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.


Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
videoWatch Lynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance
Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'

Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 pose for Children in Need 2001
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution

Review: Witty banalities aside, the comedian has an authentic voice

Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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: The SThree group is a world le...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £Competitive: SThree: SThree Group and have be...

Helpdesk Analyst

£23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London