The vast majority of football fans will have awoken this morning to news that made them utter a rather naughty word beginning with F.
Why? Because BT Sport have now won (for an extortionate price) the rights to screen UEFA Champions League football from 2015. They also have Europa League, making the Thursday nights ITV4 chant rather redundant.
This is bad news for the average football fan simply because they now have to buy both Sky Sports and BT Sport.
This season it was optional – BT Sport may claim to have the ‘top picks’ but in reality, Super Sundays have been as good as ever. Add to that the punditry of Jamie Redknapp, Gary Neville et al and you have a cracking all round show.
BT attempted to rival Sky’s version of Soccer Saturday and canned it after one week. Lesson number one of sports broadcasting – no one can be Jeff Stelling. They have made an effort to rival Sky, but at the minute, are embarrassingly second in all areas.
From coverage, to punditry to the bizarre fact they chose to have the score line on the bottom left hand side, not the top of the screen, every time the majority of us have watched BT Sport, we have been left feeling much like Chelsea fans when AVB was at the helm instead of Mourinho. No one likes a Tesco Value version when they are used to the Finest range.
Yes, the arguments of a monopoly and this being good for the viewers have been bandied about as much as plaudits for Aaron Ramsey this season – and that is a fair bit. Essentially, the majority of fans see the difference of a tenner saved in their TV package on a par with Roy Keane’s opinion. It is utterly irrelevant. What we want is the best coverage.
There is a reason why BT Sport and ITV are mocked. The latter misses goals so that is pretty much self-explanatory – but the hard facts are neither are anywhere near the level of coverage Sky provides for us. Sky may have seen off all competitors in recent times but it seems that BT are here to stay with such coups.
What seems most likely to happen is that fans will watch the one live game on BT sport they are most interested in, and then turn straight over to the Sky Sports highlights as soon as physically possible. Sky have the edge on pundits – in fact there is a huge chasm of difference at the minute, and the analysis provided on Sky is heads and shoulders above.
BT may well bring better pundits and ex-players on board come 2015 – the Champions League will of course be a massive draw in allowing them to do this. They will also have settled into their own skin a little better.
Sky were so keen to keep the European football rights they were reportedly even willing to sublet some UCL games to ITV in order to keep their rights and downplay fears over their monopoly. They ended up refusing to match the nearly £1 billion deal BT put forward to UEFA, calling it ‘overpaying.’
This of course also raises the point that ITV will no longer have any live football at all from the 2015 season. They have already lost FA Cup rights and now this. A huge problem for the channel – not to mention the fans who enjoyed their Champions League football for free on the channel.
BT claim they will make some matches free-to-air. Much like their Premier League coverage – but note the matches the make free. Crystal Palace v Arsenal. The UCL equivalent is likely to see us treated to Basel v Barcelona. If we are lucky.
For those lamenting the BT Sport monthly fee – at least you won’t have to put up with Adrian Chiles. Every cloud and all.
New giants BT also screen Serie A games, Bundesliga games and of course Ligue 1. Some have hailed their coverage of these leagues – but let’s put it another way. Does it rival the unprecedented La Liga coverage we get from Sky?
In a world where Nicklas Bendtner wins the Ballon d’Or somewhere other than in his own head, the answer is yes. In the real world we live in however, the answer is unequivocally no.
BT Sport now have some Premier League games, the FA Cup, soon the UCL and the majority of European football coverage. The only thing that seems sacred to Sky is La Liga football. Thank God Sky locked that down on a long term deal. The day we are deprived of Rob Palmer, Guillem Balague and Graham Hunter is dark day for football fans indeed.
Sky claim they will be back bigger and better – despite the massive loss. Whilst it may not be the ‘game changer’ it was called by BT bosses, it is still a huge blow to BskyB and the first really significant challenge they have faced from a rival broadcaster since beginning in 1992.
Will BT have improved so much in the next two years they will provide coverage to rival Sky? Let u know your thoughts below or tweet us @LaFootyettes.
10 years ago
Well put together article.. As usual average punter loses out ….more money potentially worse coverage.