BSkyB takes aim at BT with free English soccer kickoff
LONDON (Reuters) - BSkyB will show live soccer for free in Britain on the opening day of the English Premier League season in August, the latest tactical move in a fight with sporting rival BT.
BSkyB has long been the dominant force in the British sports rights market but is facing a new challenge from former state telecoms company BT which has bought a share of the Premier League action.
BSkyB is shuffling its channels to make its soccer coverage available to non-subscribers on Saturday, August 17.
"Millions of home viewers can enjoy a live Premier League match, a Football League fixture, plus a host of other football shows at no cost," BSkyB said in a statement.
BSkyB and BT are locked in a marketing battle to offer subscribers a compelling bundle of television, broadband and telephone services.
BT has spent around 1 billion pounds ($1.5 billion) on its sports channels and will offer these free to its broadband customers from August.
BSkyB has responded with a mirror deal, offering free broadband to Britons who subscribe to its sports channels.
The real winners in the BSkyB-BT battle are the Premier League clubs who have enjoyed a 70 percent rise in the value of domestic TV rights to more than 1 billion pounds per season.
BSkyB will show 116 live games next season, while BT can screen 38.
($1 = 0.6520 British pounds)
(Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)
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