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BT bolsters broadband unit, challenges BSkyB with sports channels

  • BT now claims over 1M subscribers for its sports channels, in large part due to its £246M purchase of the live rights to a quarter of the Premier League matches to be played in the coming season.
  • The soccer rights purchase is part of a broader strategy to bolster BT's broadband business. The carrier offers its sport channels for free to new subscribers and previous customers who renew, rather than on a per-channel subscription basis.
  • BT's £1B bet on turning the subscription sports market on its head seems to be paying off, as subscription rates accelerate with the soccer season fast approaching.
  • In July, BT's Consumer Division boss John Petter fired a missive at Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB and Virgin Media, declaring the days of subscription sports channels "are numbered."
  • However, BT still faces an uphill battle: BSkyB has 10.4M subscribers (if one includes basic TV subscribers) and the rights to the other 3/4 of the upcoming season's live matches.
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