BT Sport digital exclusives could help it boot Sky out the park

BT Sport has the rights, on-screen talent and the marketing budget to make itself look a worthy sports contender, but it is the exclusive digital and mobile content it offers that could really propel it to the top of the league.

Lara O'Reilly

At BT Sport’s glitzy launch event this week, details were fairly scant about the exact proposition around its online player and app that will allow BT broadband customers to view its programmes for free, and non-customers from £12 per month.

What we do know is that the telecoms company will use the BT Sport app to amplify its WiFi hotspot credentials.

The app, alongside the online player, will allow customers to stream live content on the go, view programme listings and access on-demand – very much like Sky Go.

But to paraphrase the overused football manager adage, where BT Sport will really give 110 per cent in digital is by offering viewers exclusive content they can’t get anywhere else.

There were a number of reasons Setanta and ESPN – which is now owned by BT – failed to achieve mass uptake, but the fact that they offered essentially a watered down service compared with Sky can’t have helped.

BT doesn’t boast the same humongous rights packages as Sky, but where it can really differentiate itself and display some credentials in sport, where it has never previously ventured, is its digital output.

The strategy behind BT Sport is to act as an access point to recruit broadband customers, so it makes sense for it to launch world class digital features alongside TV.

It is understood the BT Sport app will also offer exclusive video content featuring its impressive roster of talent – everyone from Gareth Bale to Lawrence Dallaglio – which could certainly appealing to their individual fan bases.

What might tip the balance for the mainstream is if the BT Sport app manages to conquer the second screen experience. The BBC excelled itself during the Olympics with live stats, rules, league tables and other useful factoids for viewers to check while they took in all the action. There’s no reason BT can’t do the same – and if it can do so in real-time it will put its superfast broadband proposition in good stead.

BT Sport has certainly thrown down the gauntlet to Sky in terms of pricing, but if it gets the digital and mobile offer right the company could transform sports broadcasting into a whole different ball game.

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