We knew it was coming, but now we've got confirmation: Next season, BT will start charging for full Champions League and Europa League coverage on BT Sport. When both tournaments start up again, BT broadband customers will need to pay an extra £5 to access the new games. If you're signed up for BT TV, however, you'll be able to watch the European fixtures at no added cost. BT Sport 1 will remain free for BT broadband customers, under a new package called "BT Sport Lite," but the company is yet to confirm whether BT Sport 2 and BT Sport ESPN are included. The broadcaster also hasn't explained how the new pricing structure will affect Virgin Media and Sky TV customers that currently pay for BT Sport, either as an optional extra or an inclusive TV bundle.
But BT didn't hold a press conference today just to talk about pricing. To broadcast this new allotment of European football fixtures, BT is launching three new channels: BT Sport Europe, BT Sport Showcase and BT Sport Ultra HD. BT Sport Europe will be a premium channel giving viewers the ability to watch Champions League and Europa League matches live. If you want to pick specific games, however, you'll need to be a BT TV customer. The broadcaster is revamping its TV platform so that viewers can switch matches with the red button and also view live in-match statistics. It's not clear just yet, but we presume that BT Sport Europe will default to the most popular fixture, and this is what will be shown by Sky and Virgin Media on their respective TV platforms. BT Sport Ultra HD, meanwhile, will offer 4K resolution sports coverage as an exclusive BT TV channel.
Fronting BT's Champions League coverage will be Gary Lineker, Rio Ferdinand, Jake Humphrey and Steven Gerrard. BT is also working on a new "Goals" show, presented by James Richardson, which will offer live news and highlights from all of the games.
If you're yet to take the plunge with either BT TV or BT broadband, fear not. BT is launching a BT Sport Showcase channel on Freeview later this year, replacing ITV's European football coverage. The channel will show at least 12 Champions League matches and 14 Europa League matches, including at least one fixture of every British team. The free coverage was part of UEFA's conditions when BT snatched the football TV rights from Sky, and ensures the competition, at least in some capacity, will remain accessible to the public.
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