For many of us, sports makes up a huge part of our life. Whether we’re playing them, watching them or taking part ourselves, sport can make us incredibly happy or utterly despondent, but there’s absolutely no doubting that it’s amongst the most compelling content we can watch via our Sky box, right alongside that shown by Sky Atlantic.
That, of course, makes Sky Sports an incredibly important part of our Sky packages, but what should you know about the channel? In this guide, we’re going to walk you through a selected history of Sky, share with you some of the world class sports you’ll see on the service from 2017 and beyond.
25 Years of Sky Sports – a History
Launched on the 5th of February 1989, Sky Television would be a four channel package that brought together entertainment, music and sports in one compelling package. The sport aspect came from Eurosport – a brand which still survives today. A joint venture between Sky Television and the European Broadcasting Union, the channel suffered an early setback when rival sports channel Screensport launched a legal challenge, contending that the EBU’s involvement in the channel distorted the market unfairly.
The EBU agreed, and in early 1991 Eurosport went off the air, though it would later return under new ownership.
Meanwhile, Sky Television had merged with British Satellite Broadcasting to become British Sky Broadcasting. The Sports Channel was BSB’s effort in the UK and was one of the only channels to survive the merger. On the 20th of April 1991, The Sports Channel became Sky Sports.
Initially launched with a focus on gold and rugby, the company soon acquired Italian and German football league matches in 1996. However, it was to be the newly formed Premier League that cemented Sky Sports place at the centre of our entertainment lives.
By bidding an astonishing £304m for 5 year broadcast exclusivity, beating the likes of the BBC and ITV to the punch. For the first time in history, top-flight live English football wouldn’t be broadcast on terrestrial television, instead appearing on a subscription only service.
Nevertheless, the draw of these top flight matches from the 92/93 season would prove too strong to resist and millions were drawn to Sky’s offering as a result. Such demand for the service meant that over 3 years, Sky Sports added 3 new channels – Sky Sports 2, Sky Sports Gold and Sky Sports 3.
In the years since, we’ve seen the launch of yet more Sky Sports channels, including Sky Sports News HQ, Sky Sports Xtra (now Sky Sports 4), Sky Sports 5, Sky Sports 1, Sky Sports Mix and a number of temporary channels for major sporting events.
We’ve also seen the move towards HD and on-demand content, with HD launching in 2006. In 2016, we’ve even seen the launch of 4K Sky Sports broadcasting, with Sky committing to broadcasting 127 Premier League fixtures from the 16/17 season onwards in 4K.
What Sports are on Sky Sports?
Sky might have made their name with Premier League broadcasting, but they’ve made some incredible strides in building out their offering to appeal to more than just football fans. Here’s what you can look forward to as a Sky Sports customer:
- Football: Sky Sports customers enjoy more Premier League games than anyone else, as well as exclusive rights to EFL, SPFL, Major League Soccer, Eredivisie, Chinese Super League, La Liga, International and many more, alongside supplemental programming like Soccer Saturday and Soccer AM.
- Cricket: Sky have exclusive broadcast rights to English test cricket, 20/20, T20 and county cricket matches, making the service an indispensable tool for the rabid cricket fan in your life.
- Rugby Union: Expect tour matches from England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland alongside South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. Guinness Pro 12, Super Rugby and the RFU Championship are also covered.
- Rugby League: Super League, Four Nations, Rugby League World Cup, Challenge Cup and even coverage of the Australian National Rugby League grand final is available weekly on Sky Sports.
- Motorsport: Sky Sports also broadcasts major motorsport events, including every Formula One race, Speedway and more.
- Tennis: Sky Sports holds exclusive broadcast rights for a huge range of tennis, including the ATP World Tour and ATP World Tour Finals. They don’t, however, hold any broadcast rights for grand slams due to the increased cost of Premier League rights.
- Golf: Sky Sports has recently become the home of golf, with every Majors tournament appearing on the service. You can look forward to the U.S Open, U.S PGA Championship, The Masters and The Open alongside pretty much any golf tour you can think of.
And those are just some of the sports you can look forward to on Sky! With more than 1,000 hours of women’s professional sports, darts, WWE and professional boxing too, you’re never short of a competition on Sky Sports. Join Sky by contacting them here