BT announces YouTube deal as part of broader digital strategy
BT has unveiled ambitious plans to bring its BT Sport channels to millions of additional sports fans through a range of digital channels. These include social media, mobile and digital TV.
The plans will see the company stream its Freeview BT Sport Showcase channel on YouTube for both the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League finals. By doing so, it will bring the matches within reach of millions of additional fans who do not yet subscribe to BT Sport.
The matches will be popular, with Real Madrid taking on arch rivals Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League final on 28 May. Ten days before this, Liverpool will play Sevilla in a highly anticipated UEFA Europa League final.
BT Sport has proven popular with sports fans since its launch almost three years ago. Well over five million homes now subscribe to the channels and the service is available in over 27,000 commercial premises.
EE, the UK’s biggest 4G mobile network provider and part of BT Group, will also introduce a new offer to bring BT Sport to millions of EE customers, initially those on 4GEE pay monthly mobile plans, in time for the start of the next football season. Details and pricing will be revealed this summer.
The move follows TalkTalk’s announcement earlier this week that BT Sport will be available to TalkTalk TV homes from next season.
John Petter, chief executive of BT Consumer, said: “We’ve always said we wanted to give top quality sport back to the people and making the UEFA Champions League and Europa League finals free to everyone in the UK does this in a big way. We’re also bringing BT Sport to a new generation of younger sports fans who view their entertainment online, through social media and on their mobile devices. We plan to make these finals the most social sports broadcast ever, with lots of exciting content in the build-up and on the night across YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Vine
“Both BT and UEFA are delighted with what we have achieved in our first year as the broadcaster of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.
“The Manchester City semi-final second leg against Real Madrid had an audience peak of 1.7m and we were privileged to show what most people regard as one of the truly outstanding European matches when Liverpool came back to beat Borussia Dortmund 4-3 in the Europa League quarter finals. That game had an audience high of 1.6 million, which is fantastic.
“Now we want to make sure that millions more sports fans can join in from next season, accessing content digitally, whether that’s through social media, mobile devices or digital TV.
“BT Sport has pioneered the way when it comes to new technologies and digital platforms, whether that’s live Ultra HD, our immersive BT Sport App or red button functionality on YouView. Today’s announcements will take this further, and there’s plenty more that we’re looking at, whether that’s more programming in live Ultra HD, new App developments or our recent Virtual Reality trials at the FA Cup semi-finals and NBA.”
Stephen Nuttall, YouTube’s senior director in EMEA, comments: “At YouTube, we love football and we’re thrilled to give UK supporters more ways to watch BT Sport’s fantastic live coverage of these two massive games. Fans today expect quality content on every screen and this partnership enables just that. Football is YouTube’s biggest sport; we’re host to over 300 football clubs, 37 leagues and channels from BT Sport to UEFA.”
BT TV customers will continue to receive the BT Sport Pack, containing all the channels, for free if they are in contract. BT broadband customers will pay £6 a month for the BT Sport Pack, and can continue to watch via their Sky service. Customers who do not take BT broadband can watch on Sky for a channel-only price of £21.99 a month.
The news comes as BT Sport prepares for its best-ever season of sport. The channels will show its highest number of exclusively live Barclays Premier League matches (42) at a more popular timeslot with 5.30pm kick offs on Saturdays. Live Emirates FA Cup matches and once again, all 351 exclusively live UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches will only be available on BT Sport.