The move coincides with the arrival of UEFA Champions League and Europa League football on BT this summer.
BT originally confirmed in November 2013, when it was announced as the new owner of Champions League and Europa League football rights, that it would make certain European matches free-to-air, but there had been speculation as to whether BT would licence matches to third-party broadcasters. Until now ITV screened free-to-air matches, with Sky broadcasting the rest to Sky Sports subscribers.
Speaking about BT Sport's plans for the Champions League, John Petter, head of BT's consumer division, told the London Evening Standard's Mihir Bose:
"some games will be free as well. There’ll be a free-to-air version of BT Sport."
BT has recently launched a Showcase channel on Freeview. The standard definition channel, which currently acts as a placeholder and shows a loop of promotional material for one hour every night, to meet Freeview channel listing rules, is expected to turn into the free-to-air service. The placeholder service is currently only available on Freeview/YouView/EE TV channel 59 in certain locations.
BT Sport 1 on channel 58, originally broadcast for the benefit of viewers whose broadband connections were too slow to stream BT Sport via BT's YouView TV service is scheduled to be removed from channel 58 following the end of this football season.
Further details about the scope of the free-to-air version and when it will launch along with other aspects of its Champions and Europa League coverage have not yet been disclosed by BT.