BT ready for more ‘eye-watering’ TV rights bids

BT Sport is in a position to table more “eye-watering sums” when it bids for the next round of Premier League football TV rights, according to BT TV chief executive Marc Watson.

The channel, which only launched at the start of this season, recently shocked the sport by outbidding Sky with £897m for the 2015-18 Champions League’s rights.

Sky claimed BT Sport had paid over the odds but Watson said the deal will be “worth every penny”.

Watson, speaking at the UnitedCity sports summit in Manchester, said: “We have been able to afford some pretty eye-watering sums because it drives a position in a big and lucrative market, and we are in a position to invest more.

“We only pay what we think the rights are genuinely worth to us, and we hope that’s enough to win it. The losers always say the winners have overpaid but we know we wouldn’t have won it for less.

“We are a big business and we generate a lot of free cashflow, and if we think this is working for us and we see something that drives the business forward, then we are in a position to invest.”

On the rivalry with Sky, he said: “We don’t have to steal Sky’s share in the market to thrive. The market is definitely big enough for two. At the moment we put ourselves as being a strong second in the market and we are comfortable with that. I believe there is room for two strong sports broadcasters in the UK market.”

Although BT is able to meet regulations that mean the World Cup has to be screened on free-to-air television, Watson admitted getting it off BBC and ITV “would be a challenge”.

(Source: MediaGuardian)




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