BT plans more “eye-watering” soccer bids

Football-BainesBT Sport is ready to invest a lot more and already has its eyes on the next Premier League rights, claims BT TV chief executive Marc Watson.

Watson said the £897 million (€1.05bn) just spent on 2015-18 Champions League rights was “worth every penny” despite claims BT had hugely over paid.

Watson told the UnitedCity sports summit in Manchester: “We have been able to afford some pretty eye-watering sums because it drives a position in a big and lucrative market, and we are in a position to invest more.”

“I know that some have questioned how much we have paid for football rights, especially in the last couple of weeks, but the truth is that money makes a difference in a highly competitive market and we only pay what we think the rights are genuinely worth to us, and we hope that’s enough to win it.”

“The losers always say the winners have overpaid but we know we wouldn’t have won it for less, and what we have got with the Champions League are some of the best matches on the planet and they are worth every penny.”

“It is too early to say what we will do in terms of the next Premier League rights. We are a big business and we generate a lot of free cashflow, and if we think this is working for us and we see something that drives the business forward, then we are in a position to invest.”

Watson said BT has experienced a surge in the number of broadband subscribers and regards the expansion of super-fast, fibre-optic broadband as the key to people changing TV viewing habits. He tried to downplay the rivalry with Sky, however, insisting there was room for two – but perhaps not three – major live sports broadcasters in a market where “football is king”.

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