World of Sport

BT Sport looking to take golf and cricket off Sky Sports

World of Sport

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Two high-profile sports are reportedly going to be the next key battlegrounds as BT Sport will do war with Sky Sports over cricket and golf.

BT Sport have already shaken Sky by successfully muscling in on football rights, with securing a significant stake in Premier League football coverage a crucial move.

Then came their capture of the prestigious Champions League rights at great cost, and it has all caused considerable consternation at Sky, who understandably feel as though their territory is being intruded upon.

Now cricket and golf are going to be the areas of battle between the two major corporations and, unsurprisingly, it is unlikely to be friendly or remotely simple.

Sky are reportedly finalising a deal for cricket’s Indian Premier League, having paid considerably more for the flagship Twenty20 tournament than the nominal sum the UK rights cost ITV last year, and that comes as a result of increased pressure.

BT are understood to be very keen on wading in to grab cricket rights, while the popular US PGA tour represents another key battleground.

Sky currently hold the rights to the PGA tour, and will so until 2017 under the current terms of their contract, but it will still be up for tender this year if various reports are correct. As such, it is seen as a viable target for BT.

As upstarts and relative newcomers to the world of sports broadcasting, BT have very lofty ambitions and are clearly not looking to sit tight off the back of their existing deals.

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Sky announced a string of big deals this week including Lions rugby, Scottish football and the Super League - the latter of which was taken away from the noses of their new rivals - and it is clear that they are anxious to respond to the threat.

But BT are reportedly planning to bid heavily for a burgeoning cricket portfolio with the ICC wanting to hold an extravagant auction for their World Twenty20, one-day international World Cup and Champions League rights.

Sky have also snapped up the speedway's Elite League rights for a further five years to prevent losing yet another package to BT and both parties are clearly vying for each and every slice of the proverbial pie.

British sports broadcasting has seen over the last few years that Sky Sports are are very tough beast to bring down, or at least to rein in, but BT Sport now have a genuine rivalry established.

Setanta Sports and ESPN have each tried similar head-to-heads with Sky only to fall by the wayside - in the case of the former, quite dramatically, as it happened.

With BT Sport, however, a challenger has arrived that really do have the financial clout to strip Sky of a lot of their core coverage and maintain the scrap.

The coming years will be intriguing as the battle for key sports rights in British sport continues in earnest and - as is already happening - the landscape becomes ever clearer.

Fans have a greater deal of choice as competition has grown, but as the rights continue to be keenly fought for and split between rival organisations, it could become ever more messy and disjointed.

One thing is for sure, though, neither of these two heavyweights will be backing down any time soon. What isn't quite so apparent is whether the complexion of the current market is going to benefit British sport or hold it back.

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