BT Sport pass 1m subscribers mark
August 12, 2013
BT Sport presenter Craig Doyle and analysts Austin Healey and Lawrence Dallaglio © Getty Images
More than a million households are ready and equipped to enjoy the start of the Aviva Premiership season according to BT Sport.
Premiership Rugby awarded live and exclusive TV rights to BT Sport last year in a headline-grabbing £152m four-year deal that saw them succeed Sky Sports and ESPN as the home of English rugby's top flight.
Fans have since been given the chance to sign-up for BT Sport's entire output - that will include up to 69 Premiership games and also Premier League football - for 'free' if they sign up to a BT broadband package or renew their subscription. BT Sport is also offering access to their channels via a more traditional monthly fee.
In contrast, Sky Sports, who will continue to broadcast the Heineken Cup, Super Rugby, Rugby Championship and November internationals in UK and recently struck a deal to cover the PRO12, is thought to have around 5m subscribers. The 2013 Premiership Final attracted an audience of 120,00 on ESPN while the last title-decider shown on Sky Sports in 2010 drew a figure of 225,000.
BT Sport have signed up a host familiar faces to front their Premiership coverage including former ESPN analysts Austin Healey and Ben Kay as well as commentator Nick Mullins and reporter Sarra Elgan.
Terrestrial broadcasters ITV will continue to offer a Premiership highlights show, fronted by former ESPN host Mark Durden-Smith, with the weekly show having until now regularly eclipsed the ratings attracted by pay-TV rivals Sky Sports and ESPN with audiences of around 1m viewers regularly tuning in.
Earlier reports suggested that some of this season's Premiership fixtures would be broadcast live on free-to-air TV but BT Sport has failed to reach agreement with the BBC and ITV.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton