Sky mulls deal to let Freeview air Premiership matches

BSkyB, the broadcaster, is exploring ways to make its live Premiership football coverage available in homes that take the Freeview digital terrestrial service.

The company would charge a monthly subscription for watching the matches, industry sources said, but the move would represent a major departure from its existing strategy, which has involved selling live Premier League matches as part of a package of channels either on cable or through its own satellite platform.

If Sky does a deal with Freeview, it would, in effect, enable subscribers for the first time to access its premium sports channels without also having to pay for a basic package of channels.

Sky already has three channels on Freeview, which is available in more than 7 million homes, but all of these are free to the viewer.

Sky is reacting to its broadcasting rival Setanta, which has already stated that it wants its matches available in Freeview homes - again on a subscription basis. Setanta, an Irish pay-TV company, shocked the industry by winning the rights to show a third of the games in an auction held by the Premier League last month, breaking Sky's monopoly hold on football.

There is also regulatory pressure on Sky to make its content available across all platforms - cable, satellite and Freeview. The Premiership rights entitle Sky to screen matches on any platform, including digital terrestrial.

Sky is believed to have started talks with Top-Up TV, the only pay-television service currently available to digital terrestrial viewers, about putting Sky Sports channels on Top-Up. Setanta was already in negotiation with Top-Up over a plan to offer one sports channel to digital terrestrial homes.

One industry source said: "Sky is very keen to exploit the [Premiership] rights on digital terrestrial television. It will not allow Setanta to establish itself as the home of live football on DTT ... It is just too dangerous for Sky to let Setanta become the only premium sports provider on DTT."

Setanta won the rights to screen 46 games a season for three years starting from 2007, while Sky picked up 92 games a season. The broadcasters paid a combined £1.7bn for the rights. Top-Up declined to comment.

A spokesman for Sky said: "The new contracts start in August 2007, and all 92 matches will be broadcast on Sky Sports."

Sky's football content is reckoned to have been its biggest driver of subscriptions since the company won the rights to show live Premiership action in 1993. The company has signed up more than 8 million homes, of which more than 5 million are thought to be paying for live football.

To get Sky's live channels, Sky Sports 1, 2, 3 and Extra, its customers have to pay a minimum of £34 a month for a package that includes other pay channels. To receive all of Sky's live sports coverage as a Telewest customer, it costs a minimum of £27.50 a month, including the cost of Telewest's basic TV package, and £28 a month on NTL.

Setanta's offering on digital terrestrial is likely to cost around the same as the £14 a month it currently charges for its existing sports channels, which are available on Sky and cable.

Analysts believe Sky would want to put a substantial sports package on digital terrestrial so the service could be priced at a level that would not undercut the existing offering on satellite.

Digital terrestrial requires consumers to buy a set-top box. It is known primarily as a free-to-air service, called Freeview, with most households that take it watching the 30 channels that do not need a subscription, including the likes of ITV3 and ABC1.

However, if households buy a more sophisticated set-top box, which allows encryption, pay-TV channels become available. Top-Up TV uses this facility to offer a bundle of 11 channels, such as Discovery and UKTV Gold, to digital terrestrial households that pay £7.99 a month.

Top-Up has announced that it will evolve into a download service, freeing up its capacity for broadcasting other channels.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
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

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Law Costs

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence