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BT's IPTV aims to lure footie fans

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UK customers of BT's IPTV service will be able to avail of cut-price access to English Premier League football matches for the coming season.

The BT Vision Sport standard service costs £4 a month and will provide subscribers with access to delayed coverage of 242 games from the Barclays Premier League. A pay-per-view option is also available, allowing users to pay £1.99 to watch individual games.

The channel is part of the telecoms firm's BT Vision service, which can be accessed by BT Total Broadband customers in the UK who live in an area with access to Freeview digital television. The service can be viewed on the user's television set.

In addition to the Premier League games, users of the service will have access to 125 Coca Cola League (the second, third and fourth tiers of English football) and Carling Cup matches.

Live games will be available through the service for a higher price. An alternative package, BT Vision Setanta Sports, costs £9.99 a month. This provides Setanta's coverage of 46 live English Premier League games and 60 matches from the Scottish Premier League, as well as a variety of other sporting events covered by Setanta. The Setanta pack does not carry the content of the standard pack, but a combined package is available for £12 a month.

While Irish-owned firm Setanta is providing content through the service, BT Ireland was unable to comment at the time of publication on whether the firm has any plans to roll out the service in Ireland.

BT is launching a marketing campaign to support the introduction of the service, which will include national TV and press advertising in the UK.

"This is a great day for sports fans. Fans can now follow their team for less than a pound a week," said Ian Livingston, chief executive of BT Retail in the UK.

BT Vision chief executive Dan Marks said the service would appeal to football fans who felt the cost of watching football was too high.

"Millions of fans have resisted subscription services to date and so we feel there's a substantial gap in the market," said Marks. "Highlights on Match of The Day are fine but many fans want more, particularly those who follow teams that aren't often featured live. BT's unique mix of live and on-demand sport means there is something for everyone, at prices people can afford and on the terms they choose."

The BT Vision Sport service will be presented by football pundit James Richardson, formerly Channel 4's Gazzetta Football Italia host. The first 19 live matches to be screened on BT Vision from Setanta Sports will include Roy Keane's return to Old Trafford as Sunderland visit Manchester United on 1 September.

© 2007 ENN

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