BT announces sports channel duo
In an interview with the Telegraph, Marc Watson, chief executive of BT Vision, confirmed that BT Sport will consist of two channels. BT Sport 1 will become the group's flagship channel, a channel which is already being described as a "must have channel for sports fans", whereas BT Sport 2 will enable BT to cover sport when there is a "scheduling conflict" - or two sports occurring at the same time.
The channels are expected to become available at the beginning of August 2013, when BT's Premiership Football rights come into play. In the meantime, BT has obtained two licences from Ofcom for two "sailing" channels, as reported by Recombu Digital, which will act as placeholders ahead of the launch.
Marc Watson confirmed that the BT Sport Channels would be made available on satellite, but did not give any details as to what form that would take. Speaking to the Telegraph, he said "We will be making our sports rights available on satellite, and we’re open to wholesaling if the terms are right, people won’t have to swap set-top boxes or subscribe to BT broadband to watch our football matches."
It is expected that BT will reach a carriage deal with Sky in return for Sky allowing BT access to all of Sky's Sports channels and other services, thus giving BT Vision subscribers a similar deal to that offered by YouView partner TalkTalk, which already offers the full set of Sky Sports channels, plus Sky Movies and channels such as Sky One.
It is not known if the BT Sports channels will be delivered on digital terrestrial television alongside the Freeview service. Such an addition would allow Freeview viewers with suitable equipment to add the BT channels like they can with ESPN at the moment. BT currently has a carriage agreement with multiplex operator Arqiva for capacity for two channels - currently being used to host Sky Sports 1 and 2 on channels 41 and 42. These channels, initially labelled "BT 1" and "BT 2" when they first appeared on the digital terrestrial network in 2010 were a result of Ofcom forcing Sky to offer more favourable wholesale terms to other providers - part of a ruling by Ofcom that was struck down by the Competition Appeals Tribunal earlier this year after a successful appeal by Sky.
minor update 17:57 12/11/2012