BT might offer free Premiership

Steve Dinneen
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BT could launch a sensational attack on Sky’s dominance of subscription TV by offering Premier League football for free.

Plans are being discussed at board level about how BT Vision could take advantage of an expected Ofcom ruling that will slash the price Sky can charge rivals for its prized premium content.

One option being discussed is offering Premier League games as part of a package including broadband and line rental for as little as £15 a month, effectively giving the football for free. Sky charges a minimum £25.50.

Sources close to the matter say former Sky chief executive Tony Ball, now a non executive director at BT, is pushing for an aggressive approach. Ball built a reputation at Sky as a formidable subscription builder, recruiting millions to Sky’s pay-services.

BT Vision has failed to attract anywhere near the 3m subscribers it planned before its launch in December 2006. It has just 436,000 compared to 9.5m at Sky and 3.7m at Virgin. Now executives are looking at ways they can reverse the division’s fortunes.

Sky is already planning a legal challenge to the Ofcom ruling, expected later this month.
BT distanced itself from the claims. A spokesman said: “Should the pay TV review force Sky to wholesale its services, we would look to offer Sky Sports for somewhere in the mid teens. The review is not complete however and so we will have to wait for its outcome.”