BT admits it still has a ‘long way to go’ to match Sky’s credibility in football

Head of BT Sport Simon Green says BT isn’t ready to be “enthusiastic or aggressive” in challenging Sky for Premier League television rights.

Despite holding the UK TV rights for the UEFA Champions League, Simon Green, head of BT Sport, admits his business isn’t yet ready to challenge Sky on the Premier League.

He says the current three-year cycle for UK broadcasters to bid on the football rights is “extremely awkward” and doesn’t allow enough time to establish a brand.

Speaking on a panel at KPMG’s Benchmark Forum event, Green said: “Establishing a brand in the UK market doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time for viewers to get accustomed to consuming football in a new way.

“We are still a long way behind Sky on the credibility gap because they have a 25 year lead over us. At the moment, three years isn’t enough for a firm like BT to make a decent return [on Premier League rights] and we don’t have the enthusiasm or aggression to do it at the moment.”

Also speaking on the panel was Andrea Radrizzani, chairman and founder of sports investment company Aser as well as owner of Leeds United FC. He believes the likes of Amazon, Google and Netflix could soon challenge the football rights dominance of BT and Sky.

He added: “It could be that Amazon, Netflix and Facebook have a go as they could bundle the football with a ready-made subscription. They could be challengers.

“Traditional players like BT and Sky will need to defend their business over the coming years. We’ve seen the NFL show games on social media in the US, so why not do the same with Premier League football?”

However, Green said it was “unlikely” the likes of Netflix or Amazon would bid on the Premier League as the UK broadcast market is “too mature”.

Admitting BT Sport had spent a huge chunk of money acquiring UEFA Champions League exclusivity, he said its plans over the coming years are much calmer.

“The Champions League deal was a big shock for the market, but we now want a sensible evolution over time,” he added.

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