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Business News

BSkyB hit after BT throws down gauntlet

Shares in BSkyB plummeted yesterday after rival BT unveiled its plans to give away Premier League football to its broadband customers.

BSkyB fell 53p, or 6.15 per cent, to 809p on fears over what BT's move will mean for the company's dominance among the pay-TV providers.

"This is a major player matching the scale of Sky coming in – we haven't had that before," said Enders Analysis' Toby Syfret.

BT customers who are already signed up to its broadband service will have free access to its new sports channels, which have the rights to 38 Premier League matches a season. While BSkyB will still show 116 live games, 18 of BT's will be "first pick" matches.

"UK sports fans have had a rough deal for too long," said BT's chief executive, Ian Livingston. "Many have been priced out of the market, but we will change this by giving away BT Sport for free with our broadband."

BT bid £738m for its three-year Premier League rights package and have signed up a host of big names for their coverage, including Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale and Manchester United's Robin van Persie.

Shares in BT also fell after the announcement, down 6.6p to 275.7p, while the broadband provider TalkTalk closed 30.9p lower at 221.6p.