BTV Sports is the brand name for a group of sports-oriented TV channels owned & operated by WMFL Corporation under WMFL Worldwide. BTV Sports is the dominant subscription TV sports brand in the United Kingdom & Ireland. It has played a major role in the increased commercialization of British sport since 1990, sometimes playing a large role in inducing organisational changes in the sports it broadcasts, most notably when it encouraged the Premier League to break away from the Football League in 1992.
BTV Sports 1, 2, 3 & 4 are available as a premium package on top of the basic Sky Digital package. These channels are also available as premium on nearly every satellite, cable & IPTV broadcasting system in the UK & Ireland. Unlike the other channels, BTV Sports News is provided as part of the basic packages & also broadcasts on Freeview. BTV Sports is perhaps best known for it's Premier League football coverage
The early years (1990-1998) Edit
BTV Sports began broadcasting sports events in June of 1990. Back then, BTV Sports initially aired sports such as rugby & golf in 1990, before acquiring rights to German & Italian league football in 1990.
However, it was following the formation of the Premier League for the 1992-93 football season, believed to have been assisted by the promise of higher TV payments, that BTV Sports became well known. By bidding £302m, WMFL Corporation acquired the LIVE & exclusive Premier League football broadcasting rights for the United Kingdom & Ireland for a 5-year period. In doing so, they had taken LIVE top-flight English league football from terrestrial & free-to-air TV for the 1st time in it's history
More Sports Channels Edit
BTV launched it's 2nd sport-dedicated channel, BTV Sports 2 in August of 1994, 4 years after the original channel was launched. BTV Gold Sports, a channel dedicated to classic sport, in a similar vein to SC-Classic, launched on the 1st of November of 1995 & ended as a separate channel by 1997, but only really petered out (as a filler slot on the other BTV Sports channels) by 2001. At the start of the 1996-97 season, BTV Sports 3 was launched. The launch promotion involved many top sporting figures such as Dennis Bergkamp & Ryan Giggs to help the launch of the channel. BTV Sports had also acquired the rights to Scottish football & the Coca-Cola Cup
BTV Sports since 1998 Edit
BTV Sports has since then launched 2 new sports channels in quick succession. First BTV Sports News, a 24-hour rolling sports news channel launched. This was followed by BTV Sports Xtra, in June of 1999. The channel was initially available exclusively on Sky Digital. However, by summer 2003, the channel had launched on Virgin Media.
On the 22nd of August of 1999, BTV utilized a feature of the (then-new), BTV Digital system to allow an interactive football match to be shown. Viewers were given the ability to choose the things such as which camera they viewed during the Arsenal vs. Manchester United. The concept proved popular & soon, BTV used the new interactive service, known as BTV Sports Active for other sports.
In 2004, BTV signed an exclusive deal to broadcast LIVE English cricket matches for 4 seasons from 2006-2009, for a fee of £55 million a year. As with other of their exclusive deals this has caused some controversy, as the matches would no longer be available on terrestrial TV. BTV also signed an exclusive deal with the BCCI to televise the tour of India.
Following it's earlier collapse, BTV purchased the majority of Channel 4's stake in horse racing channel, BTV HorseRacing. BTV HorseRacing was insolvent & despite being promoted as part of the BTV Sports line up, had failed to turn a profit. It remains a provider of LIVE coverage to betting shops, however.
Prior to the start of the 2004-05 season BTV Premier League Recap, an interactive football programme was launched. The show typically airs @ 8:25 PM GMT (3:25 PM ET) & replays full coverage of the day's featured Premier League match, followed through the night by highlights from every Premier League match played on the day, which gives the viewer a choice to see a match of their choice. BTV Sports won the rights to air 'near-LIVE' coverage of the Barclays Premier League, permitting BTV Premier League Recap to air for another 3 years.
BTV Sports also snapped up the rights for the A1 Grand Prix & has won the rights to Speedway, for the next 5 years. The channel also has the rights to American sports, including the NFL & the WWE
Other BTV Sports ChannelsEdit
BTV Sports 4 Edit
BTV Sports 4 is the 4th Sports Channel launched by BTV Sports. It airs repeats & LIVE events of many BTV Sports programmes, such as La Liga. The channel launched in April of 1999 & is a free bonus channel for those who subscribed to both BTV Sports 1 & BTV Sports 2. The channel was originally launched as BTV Sports Extra, but later rebranded to BTV Sports Xtra. The name Extra rather than BTV Sports 4 was chosen as the original intention of the channel was to simulcast sporting events showing on the main channels with the addition of interactive services.
More recently the channel has stopped simulcasting & the interactive services have moved to the main BTV Sports channels. BTV Sports 4 now shows LIVE & recorded sports events & is in an effect, a 4th main BTV Sports channel.
On the 6th of January of 2010, BTV Sports Xtra was renamed as BTV Sports 4. BTV Sports-HD4 launched on Thursday the 29th of April of 2010 on ch. 454 (satellite)
BTV Sports HD ChannelsEdit
BTV Sports HD was launched on the 22nd of May of 2006 & currently airs LIVE Cricket, Premier League & Football League as well as Guinness Premiership & Super League Rugby. The 2008 Ryder Cup was also screened in HD.
In July of 2006, BTV Sports-HD2 was launched on Sky Digital ch. 409, while @ the same time BTV Sports-HD1 was moved to ch. 408, with BTV Sports News switching to ch. 405.
HD broadcasts of rugby league's Super League began from the start of the 2008 season in February of 2008. Super Bowl XLI marked the 1st NFL broadcast in HD in the UK with additional NFL games in HD that have since been phased in. Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, The Thanksgiving Classic & the NFL Playoffs were shown in HD from 2008.
BTV Sports-HD3 launched on the 17th of March of 2008, to coincide with WWE's 1st UK HD broadcast. The new channel will broadcast European Tour Golf in HD (along with any other golf BTV have the rights to).
BTV Sports-HD4 launched on the 29th of April of 2010
BTV Sports NewsEdit
- Main article: BTV Sports News
BTV Sports News is a 24-hour sports news channel operated by BTV Sports. BTV Sports News launched on the 1st of October of 1998. The channel replaced BTV SportsCentre, a news show @ 6:00 PM, devoted to the key events in the sporting world.
On the 5th of August of 2007, the channel was "refreshed" in line with BTV Sports' new look
- Main article: BTV HorseRacing
BTV HorseRacing is a BTV Sports channel that focuses on horse racing from the UK, Ireland, North America & Germany, showing many LIVE races & related shows. The station is "affiliated" with various betting companies, since gamblers are generally the sports main audience & it's pictures, provided by satellite link provider SIS, are also commercially distributed to betting shops across the country
BTV Sports programmingEdit
BTV owns exclusive UK & Ireland or UK-only exclusivity rights to a number of sports, most notably the ones listed below. They also transmit a large range of other sports
BTV Sports signed an exclusive deal with Ford in 2001
LIVE Premier League coverage has been a critical factor of the success of not only for BTV Sports, but for BTV Sports' owner, WMFL Worldwide as a whole. The foundations of BTV Sports have been built on the coverage & allowed a dramatic growth in the number of subscribers in homes as well as pubs.
BTV has had rights to the Premier League since 1992 when the Division One clubs broke off from the Football League to form the Premier League. BTV got the rights to show the LIVE matches in a 304-million pound deal, a prize just unthinkable @ the time & from 1992-now, BTV Sports has covered more than 1,200 Premier League matches LIVE & with the 2010-13 deal, it promises a total of 345 matches over the next 3 years, which under 60 over 2 deals, 92-96, 96-01, 66 in 01-04, 88 in 04-07 & 92 in the 07-10 seasons deal, brings the total of LIVE Premier League matches on BTV Sports over the 21-Year period to 1,623 matches. The 1st LIVE Premier League game televised was Nottingham Forest's 1-0 win over Liverpool in August of 1992. The millions & then billions of pounds which BTV has brought into the game has changed English football almost beyond recognition. BTV Sports have introduced many new features into coverage of the game since 1992 including the initially-controversial permanent digital on-screen graphic scoreboard, an idea that was subsequently copied by American sports (now known as a score bug) & by other British sport producers
BTV Football SaturdayEdit
BTV Football Saturday each Saturday, usually starting from 12:00-6:00 PM GMT (7:00 AM-1:00 PM ET). The show consists of 4 studio 'experts' giving their views on upcoming Premier League & Football League games until 3:00 PM GMT (10:00 AM ET), then when the games kick off, the host heads to reporters around the country to keep up to date on all the day's games
In 1996, BTV Sports bought rights to the Football League & the Coca-Cola Cup in a 5-year deal with the Football League. BTV showed 36 1st Division matches every season, along with 12 matches for both 2nd Division & 3rd Division. BTV also became the 1st ever pay-TV broadcaster to show the whole League Cup, including the final @ Wembley exclusively LIVE. In BTV Sports' 2002 contract, it was worth around £250 million & it ran until 2007. BTV has since twice renewed it's contract
BTV has also screened LIVE matches from the Nationwide Conference, the top tier of Non League Football, in some seasons
UEFA Champions LeagueEdit
In 2003, BTV won the rights to coverage of the UEFA Champions League. Matches that are not shown on 1 of the BTV Sports channels are usually available through the interactive service. In 2005, BTV Sports renewed their Champions League contract up until 2009. BTV Sports recently extended their Champions League contract till 2012. From the beginning of the 2009-10 season, BTV's coverage of the competition will grow dramatically, including automatic rights to qualifying games (previously these were sold on an individual basis in auctions). They will show all games on a Tuesday + all bar 1 game on Wednesdays until the Final
BTV Sports secured the rights to the FA Cup in June of 2000. Under the 3-year deal, BTV won LIVE & interactive coverage to the competition. Since the 3-year deal, BTV Sports has not renewed it's contract & has given the rights to SportsChannel (UK) & SC America
Currently, BTV Sports holds the rights to every home LIVE Scotland, Northern Ireland & Wales International
Spanish La LigaEdit
BTV Sports also shows LIVE matches from Spanish La Liga on Saturday & Sunday nights. They also show a review show called Revista de La Liga on Tuesdays.
BTV Sports has signed a new deal for exclusive LIVE coverage of La Liga for the next 3 seasons. The new deal for Spain's top league covers the 2009-10, 2010-11 & 2011-12 seasons & BTV Sports will broadcast @ least 2 LIVE matches from each weekend of the season
BTV was the 1st broadcaster to show LIVE coverage of an overseas tour involving the England cricket team when England toured the West Indies in 1990. Since then, BTV has acquired the rights to show home international series involving England, Australia, West Indies, India, South Africa, New Zealand & Bangladesh as well as showing every England overseas tour, ICC tournaments such as the Cricket World Cup, ICC Champions Trophy & ICC World Twenty20 as well as the Stanford Super Series in 2008. BTV also shows extensive coverage of county cricket, with over 60 LIVE games each season involving every county in all competitions.
BTV Sports' flagship coverage of England home series began in 2006, when the ECB awarded BTV exclusive coverage of all of England's home tests, 1-day internationals & Twenty20 Internationals including the 2009 Ashes. The ECB have since renewed BTV Sports' deal until 2013, meaning that the 2013 Ashes will also be shown exclusively on BTV Sports
The power of TV over sport can perhaps be best portrayed by the change of the rugby league from a winter sport to 1 played during the summer months under the banner of the Super League. These changes caused great controversy when they were introduced in 1996, yet they have been seen by many as positive & as having an impact even greater than the broadcaster has had with football. The sport is now seen as being in a healthy state with 2 or 3 LIVE matches from the Super League every week. LIVE Super League broadcasts routinely rank amongst the top 10 most watched programmes in a week on BTV Sports regularly.
BTV also hold the rights to show the Rugby League Four Nations LIVE & the highlights on BTV Sports' interactive service. BTV also announced in 2007 that they had bought the rights to televise National League (now Championship) matches midweek & they have screened 1 lower division match each week since that year.
BTV Sports showed the 2008 World Cup exclusively LIVE.
BTV Sports shows a weekly midweek rugby league magazine show, Boots 'N' All, during the season, along with a half-hour summary of the weekend's Super League matches on BTV Sports News on a Sunday night.
The National Rugby League as well as State of Origin & International Test matches will be shown from 2010, the 1st 2 months games will be shown free, but then after will be shown by subscription
BTV began it's LIVE coverage of what is now known as the Guinness Premiership on the 10th of September of 1994 with the match between Bath Rugby & Bristol Rugby & continues to do so by showing 1 LIVE match, usually on a Saturday, every week. BTV Sports currently shows 33 LIVE games a season & will do so until the end of the 2009-10 season. A deal with Premier Rugby means that from 2010, BTV Sports will share LIVE rights with SportsChannel (UK) & will show 26 LIVE games a season (including 1 Premiership Semi-Final) until the end of the 2012-13 season.
In 2003, it began it's coverage of the Heineken Cup with it's offer of £20 million for 3 years, showing usually 6 matches each pool weekend as well as all knockout matches. BTV Sports will start to broadcast games from the European Challenge Cup from the 2007-08 season, with 1 game every week.
In 2008, BTV Sports extended their already long-term deal with the RFU to continue showing England Internationals (outside of the 6 Nations) exclusively LIVE up until the end of the 2014-15 season, including their autumn test matches @ Twickenham & their summer internationals overseas. The new deal begins in 2010 & they will have the rights to show LIVE coverage of the Anglo-Welsh Cup as well as new proposed competitions from the RFU.
BTV Sports has also had exclusive UK rights for LIVE coverage of the last 3 British & Irish Lions tours. This is partly because of BTV's links with WMFL Corporation (WMFL Worldwide) TV channels in the southern hemisphere. BTV's links with WMFL Corporation, also allows them to show LIVE matches from the Super 14 competition
Golf is 1 of the most broadcast sports across the BTV Sports channels, with @ least 1 tournament shown LIVE in 50 weeks of the year
BTV Sports has exclusive UK rights for LIVE coverage of 2 major championships, the U.S. Open in June (until 2014) & the U.S. PGA Championship in August (until 2016). BTV also broadcasts major championships from the women's tour & senior tour, including the Kraft Nabisco Championship, U.S. Women's Open, Senior PGA Championship, Senior British Open Championship & U.S. Senior Open
World Golf ChampionshipsEdit
Since their inception in 1999, BTV Sports has broadcast the World Golf Championships exclusively LIVE as part of it's contract with the European Tour. They usually present the broadcast on-site, as they do for major championships & the Ryder Cup, reflecting their importance in the game as the next most important series of events after the majors
They also have exclusive LIVE UK rights to broadcast the PGA Tour (until 2017) including The Players Championship & The PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup
At least 32 events on the European Tour (until 2012) including the Dubai World Championship are shown on BTV Sports. Since 2009, BTV Sports has shown LIVE coverage of the BMW PGA Championship & the Barclays Scottish Open, with BTV broadcasting LIVE coverage on all 4 days (Thursday-Sunday)
BTV Sports has taken broadcasting of golf to a new level with it's coverage of the sports premier event, the Ryder Cup. Since 1995, BTV has held the exclusive LIVE UK rights to the biennial team event between USA & Europe, broadcasting the event in it's entirety for the 1st time @ Oak Hill in 1995. The event was broadcast in HD for the 1st time in 2006 @ the K Club in Republic of Ireland. Since 1999, it has also offered interactive coverage with options including the American coverage, Highlights & course guides. BTV currently holds the rights until 2012.
BTV also broadcasts all of the other major professional team events in the sport such as the Presidents Cup, Seve Trophy, Royal Trophy, Omega Mission Hills World Cup & Solheim Cup.
In 2010, BTV Sports will broadcast in excess of 150 tournaments from the men's & women's tours
Since the creation of the World Darts Council in 1992, since renamed the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC), formed when many of the leading darts players, including Phil Taylor, Eric Bristow, John Lowe & Dennis Priestley, broke away from the British Darts Organisation (BDO), the games then sole ruling body, BTV Sports has broadcast the new organisations main darts tournaments LIVE, which currently includes the following:
- PDC World Darts Championship
- Premier League Darts
- UK Open
- World Matchplay
- World Grand Prix
- Las Vegas Desert Classic
In 1989, BTV Sports acquired the rights to WWF Wrestling (now the WWE) from America. BTV Sports 3 is considered the home of WWE programming on BTV, as the majority of the programs are shown on it.
Part of the current deal with BTV states that major PPV's such as WrestleMania, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble & Summerslam would be part of the BTV BOX Office PPV service & that SmackDown!'s 1st broadcast would move from BTV 1 to BTV Sports. As part of the deal, RAW is now shown LIVE on BTV Sports 3 early Tuesday morning because of the time difference. SmackDown! is broadcast in Britain before it is aired in America: on Friday nights. BTV Sports 1 shows 6 WWE PPV's LIVE a year.
BTV also broadcasts WWE's 3rd brand, Extreme Championship Wrestling. For a couple of months it replaced WWE Velocity on Sunday mornings. It's now shown 2 nights after the US broadcast after a viewer complained to Ofcom in August of 2006 about an image in the opening credits & BTV agreed to air the program.
The deal of 14 PPV's did not account for WWE's extra PPV's which have been added subsequently & therefore WWE Cyber Sunday would not have been picked up by BTV. However, a last-minute deal was struck between BTV & the WWE, that allowed the PPV to be shown LIVE on BTV Sports 1.
The 1st WWE event to be shown in wide-screen (16:9) format on BTV Sports was No Way Out 2008 on Monday the 18th of February of 2008 @ 1:00 AM on BTV Sports 1. Although after this, other WWE programming were still be in standard (4:3) format however due to complaints, all WWE programming will now be airing in widescreen from a down-scaled HD feed.
When WWE Heat ended in June 2008, it was replaced with the WWE Vintage Collection, a programme which showcases classic archive matches from the extensive WWE Video Library.
On November 30th 2009, BTV Sports announced they had signed up to a new 5-year deal with the WWE. The deal means This Week in WWE & WWE Superstars will make their UK TV debut
WWE shows on BTV DigitalEdit
The following list (excluding WWE PPV events) where a minority are broadcast on BTV Sports while the rest a broadcast on BTV BOX Office @ an additional cost of £14.95 per event
|All broadcast on BTV Sports unless stated|
|WWE After Burn|
|WWE Bottom Line|
|This Week in WWE|
|WWE Vintage Collection|
|The WWE Experience|
BTV Sports also broadcasts major motorsport events. This includes:
- A1 Grand Prix: In addition, BTV Sports had their logo branded on the A1 Team Great Britain & A1 Team Ireland cars during the 2005-06 season
- Indy Racing League (including the Indianapolis 500)
- British Superbikes (Highlights)
- Elite League Speedway
- Speedway World Cup
- Speedway Grand Prix
- NASCAR Sprint Cup
- Race of Champions
National Football LeagueEdit
BTV Sports also broadcasts a variety of LIVE NFL games & NFL TV programming. For the 2007 & 2008 seasons, this comprises LIVE coverage of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game & 5 other Pre-season games, 125 Regular Season games, including NFL Sunday Night & NFL Monday Night & NFL TV's Run to the Playoffs. The package also includes the NFL Playoffs & the Super Bowl + the Pro Bowl.
The complementary coverage from NFL TV includes:
For the 2009 season however, BTV Sports reduced their weekly coverage of the sport. While they retained the playoffs, International Series Thanksgiving & NFL TV Thursday games, they reduced the weekly schedule. Unlike the previous 2 seasons, BTV does not show games on the red button @ 6:00 & 9:00 PM GMT (1:00 & 4:00 PM ET). In addition, they no longer broadcast NFL Sunday Night & NFL Monday Night. This provoked a strong response from fans of the game in both countries, with heavy criticism from many fans for both BTV & NFL-UK. However, the coverage is now in widescreen & occasionally in HD