Thursday 14 July 2016 5:41 pm

BT Sport price increase will place "huge pressure" on pubs

Pub groups have hit out at BT Sport's 8.9 per cent subscription price rise, announced yesterday, that will be enacted from 1 September. 

BT's move follows a 10 per cent price rise from Sky last month. The average monthly price for BT Sport for an independent pub will increase by £35 a month to £430, excluding VAT. 

However, BT is also offering licensees a two-year deal that will freeze prices until 2018, as well as a "content guarantee" for important sports games such as the Premier League, Europe League, Premier League and Aviva Premiership Rugby. 

Sporting revenues have been key to pub turnover this summer. The opening weekend of the Euro 2016 football tournament drove revenues 26 per cent higher compared to an average June weekend.

Read more: Queen's 90th and Euro 2016 offer hopes to pubs as beer sales decline steadies

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said today: "The headline increases are disappointing, but certainly it is worthwhile for publicans to look carefully at the details, as the offer of a two-year contract means they could benefit from a price freeze in 2017.

"There are also some interesting developments in terms of potential packages involving both music and wifi, which is a welcome innovation, and which we need if BT want to make their products attractive to pubs."

Read more: More pubs than ever are picking BT Sport over rival Sky Sports

MP and chair of the British Pub Confederation, Greg Mulholland, told City A.M.: 

Sporting events place huge pressure on pubs, particularly smaller operators, as many cannot afford to pay the subscription rates that BT and Sky charge, and then lose out on custom because they aren’t showing the sport.

BT’s planned price hike only worsens this problem, with many publicans already unable to afford the steep prices. The British Pub Confederation plans to write to both BT and Sky, calling on them to offer a fairer deal to British pubs so that both publicans and sports fans can enjoy watching sport in their local.

BT is also offering a new service that enable pub owners to offer free wifi to customers and a new music streaming service called BarBeats that will offer 70 playlists of up to 500 tracks each. 

BT's sport service is still 60 per cent cheaper than Sky's offering for independent pubs and more independent pubs are signed up to BT Sport than Sky. 

Sky Sports pubs get wifi free from public network The Cloud, as well as free marketing and footfall-driving support for landlords. Sky shows around 60,000 hours of sport a year across seven channels, including 126 live Premier League games a season for the next three years.