EE’s offer of six months free access to BT Sport is a first sign of crossover marketing since BT’s takeover, as well as representing a change in tactics for the UK’s largest mobile operator.
New and existing EE pay monthly, tablet and SIM-only consumer and small business subscribers are being given free access to all the BT Sport channels via the operator’s 4G network as well as Wi-Fi.
The fixed incumbent hailed the move as the first in a series of benefits that will be made available to EE customers.
However, the move also represents a change in approach for EE, which previously has majored on quality of its 4G coverage rather than breadth of content. In contrast, rival Vodafone pushes Sky Sports, alongside Spotify, Netflix and NowTV to potential customers (EE does offer NowTV to its fixed broadband users).
BT is also upping the ante in its battle with broadcaster Sky, which is looking to boost its presence in the mobile market.
The EE offer is targeted at consumers and small business users and is not open to corporate users.
It is the first time that a BT service will be promoted in the mobile operator’s shops.
EE pay monthly users will have access to the full line-up of BT Sport channels: BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2, BT Sport Europe and ESPN. Chief attractions are coverage of the UEFA Champions League and the English Premier League, both of which are available to watch live for mobile users.
As well as live and on-demand catch-up, the app offers additional video clips including highlights, interviews, video diaries, fixtures, results and league tables.
After the six-month free period, users can continue the BT Sport subscription as a 30 day rolling add-on that costs £5 per month.
“We are seeing the first fruits of EE leveraging BT’s content asset and as a result of this, we fully expect to see a return of the BT brand on the high street with EE promoting BT Sport in store,” commented Paolo Pescatore, director – multiplay and media, CCS Insight. Pescatore noted that BT Sport’s audience will grow to a potential 15 million+ and the analyst expects BT Sport to have more sport subscribers than TV rival Sky Sports by the end of the year.
“There is plentiful opportunities for subscriber and revenue uplift for both companies given that 14 million households do not buy products from either BT or EE, and a further 10 million households buy a product from only one entity.”
He added: “Timing could not be any better in light of the new Premier League season and we are expecting a busy second half of the year with Sky’s entry to mobile, Vodafone into TV and Virgin Media’s new set-top-box. Let battle commence, but Sky’s close relationship with content and rights owners still puts it in a far stronger position over its competitors.”