Sky and BT Sport have reached an agreement whereby they would sell each other’s channels. The deal has been sold as a win for customers that would also increase audiences for their services. Under the agreement, Sky will offer to its customers BT Sport, and Sky’s sport, film and entertainment channels will be offered through Now TV.

The deal could provide a boost for the sports betting sector. Sky holds the rights to 126 Premier League football matches a season. It has 12 million television subscribers. BT launched its sport service four years ago and shows 42 Premier League matches a year.  BT Sport also has the exclusive rights to the Champions League. It has 1.7 million customers.

But the deal will not happen until 2019.  In the meantime both parties will be bidding at the Premier League rights auction.  Last time Sky agreed to pay £4.2 billion for five packages of matches over three seasons. BT agreed to pay £960 million for two packages.

Will the sharing deal cause the parties to bid less for the rights? It is doubtful because without content neither has anything to sell to the other. So far as the consumer is concerned the opportunity to see all matches on one channel will be welcomed.

However, looking to the US, Amazon is now showing 10 NFL games on Thursdays. Facebook is streaming American College Football, baseball, Mexican football and the world surfing championship.  Netflix has bid on Indian cricket.

But it does all depend on the price the consumer has to pay. At the moment it costs a UK subscriber £963 a year to watch every football match.

One hopes that greater opportunities to view will lead to a lower price and, therefore, more potential subscribers.  The growing interest in sports broadcasting from the likes of Amazon and Facebook could be a disruptive factor. For the sports betting sector increased access to live televised sports can only be a good thing.

by Warwick Bartlett