With the start of the new 2010/11 football season just around the corner, news about the availability of Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 channels on non-Sky platforms is coming in thick and fast. BT Vision was the first to announce a deal struck with Sky towards the end of June, which will allow its customers to watch these two Sky Sports channels via its IPTV service from just £6.99 per month. Virgin Media followed suit yesterday by offering these channels in high definition (i.e. Sky Sports HD1 and Sky Sports HD 2) to its cable TV subscribers at an extra cost of £7 per month.
Today is the turn of Top Up TV – the UK digital TV subscription service operating on Freeview – to show its hand. A deal has been agreed with Sky, which allows Top Up TV to offer Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 to Freeview users (again in time for the domestic football league kick-off). Access to Sky Sports 1 alone would cost £22.99 a month; both Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 channels, £31.99 per month; and with ESPN thrown in too, £39.99 per month.
While these prices may seem relatively expensive compared to offerings from Virgin Media, BT Vision and even Sky itself, Top Up TV’s chief executing officer Nick Markham jumped to the defence of its pricing structure by saying that customers do not need to sign up to lengthy 12-month contracts nor broadband/ phone line bundles to access this service. He was also quick to point out that the prices charged by Top Up TV remain the cheapest on the market for standalone access to premium sports channels.
These deals involving Sky Sports channels have sprouted up since Ofcom (the broadcasting regulator in the UK) ruled in March that BSkyB would have to slash the wholesale price at which it sells its Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 premium sports channels to rival providers like Virgin Media and BT by more than 20%.