BT mulls football bid

BT is considering a bid for rights to the Premier League when the auction for coverage of the competition gets underway early next year. The contest is also expected to attract interest from ESPN and the current holders Sky and Setanta.

The Financial Times quoted Dan Marks, BT Vision’s chief executive, saying that a bid was an “interesting idea”. However, Marks pointed out that it would be difficult to trump Sky.

In the 2006 auction for rights through to the 2009/10 season Sky bid £1.3 billion for 92 games in three packages. Setanta paid £392 million for its 46 games across two packages. However, it was the recent Croatia v England match that attracted the attention of the wider public, when it became apparent there would be no terrestrial coverage. Setanta has used BT Vision and Virgin Media’s basic packages to take its pictures to a wider audience.

While a BT bid might help increase subscriber numbers from the present 282,000, regulator Ofcom might step in were the bulk of football coverage to become absent from TV screens.