BT is to start charging its broadband customers who want to watch its full sports package, as part of a shake up that sees the operator launch Europe’s first 4K channel.
The UK company paid over €1 billion in 2013 for the exclusive rights to show European Champions League and Europa League football from next season. With 2014/15 season now over, BT has unveiled how it plans to monetise that investment.
Customers who sign up to its BT TV service will get all 351 matches from the UEFA Champions League and Europa League for free.
The European football will be shown on the new BT Sport Europe channel, which launches on August 1.
The existing BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN on BT Sport complete the package.
However, BT Broadband customers who choose to watch on their Sky service, via the BT Sport app or on BT Mobile, will now be charged £5 per month.
The operator also confirmed that customers who do not subscribe to any BT bundle but pay to watch the BT sport channels on Sky will have to pay more than the £13.50 they currently pay.
The exact price is yet to be decided.
The operator also announced the launch of BT Sport Showcase, a free-to-air channel on digital TV that will show a minimum of 12 UEFA Champions League matches and 14 UEFA Europa League matches.
BT Sport 1, which shows 38 live Barclays Premier League matches, will continue to be offered to BT broadband customers for free.
In addition, it unveiled BT Sport Ultra HD, the first Ultra HD (4K) channel in Europe, and promised to introduce a new BT TV Ultra HD set top box.
Finally, it outlined some new features, such as a “Connected Red Button” service that allows BT TV viewers to switch between matches and track the action with a new ‘Goal Alert’ function, which will let the viewer know when a goal is scored in any of the games.
BT Consumer CEO John Petter commented: “When we launched BT Sport we promised to make televised football far more accessible and affordable than it has been to date.
“We have opened the market to millions of new customers and we want to build on that as BT Sport becomes the undisputed home of European football.”
BT saw a 16 percent increase in consumer broadband and TV revenues in the last financial year.
The operator has over five million BT sport customers, including those who watch it on Virgin via a wholesale agreement, and 1.14 million customers who subscribe to BT TV.
CCS Insight analyst Paolo Pescatore described the announcements as a smart move.
He said: “The company is using the success of BT Sport to turnaround the fortunes of its BT TV service.
“Until now there has been a disconnect between BT Sport and BT TV, leaving no incentive for BT broadband subscribers to sign up to BT TV.
“Also, the launch of new interactive features underlines the importance of using its extensive network assets to offer users a unique and personal experience, which will allow it to continue differentiating its offering over rival channels.”