ESPN to Offer Live and On-Demand Soccer Coverage on BT Vision DTT/IPTV Service

UK incumbent telco, BT, said Tuesday that it has signed a deal with ESPN to carry the latter's new UK channel--which will offer live Barclays Premier League (English and Welsh) and Clydesdale Bank Premier League (Scottish) soccer, as well as coverage of international soccer and other sports--on BT Vision, its Microsoft Mediaroom-powered, interactive TV-enabled hybrid IPTV service (note: the service is enabled via a hybrid set-top box that allows viewers to access linear channels from the UK's free-to-air digital terrestrial platform, Freeview, alongside IP-delivered on-demand and interactive content). According to BT, the channel will be available at no extra charge to customers who subscribe to its Bronze, Silver or Gold programming packages.

ESPN--which has also just signed a carriage deal for the new channel with Top Up TV, a pay-TV service that runs on top of Freeview (note: on BT Vision, the channel will also be delivered via digital terrestrial)--recently acquired the exclusive rights to the 46 live Barclays Premier League matches in the 2009/10 season and to 23 matches a season from 2010-2013. The new channel's coverage of the Barclays Premier League will launch on BT Vision, August 15th. The channel will also provide live and exclusive coverage of 30 Clydesdale Bank Premier League games per season, ESPN says. In addition, it will offer League Soccer coverage and coverage of German, Portuguese, Russian, Dutch and US soccer, according to the company.
In addition to its line-up of 30 live Scottish soccer games, ESPN says that the new channel will offer BT Vision customers on-demand access to at least 28 games played by Scotland's two best-known teams, Celtic and Rangers. Those games will be available at 10:00PM on the day they are played, the company says.