BT locks horns with Sky over pricing for sports

BT ratcheted up the battle for pay TV viewers as it yesterday unveiled aggressive prices to offer customers Sky's premier sports channels. The move prompted a war of words between the two rivals.

The telecoms giant will charge customers of BT Vision £16.99 a month for Sky Sports 1 and 2, with ESPN also bundled in, while a pared-down package goes as low as £6.99 a month.

Gavin Patterson, the chief executive of BT Retail, said: "We expect that entry prices as low as £6.99 will welcome in a huge number of extra customers who'd love to enjoy these channels, but thought they were too expensive."

Rivals said that to take advantage of the deal customers will have to sign up to a two-year broadband contract at £17.99 a month and pay telephone line rental, bringing it closer in line with Sky and Virgin's pricing levels.

Sky was furious about BT's new pricing model. Mike Darcey, Sky's chief operating officer, said: "BT has spent three years persuading Ofcom that it needs a wholesale price cut in order to compete in pay TV." He continued: "It is now clear that Ofcom has been duped and that BT wants to set retail prices below wholesale prices. Their agenda is all about using artificially cheap TV to sell expensive broadband and phone services. This is not price competition, it is cross subsidy."

John Petter, consumer managing director at BT, hit back, saying Sky had been using BT's infrastructure to sell cheap broadband, in a style that "didn't feel too different" to its strategy over selling sports content.

Mr Petter believes the sports package will be a "significant" driver to boost its 467,000 customers. Almost 10 million households have Sky.

BT believes there is a huge market to play for after it carried out research that found four million homes were interested in Sky Sports content but currently found it too expensive. It also hopes the lower prices will tempt Sky customers to defect.

Toby Syfret of Enders Analysis said the sports packages would be crucial in preventing BT's customers leaving for Sky or Virgin, which also shows Sky Sports content. "There has been a lot of drift from BT to Sky; this will help head it off."

He added that when broadband and telephone line prices were factored in, there was not a huge difference in price between the rival pay TV providers.

The packages were made available yesterday, allowing households to sign up before the new football season.

The news came after it emerged that Sky had lifted its pricing more than expected. Increasing the price for its retail customers also brings wholesale prices up, putting more pressure on BT's pricing offer. BT said it was caught by surprise when Sky raised its prices, but added "it doesn't change our plans. We are in this for the long term. We're surprised they raised prices despite the extra element of price-based competition". Mr Syfret said: "This is just one of a number of aggressive actions Sky has taken to stall the competition."

He added that given the extra costs of adding an extra package of Premier League matches, it was not a surprise the company raised prices.

The price war was kicked off by the media regulator, Ofcom, in March, when it ruled that Sky should reduce its wholesale prices for rival pay TV providers to access premium sport and movies. Sky is contesting the decision with the Competition Appeal Tribunal. As part of the process, BT is fighting to reduce the wholesale price further. Ofcom said: "Our decisions will therefore deliver competition, choice and innovation in the pay TV market, regardless of changes to Sky's retail prices."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Sport
Raheem Sterling of Liverpool celebrates scoring the opening goal
footballLIVE: Follow all the latest from tonight's Capital One quarter-finals
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Life and Style
tech
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Direct Marketing Manager - B2C, Financial Services - Slough

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity h...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - North West London - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Selby Jennings: Corporate Communications & Marketing Specialist – Geneva

120,000 - 150,000 chf + bonus: Selby Jennings: A leading Swiss Private Banking...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Scandi crush: Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

Th Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn