BT broadband customers to get 'free' live football

BT is taking on satellite giant Sky by offering free Premiership football matches to its broadband customers.

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Five million BT broadband customers will get 38 Premier League games without additional charges from August. This, according to BT, will be the first time in more than 20 years that weekly live matches from the Barclays Premier League will be free to watch.

Of course, as you need to be a broadband customer, it isn’t strictly ‘free’ – so here’s a look at the deal and how it compares to what Sky has to offer.

Free kicks

To get BT’s free Premier League football matches, you’ll need to pay at least £10 a month for broadband (plus line rental at £15.45, or £10.75 if you pay for the year’s rental in advance).
 
If you’re already a broadband customer with less than 12 months left on your contract, all you’ll need to do is sign a new 12-month contract to be eligible. If you have a set-top box already you can use that to get the free games, or else pay £5 per month for one.

Alternatively, you’ll also be able to watch the matches online and via an app, so if you’re a broadband customer and don’t want to pay for a set top box, you can stream the matches on your laptop or iPad, for example.

You could then quite easily connect your laptop or mobile device to your television and watch on the big screen.

The free matches are being made available under the BT Sport banner, which is comprised of BT Sport 1, 2 and ESPN.

With this you’ll get 38 Premiership matches (including 18 ‘first pick’ games), live football from German, French, Italian and Brazilian leagues, FA Cup ties and coverage from the UEFA Europa League.

Until now, Sky has been the only broadcaster showing first pick games and tends to show them on a Sunday afternoon. BT has half of next season’s top-flight matches and plans to show many on Saturdays.

As well as football, there will be 69 exclusive live rugby matches from the Aviva Premiership and coverage of WTA women’s tennis tournaments.

By comparison, Sky offers 116 Premier League matches per year across its six sports channels. You can get all this plus broadband for £42.50 a month for the first six months (that’s £21.50 for the basic package and an additional £21 for Sky Sports). This, of course, doesn’t include broadband.

BT Sport’s coverage will be fronted by former BBC presenter Jake Humphreys, with commentary from a host of ex-England internationals, including among others Rio Ferdinand, Michael Owen, Owen Hargreaves, Steve McManaman and former England No1 goalkeeper David James.

‘Sports fans are winners’

Ian Livingston, BT chief executive, said: "UK Sports fans have had a rough deal for too long. Many have been priced out of the market but we will change this by giving away BT Sport for free with our broadband. Sports fans are the winners today.”

BT will be hoping to win over new customers with the free sport and is also offering some sweeteners to new customers. It will offer them fibre optic broadband (where available) for £15 a month or standard broadband for £10 a month.

It also says the switching process will be simple, claiming that most customers will only need to make one phone call to BT, who will arrange the switch on their behalf.

BT says that only one in five UK homes currently subscribes to a sports channel, and claims Sky’s broadband and sports customers could save more than £100 by switching.

For example, if you’re a Sky phone and broadband customer and switched those services to BT, taking up its unlimited broadband deal, you’d save £134.65 in 12 months, according to BT.

Sky, however, says a typical customer (taking TV, Sky Sports, BT Sport for free, broadband and phone, totalling £64.50 a month) would pay up to £16.45 extra per month for the equivalent service with BT.

If you’re interested, you can order BT Sport by calling 0800 400 440 or by registering your interest at http://www.btsport.com/.

If you don’t want to sign up for BT broadband to get the free sport, you can add BT Sport to your existing Sky subscription for £15 a month in HD, or £12 in standard definition.

If however, like me, you’re a BT broadband customer and a Sky customer, but don’t subscribe to Sky Sports, you can add BT Sport to your Sky package for free.

The real winners will be existing BT broadband customers, who’ll get something for nothing, or BT Broadband customers who are also Sky subscribers but don’t pay for Sky Sports, who will be able to add BT Sport to their Sky subscriptions for free.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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