BT teams up with Virgin Media in football battle against Sky

BT and Virgin Media have announced a three year deal that will give Virgin Media TV customers access to BT Sport TV channels (release).

The deal will come into effect from this weekend, and will give Virgin Media’s 3.8m XL customers access to BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN. The deal will boost BT's viewers, allowing them to charge more to advertisers.

Among the events being shown are 38 exclusively live football matches from the Barclays Premier League. By comparison, rival Sky will be showing 116. Between them, Sky and BT have paid £3 bn to secure the rights to show top football for the next three seasons.

The agreement will also enable Virgin Media to offer the channels as a standalone premium service to TV customers who do not take the XL pack. This will be similar to BT's offer to satellite TV customers without BT broadband, who can pay £12 per month for the channels via satellite or £15 a month in HD. BT said customers switching their broadband to BT are typically able to make “major savings”.

Marc Watson, BT TV chief executive, said he was “delighted” with the agreement.

BT is rewarding its loyal customers with free sport and it is great to see Virgin Media immediately making BT Sport available to so many of their customers.

BT has made a large investment in BT Sport and this is an important commercial agreement for us that recognises the excellence of the channels. We are keen to make our services as widely available as possible and to do so via wholesale arrangements. We are doing this with Sport.