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BT Showcase falls silent

After three years, BT Showcase has fallen silent on Freeview.

It provided Freeview viewers with a small selection of live sports coverage, acting as a teaser for BT's pay TV offering.

It was most recently broadcast on Freeview HD channel 115, but not from every Freeview transmitter.

First going live on the platform on 1st July 2015, the service was created to provide a free-to-air outlet for BT's coverage of the Champions League and Europa League as well as a number of other freebies.

The 2015-2018 broadcasting rights deal between UEFA and BT - the first to see live Champions and Europa League fixtures come off mainstream free-to-air TV - stipulated a small number of maches that would have to continue to be shown on free-to-air TV.

During the first two years, BT added ad-hoc Aviva Premiership coverage to the channel, before coverage was offloaded to Channel 5.

Later, BT Showcase simulcast Saturday afternoon results show Score, with Mark Pougatch and guests. Coverage of Australian Big Bash Cricket and the America's Cup also made it to Freeview screens, as well as the occasional sampler from BT's AMC drama channel.

The latest deal between UEFA and BT means there's no requirement to broadcast a set number of games on a free-to-air basis. For other coverage, BT has in the past year moved to offer freebies via YouTube, and on social media networks, with Score being live streamed on Twitter.

In 2017, BT moved the Showcase channel from SD to HD, losing viewers as a result of the HD service having lower coverage via fewer Freeview transmitters. 

But there had been criticism that the Showcase service was not being promoted enough, and thay viewing figures for the free-to-air matches were a fraction of those that ITV got in its final years of Champions League coverage.

BT Showcase actually finished screening scheduled programmes on Saturday 31st March 2018, when it simulcast Score for the last time. Remaining free Champions and Europa League matches were streamed online-only instead. Since then, it had been showing a promotional loop; although for the Champions League final, a caption pointing viewers to its online coverage replaced normal service for a few days.

Viewers will need to subscribe to BT Sport if they want to see any live and complete Champions or Europa League coverage from later this year. BT is increasing prices across a number of telephony and broadband services on the 16th September.