BT Sport awards ad sales to broadcast rival Sky

Sky Media will exclusively sell ads and sponsorships across all BT Sport channels in UK in deal worth estimated £45m a year.

BT Sport: owns broadcast rights for Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup
BT Sport: owns broadcast rights for Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup

BT Sport has awarded its advertising sales contract to Sky Media – the sales arm of its Premier League broadcasting rival Sky – ending a seven-year relationship with Channel 4.

The deal means that Sky Media will exclusively sell ads and sponsorships across all BT Sport channels in the UK. 

BT would not confirm the exact length of the agreement but said it was "multi-year". Campaign understands that the deal is worth in the region of £45m a year and is likely to include a break clause in 2022 to coincide with the end of the current Premier League broadcasting rights contract. 

Sky Media, which now has a monopoly over selling ads for live UK Premier League and European football, also represents all of Sky’s channels, including Sky Sports, and also sells on behalf of a range of broadcasters and channels including Channel 5, Viacom and Discovery.

BT Sport ran a competitive tender process in which Channel 4, which won the business in 2013, repitched alongside Sky. ITV was involved at an early stage of the process. 

A source close to Channel 4 said it was "very keen" to retain the BT Sport contract and "enhanced" its offer from the original £50m over three years that had been reported for the companies' original contract.

The latest move marks a significant shift in the history of the UK’s biggest pay-TV broadcasters. It has been steeped in acrimony in recent years as BT launched itself in 2012 as a competitor to Sky, which previously had a near-monopoly of rights to show Premier League and Champions League football in the UK. 

In addition to a relatively small share of Premier League matches, BT has also acquired exclusive rights to show the Uefa Champions League and Uefa Europa League, as well as sharing the FA Cup with the BBC. 

The wider media environment has also shifted dramatically in recent years, with online retail behemoth Amazon securing a small number of Premier League coverage in the UK amid a surge in popularity for streaming platforms. 

In a sign of hostilities beginning to thaw in 2017, BT and Sky agreed a content deal that allowed Sky customers to add BT Sport to their subscriptions, and for BT TV customers to access content from Now TV, Sky's streaming platform, on their set-top boxes for the first time earlier this year.

Andy Haworth, managing director at BT Sport, said: "Channel 4 have been a great partner who have been with us since launch and have helped us become the established business we are today. I would like to thank them for all of their hard work and support.

"We are excited to be forging a new partnership with the Sky Media team, whose expertise in the sport market stood out. We are excited about the new opportunities this will bring and look forward to working together."

Patrick Behar, chief business officer at Sky, added: "This new agreement between BT Sport and Sky Media is just another step forward in deepening the longstanding partnership between BT and Sky. From rolling out our world-class entertainment on BT TV through our Now TV service, and reaching a deal to offer both parties’ sports offerings in one place earlier this year, our relationship is going from strength to strength. This latest agreement is another perfect fit for both of us and it will mean Sky Media can offer clients all the best sports advertising available in the UK, in one place."

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