BT links with Sky to screen soccer matches

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BT has entered the market to broadcast Premiership football for the first time, under a deal to broadcast "near live" games that it shared yesterday with the satellite group BSkyB.

The telecoms group and Sky paid a combined total of £84m for the rights to show 242 games from 10pm on the day of the match, for three years from the 2007-08 season. The figures compared with the £1.7bn that was recently paid by Sky and the Irish broadcaster Setanta for the exclusive live rights, illustrating the vast gulf in value that exists between live and "near live" games. Furthermore, the matches on offer under the latest contract are only those that neither Sky nor Setanta have chosen to broadcast live - meaning they will be games between relatively minor Premiership teams.

BT, which is launching into the TV market later this year, will allow users to call up the games at will on a per-per-view basis - the service will be available to its broadband customers who have also taken the TV service - called BT Vision.

Dan Marks, the head of BT Vision, said: "This is a landmark moment for sports viewing in the UK as BT Vision customers will have great control, convenience and choice over the games they want to watch without the need for an upfront subscription. This is a great example of the added value that BT broadband delivers."