BT Sport 1 HD New Frequency & Biss Key on Astra 2E 28.2° East
BT Sport is a group of pay television sports channels in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Owned by Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Europe and BT Group, they first launched on 1 August 2013. The channels are based at the former International Broadcast Centre at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London. BT Sport is available on the BT TV, Sky and Virgin Media television platforms in the UK and Sky, Eir TV and Vodafone TV in the Republic of Ireland.
BT Sport holds exclusive live UK and Republic of Ireland TV rights to 52 Premier League matches per season, the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, UFC, National League, Ligue 1, Serie A, the European Rugby Challenge Cup, the Premiership Rugby Cup, MotoGP, the FIH Hockey World League and WWE. They are also the official broadcast partner of the European Rugby Champions Cup and Premiership Rugby. Premier League deal, launch
News of BT’s first foray into sports broadcasting first came about on 12 June 2012, when it was announced that they had won the rights to 38 live Premier League matches for three seasons from the 2013-14 season, beating ESPN UK, which had held the shared rights with Sky Sports the previous season. BT announced at the same time that it would be launching its own channel for its new football coverage. The news followed speculation that ESPN was reconsidering its position in the UK. The following months also saw BT win rights to Premiership Rugby and its associated 7s Series, and American, Brazilian, French and Italian top-flight football.
On 25 February 2013, BT announced an agreement to acquire ESPN’s television networks in the UK and Ireland, including ESPN and international sports channel ESPN America; this agreement gave BT rights to the FA Cup beginning in 2013–14, the Bundesliga and UEFA Europa League through 2015, and the Scottish Premier League through 2017, as well as other international event rights licensed through ESPN. The value of the deal was not disclosed, but BT was understood to be paying “low tens of millions”. The deal was expected to close by 31 July, and BT was expected to operate at least one ESPN-branded channel as part of the BT Sport service.
BT made other notable rights deals ahead of BT Sport’s launch, including UFC mixed martial arts under a three-year deal, and MotoGP beginning in 2014, under a five-year deal. In May 2013, BT announced that BT Sport would be offered for free to its internet subscribers via streaming. Media analyst Steve Hewlett felt that BT’s entry into the sport market was an effort to help strengthen its triple play business and, in particular, help retain internet subscribers lost to Sky (which he believed would result in greater financial loss than those that would be sustained by operating BT Sport).
BT Sport launched on 1 August 2013. On 12 August, BT reported that over 1,000,000 households had subscribed to the service ahead of the start of the 2013–14 Premier League, although admitting that the majority of them were BT internet subscribers.
On 9 November 2013, BT Sport announced its acquisition of rights to the UEFA Champions League and Europa League beginning in 2015–16, under a three-year deal valued at £897 million, replacing Sky and ITV. The interactive service BT Sport Extra launched in 2014. In January 2015, BT Sport renewed its licensing agreement with ESPN International under a seven-year deal, allowing it to continue operating an ESPN-branded network as part of BT Sport, and hold rights to ESPN original programming, and event broadcast rights that are distributed internationally by ESPN.
UEFA deal, expansion
On 9 June 2015, BT Sport announced it would launch a new channel, BT Sport Europe, which would carry all UEFA Champions League and Europa League matches. Concurrently it was announced that only the BT Sport 1 channel would be free to BT internet subscribers, and that BT Sport 2, BT Sport ESPN, and BT Sport Europe would require viewers to subscribe for £5 extra. BT also announced a Freeview HD channel, BT Sport Showcase, which would carry 12 Champions League matches and 14 Europa League matches per season on a free-to-air basis, including at least one match per-round, each English team featured once, and the finals of both tournaments.
BT Sport also announced that it would launch BT Sport Ultra HD, the first 4K sports channel in the UK, on 2 August for the 2015 FA Community Shield. The channel would initially be exclusive to BT TV on BT Infinity, with a 4K service package and compatible YouView set-top box. In 2016, BT Sport Europe was renamed BT Sport 3.
In 2017, BT Sport began an agreement with boxing promoter Frank Warren, under which Warren’s channel BoxNation would be distributed as part of the BT Sport service, and that BT Sport and BoxNation would co-produce 20 cards per-year, which would air on Saturday nights and be simulcast by both networks. In April 2018, BT Sport announced a pay-per-view service, BT Sport Box Office, with an intent to broadcast premium boxing events. On 2 August 2019, BT Sport relaunched its 4K channel as BT Sport Ultimate, and began to offer Dolby Atmos sound and high dynamic range (HDR) on supported devices.
On 20 June 2019, BT Sport announced an agreement to carry the programming and pay-per-views of U.S. professional wrestling promotion WWE, ending a relationship with Sky Sports that dated back to the network’s launch in 1989.
Joint venture with Warner Bros. Discovery
In April 2021, it was reported that BT were exploring a sale of all or part of BT Sport, in order to focus more on its fibreoptic services. Rumoured suitors included Amazon.com Inc. (which is one of the Premier League’s current rightsholders), the sports streaming provider DAZN (which had notably beat out Sky Italia for exclusive domestic rights to Serie A football), and ESPN owner Disney.By September 2021, DAZN were reported to be in “advanced talks” with BT. However, in December, it was reported that negotiations had stalled, and that Discovery Inc.—who owns competitor Eurosport, and were preparing to merge with WarnerMedia to form Warner Bros. Discovery—was negotiating a joint venture with BT to combine their respective networks.In February 2022, the two companies entered exclusive negotiations.
On 11 May 2022 Warner Bros. Discovery EMEA (WBD) announced that it had reached an agreement to combine its Eurosport UK business with BT Sport in a 50/50 joint venture, in a transaction scheduled to be completed by the end of 2022 pending approval from regulators and sports bodies. Under the agreement, WBD will assume the operations of BT Sport, and merge them with Eurosport under a new brand at a later date. WBD will pay £93 million to BT over three years; if performance targets are met, WBD will pay a bonus of up to £540 million. The company will also have the option to buy out more of BT’s stake in the venture. As part of the agreement, BT agreed to distribute Warner Bros. Discovery’s factual streaming service Discovery+—which is the streaming platform of Eurosport—at no charge to most BT TV subscribers, and those who subscribe to BT Sport via the company directly.
The venture was approved by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on 22 July 2022, and consummated on 1 September.
On 1 August 2022, BT Sport ESPN was rebranded as BT Sport 4, while the BT Sport Extra overflow channels were rebranded as BT Sport 5 through 10.
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