BT is buying a bunch of ESPN channels, which it'll roll into its own sports service that'll launch this summer. The landline and broadband provider is picking up the ESPN UK and Ireland TV channel business, which includes the ESPN and ESPN America channels, as well as live sports rights.
The deal is expected to be completed by the end of July, the company says. It'll bring live games from the FA Cup, Scottish Premier League, German Bundesliga and UEFA Europa League to the BT Sport TV service.
But it won't be the end of the sports channel giant on these shores. BT will keep at least the ESPN channel running as is, with the rest of its coverage shared around the new BT sports channels. ESPN Classic will be given a place on the subs bench, however.
BT is really upping its game, having already shelled out for 38 Premier League football matches. The deal starts next year, and will last for three seasons. It'll also show 69 Aviva Premiership Rugby matches from the next four seasons, up to 800 hours per season of live women's tennis, and "the best of US sports". Whether that includes the greatest sport ever invented remains to be seen.
As part of its upcoming sports venture, BT is rumoured to be planning three sports channels and pay-per-view offerings. Last year, it brought Sky Sports 1 and 2 to BT Vision.
It still has a lot to do to win over potential Sky and Virgin Media customers though. BT Vision is the most complained-about pay TV service in the UK, according to figures from Ofcom last summer. Reasons not to be cheerful included "issues related to [BT's] sales processes and complaints with billing."
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