BT bolsters broadband unit, challenges BSkyB with sports channels

|About: BT Group plc (BT)|By:, SA News Editor

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.