BT is to make its two new BT Sport channels available to BT Vision customers on DTT. In doing so, the channels it currently runs in the DTT slots – Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 – will now only be available to BT Vision TV customers who live in an area that has its top-level Infinity broadband service, and they’ve signed up to it.
BT Vision has 810,000 pay-TV subscribers, with analysts estimating that up to 30,000 also pay for Sky Sports. It is estimated that perhaps half of those 30,000 do not have a contract for BT Infinity broadband and could be affected.
“Launching a new sports channel and extra live TV channels has meant we have had to make some changes to the way we deliver different programming,” said BT. “Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 will now be delivered over our Infinity fibre-based broadband.”
BT has written to BT Vision customers who have Sky Sports and live in an area that is covered by its fast broadband service, telling them that they have to subscribe to it or they will not be able to watch after this weekend.
The move has provoked outrage from BT customers on its website community forums. “BT are using this as a sneaky way to get people to upgrade to Infinity, I think it will fail,” said one customer on a community forum on BT’s website.
The BT spokeswoman admitted that there is a “small number” of customers who will simply be cut off from receiving Sky Sports.
“A minority of customers who do not have a fast enough copper broadband connection, will lose Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 this summer,” she said. “We will be giving these customers free BT Sport as well as six months’ free broadband.
Marc Watson, CEO of BT TV admitted that there had been difficulties in migrating customers to newer BT TV platforms and noted that Sky wouldn’t allow it to put Sky Sports 1 and 2 onto that box. He told members of the Broadcasting Press Guild that BT had been trying to resolve the issue commercially for months, and with the season fast approaching, had referred the matter to Ofcom.” We think there’s a very good case and it’s a question then of how quickly Ofcom will look at it and fix it in time for the new season,” he added.