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Top Up TV confirms sports wind down

updated  Terrestrial pay TV operator Top Up TV has confirmed it is ceasing to offer its current sports channels as negotiations with BT  to secure BT Sport have so far failed to bear fruit and current carriage agreements end.

Sky Sports 1 and 2 will end at the end of this month and the current carriage agreement with ESPN ends a month later.

That's according to correspondence being issued by Top Up TV to its subscribers. The current lack of an ongoing agreement between BT and Top Up TV means Top Up TV subscribers aren't guaranteed BT Sports, and that BT subscribers without an Infinity broadband line will not be able to watch ESPN through terrestrial TV from 1st August.

Sky Sports is hosted on digital terrestrial by BT, but is now transferring its customers over to its own broadband platform. Top Up TV gained access to the BT hosted Sky Sports channels in a wholesale agreement. BT is meanwhile going to use the terrestrial slots to offer BT Sport to its customers who don't live in a BT Infinity area. Top Up TV would have only been able to offer Sky Sports beyond July if it had acquired extra capacity on a terrestrial TV multiplex.

ESPN is hosted on Top Up TV capacity. Without a deal between BT and Top Up TV and without BT acquiring any more terrestrial capacity to carry ESPN itself, the telecoms giant cannot offer ESPN terrestrially to its non-Infinity customers.

In the latest development, Top Up TV has taken the unusual step to refer its customers to Sky for "special offers" for Sky Sports, indicating a souring relationship between BT and the terrestrial pay TV provider.

Deal or No Deal? Will platform operators agree terms with BT?
BT Sport v other platform operators: Deal or No Deal?
This is the latest uncertainty to affect sports fans wanting to get the best sports coverage on TV following BT's entry into the sports TV market.

No deals have thus far been made between BT and any other platform operator. As it stands, BT Sport on TV is only available direct from BT via satellite, infinity fibre broadband or - as a last resort - terrestrially.

Most pay TV operators - including Top Up TV  - have stated that they are still in talks with BT over future access to the BT Sport channels, but realistically, a failure to reach a deal would put Top Up TV in a vulnerable position and at risk of closure unless a last minute deal is reached with alternative content providers. Unlike other pay TV operators, Top Up TV has only offered the three sports channels that are being withdrawn in recent months to new subscribers. Its existing "Anytime / TV favourites" platform, incorporating a few hours of UKTV's Gold and Home channels each week on channels 20 and 26 is being wound down, with content being frequently reduced. This service has not been available to new subscribers for some time.

BT broadband customers are themselves affected by as yet unfruitful negotiations regarding sports channels, with only limited access to Sky Sports guaranteed next football season.

Sports fans may need to hope that someone somewhere will reach a deal sometime soon and provide a competitively priced one-stop shop for all sports channels.


  1. is BT sport going to launch on freeview
    if so i will buy a cam and viewing card, as my tv
    has a card slot

    1. As a Pay TV service, BT Sport will never be available as part of Freeview. With regards its transmission on the digital terrestrial TV platform, it appears unlikely at this stage that you'll be able to watch BT Sport via a CAM.

      Ideally, BT would like its sports subscribers to get the channels through its broadband service rather than access the channel through a third-party supplier.

  2. The following has information about opting out if you are Top Up TV (TUTV) viewer:

    It also includes that Sky Sports 1 & 2 will cease broadcasting on 30th June at midnight and ESPN on 31st July at midnight.

    Will BT run a 'barker' promo for BT Sport 1 & 2 free to air on channel 41 & 42 from 1st July to encourage Freeview viewers to subscribe before 1st August?

    1. BT Sport could appear on channels 41 and 42 if the rules in section 8 of the Digital UK EPG Policy are followed. BT can't just take Sky Sports channel numbers as they are "new channels" and thus must go to the bottom, according to the rules.

      However if channels 41 and 42 are vacated by Sky Sports prior to BT Sport launching, the rules in section 8.2 may be applicable. If no other broadcaster claims the channel number, it could be offered BT for BT Sport, in accordance with section 8.4 (particularly the last sentence).

      Regarding the barker promo - BT Sport aren't offering the channel to Freeview viewers. The terrestrial distribution is solely for BT broadband customers who aren't in an Infinity enabled area.

      We'll have to wait and see how this all pans out.

  3. Get All Pay Channels Of Freeview, After all It's Supposed To Be Free

  4. in regards to the sky offer - it doesn't show there is bad blood between tutv and bt, sky are probably paying more for their customer list.

    1. You're probably right about Sky paying for the customer list.

      But Top Up TV recently told subscribers "Negotiations with BT are on-going and we are confident that a positive outcome will be reached in the very near future."

      Subsequently referring customers to Sky (or Sky acquiring the customer list) and in effect offering no replacement service or any hope of any replacement service would give the impression that there has been a stalemate in talks with BT and the negotiations between the two companies isn't as positive as made out.

      If a deal was still a realistic option, it would have made sense to inform customers of the end of the current service and tried to retain them for the BT service rather then sending them packing to Sky.

      Unless there is a sudden deal with BT, all Top Up TV is able to do is sell off what it can (including customer lists) and wind the business down.

    2. (And if Top Up TV is wound down completely, we can all start to speculate how it might affect the terrestrial EPG! - Local TV in Scotland and Wales - currently allocated channel 45 - would be the first to benefit from any service closures.)

  5. BT get on my jugs, I left their telephone line and service years ago. I have been a TUTV customer for several years as I work on a ship with no access to a landline or Sky dish.

    The DTT system works well when moving so is ideal.

    Fingers crossed that someone takes up the mantle


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