BT Sport was launched in August 2013 as BT’s answer to the all-conquering Sky Sports. The fact that it was free for anyone with BT (www.bt.com) broadband - meaning Barclays Premier League matches were free to watch on a weekly basis for the first time in 20 years - made it the first genuine challenger to Sky Sports since it launched in 1991.
Since then, BT Sport has cemented its position as a serious alternative to its rival. Around five million homes now have it, it’s still free if you’ve got BT broadband, and, from the 2015-2016 season it will show UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches exclusively live, having nabbed the rights from Sky (www.sky.com) and ITV.
What can you watch on BT Sport?
Premier League, FA Cup and Scottish Professional Football League
- Barclays Premier League - BT Sport shows 38 matches exclusively live each season - they’re usually shown on Saturday lunchtimes, but sometimes they’re shown on weekday evenings too - and has dibs on what to show in 18 of the 38 rounds of matches played each season. From the 2016-2017 season, BT Sport will show 42 Premier League matches a season.
- FA Cup - BT Sport shares coverage of The Oldest Domestic Cup Competition In The World™ with the BBC. BT Sport shows 24 matches live exclusively each season, plus the final.
- Scottish Professional Football League - You get 30 live Scottish Premiership matches a season, 10 Rangers games from the Scottish Championship, and two Edinburgh derbies on BT Sport. European and world football - If you’re something of a football scholar/hipster, BT Sport is the promised land, showing as it does live matches from American MLS, Australian A-League, Brazilian Brasileirão, French Ligue 1, German Bundesliga, Italy’s Serie A and Portugal’s Liga.
Champions League and Europa League football
- UEFA Champions League - As mentioned previously, from the 2015-2016 season, BT Sport will show every match from the Big Cup exclusively live. Find out more about the Champions League in our full guide.
- UEFA Europa League - As with the Champions League, from 2015-2016 the Europa League is BT Sport’s alone, available to watch on the new BT Sport Europe channel.
Note: To watch European football, you need the full BT Sport pack. It’s included at no extra cost for BT TV customers, but BT broadband only and Sky and Virgin Media TV subscribers have to pay a subscription fee.
- Aviva Premiership - BT Sport shows 69 matches from the top-flight of English rugby union exclusively live each season on Friday nights and Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
- European Rugby Champions Cup - You can watch 34 matches from the new European Rugby Champions Cup exclusively live on BT Sport, and the final.
- European Rugby Challenge Cup - BT Sport shows exclusive live coverage of the European Rugby Champions Cup’s little brother, but doesn’t specify how many matches exactly.
- MotoGP - BT Sport has the exclusive live rights to every race, warm up and practice from the world's premier motorcycling championship, and from Moto2 and Moto3 too.
- World Rally Championship - You get live coverage of every stage of what the FIA describes as “what’s widely regarded as one of the most challenging and diverse motor sport disciplines” on BT Sport.
- IndyCar series - With BT Sport you get stock car racing in the shape of NASCAR and Indy Car racing in the shape of the, er, IndyCar series.
- MLB - You get up to 10 Major League Baseball games a week and live coverage of the post-season and World Series.
- NBA - Watch up to seven games from the regular National Basketball Association season live each week, as well as the all-star game and the playoffs up to the finals.
- NCAA - BT Sport offers live coverage of National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball and football, including March Madness and bowl games.
- UFC - BT Sport has the exclusive rights to show more than 30 live events a year, including all Ultimate Fighting Championship numbered pay-per-view events.
- WTA - You can wrap your eyes around 21 Women’s Tennis Association tournaments in the company of Martina Navratilova - who probably knows a bit about tennis, to be fair - on BT Sport.
What channels do you get on BT Sport?
BT Sport 1
Unsurprisingly, this is the flagship channel, which shows live Barclays Premier League, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Serie A matches, UFC coverage and regular programmes such as Matchday Live With Fletch And Sav, Baker & Kelly's VSPO and the European Football Show.
BT Sport 2
On this channel you can watch live A-League and Primeira Liga football, live Aviva Premiership and European Rugby Challenge Cup rugby, WTA tournaments and weekly shows like The Clare Balding Show and Football Classics.
BT Sport Europe
This is where you’ll find all those football matches from Europe, including every game from the UEFA Champions League and Europa League. Check out our full guide.
As you’d expect, this is where live IndyCar, MLB, NBA and NCAA action is generally shown, as well as more niche sports and daily MLB, NBA and WRC review shows.
BT Sport Ultra HD
BT is the first TV service in Europe to offer an Ultra HD (4K) channel, available if you have a 4K-ready telly, a BT TV Ultra HD set top box (included with the Total Entertainment package), and BT Infinity. On this channel you’ll see selected games in the best definition possible - expect some of the more popular matches to be shown here.
Channels aren’t the only thing you get with BT Sport. As well as on your TV, you can watch sports online through the BT Sport website, or on your smartphone or tablet using the app. The app has the added bonus of features like goal alerts, live scores, and replays. All that can be found on the Red Button service too.
How do you get BT Sport?
Good question, champ. As always seems to be the way with this sort of gubbins, there’s an almost melon-twisting array of ways to get BT Sport, but luckily you’re clever enough to come here and have us talk you through them.
This’ll depend on your BT package. Every BT Sport channel is included in BT TV at no extra cost - though you’ll need to upgrade to Entertainment Starter or Entertainment Plus if you want to see matches in stunning HD. If you’ve only got BT broadband, adding a BT Sport subscription will cost £5 per month, but you’ll still be able to access BT Sport Lite for free.
If you’ve got Sky TV - or used to have it, and you’ve still got your Sky box - and sign up to Plusnet (www.plus.net) broadband, you can get BT Sport on your TV for £5.99 a month - £7.49 a month in HD. You don’t get it online or on your phone though.
BT Sport is included with the Virgin Media (www.virginmedia.com) TV XL package - in HD as well. If you have or want a different Virgin Media TV package, you can add BT Sport to it in both standard-definition and high-definition for £15 a month. If you get BT Sport though Virgin Media you’ll be able to watch it online and on your phone and tablet using Virgin TV Anywhere.
What’s good about BT Sport?
- You can get it for free
- Only way to watch live Barclays Premier League football without getting Sky Sports
- Exclusive live Champions League and Europa League matches from 2015
- Smartphone app lets you follow your favourite leagues and sports easily
- Red Button services gives you even more live content
- Offers the only Ultra HD channel in Europe, so you can watch games in incredible 4K definition
- Broad range of British, European and world football coverage
- Unrivalled domestic and European rugby union coverage
- Good coverage of American sports and motor sports
What’s bad about BT Sport?
- You have to get BT Broadband or BT Infinity if you want it for free
- No non-contract option à la Sky Sports on NOW TV
- Shows three times fewer live Barclays Premier League matches than Sky Sports
- Barclays Premier League matches mostly shown on Saturday lunchtimes - not convenient for everyone
- Champions League matches and BT Sport Europe £5 a month for BT customers not taking a TV package
- Ultra HD requires Ultra HD-ready TV, a more expensive set top box, and BT Infinity
- Production and presenting generally isn’t quite as slick as that of Sky Sports
- American sports coverage doesn’t include NFL and motor sports coverage doesn’t include Formula One