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?
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.
UEFA Champions League - As mentioned previously, from the 2015-2016 season, BT Sport will show matches from the Big Cup exclusively live. However, coverage won’t be completely free like everything else on BT Sport - BT has yet to say what it’ll cost, but you’ll get the final and “top matches from earlier rounds” for nowt at least.
UEFA Europa League - Coverage of the least popular football competition since, well, its co-precursor the Intertoto Cup, is currently shared with ITV. But as with the Champions League, from 2015-2016 the Europa League is BT Sport’s alone. Again though, while the final and some of the top early games will be free, you’ll apparently have to pay for the rest, and BT hasn’t yet said how much.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You get BT Sport for free online via sport.bt.com and on your mobile phone and tablet by downloading the BT Sport app when you sign up to any BT Broadband or BT Infinity package. You get it for free on your TV too with any BT TV package.
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.
If you’ve got Sky TV, you can get BT Sport on it for free by signing up to BT Broadband or BT Infinity. If you’ve got Sky TV and you don’t want BT Broadband or BT Infinity, you can get BT Sport for £13.50 a month on a 12-month contract, in HD for £16.50 a month on a 12-month contract or for £13.50 a month plus a £30 activation fee on a monthly basis.
Whichever way you go about getting it, you’ll be able to watch it online and on your phone and tablet too.
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
- 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 to get 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
- 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