BT signs up presenter Balding for sports channel

LONDON Thu Jan 31, 2013 6:05am EST

LONDON Jan 31 (Reuters) - BT has hired presenter Clare Balding to host a weekly magazine show on a new pay-TV sport service that is aiming to loosen BSkyB's grip on the market.

BT is preparing to launch its sports channels later this year after acquiring rights to show some Premier League soccer and doing an exclusive deal to screen Premiership rugby union.

Balding's star has risen after she played a leading role as a host of the London 2012 Olympics on the BBC. She is also the presenter of Channel 4 horse racing coverage.

"We wanted to give Clare an opportunity to anchor her own weekly show, which we see as a flagship programme for BT Sport," Simon Green, head of BT Sport, said on Thursday.

BSkyB, which has built its business on the back of Premier League soccer, also said on Thursday that it planned to start offering sports channels online for a daily fee.

BT will base its new sports channels in the Olympic park in east London.