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BT Sport are reportedly on the brink of landing exclusive UK rights to Champions League football after outbidding BSkyB and ITV with a near £1 billion bid.
The telecoms company has outbid both BSkyB and ITV, the current holders of the rights, and are set to finalise the deal to show exclusive coverage of both the Champions League and the Europa League for three years from 2015 after talks with Uefa, according to The Times.
If finalised, the contract would signal the end of Champions League football on free-to-air television for the first time in Britain.
The deal is worth almost double what ITV and Sky signed for the current contract with little competition in 2011.
The move is the latest large scale investment from BT into live football coverage after it paid £738 million to show 38 Premier League games a season for three years.
BT has revealed that more than half a million people have signed up to its new sports channels ahead of its launch next month.
The group added over 95,000 retail broadband customers during the end of June - a 12 per cent rise on a year earlier.
The telecoms giant, who are aiming to break Sky's grip on sports pay TV, are offering broadband customers the chance to watch Premier League football for free.
The company expects further growth to TV and broadband customers once it launches the channels.
Ofcom said it has opened an investigation into Sky's "alleged abuse of a dominant position" regarding the wholesale supply of Sky Sports 1 and 2 - its flagship sports channels.
BT wants to offer Sky Sports via YouView set-top boxes to complement its own newly-launched sport offer.
But BT said Sky will not allow the channels to be broadcast over BT boxes unless it offers its rival wholesale access to its own BT Sport channels in return.
Ofcom said it will "consider whether Sky has abused a dominant position under UK and/or EU competition law".
The regulator added it will decide by next month whether to grant "interim relief" - which could temporarily give BT access to Sky Sports.
BT Sport plans to tempt pubs from Sky with a sports package which it claims could be 78% cheaper than its rival.
BT is offering pubs and clubs 12 months' subscription for the price of nine, which BT said for many independent pubs works out at £135 per month.
Hotels, golf clubs and betting shops will also be offered sport packages which BT said "massively undercut" its rival.
For the 2012/2013 football season, Sky charged customers a minimum of £57.75 per month for its Sky Sports HD channels as part of a TV package, or a minimum of £79.75 per month for a deal that included a phone line and broadband.
ESPN was charged at an additional £10 per month.
- 115 live Premier League fixtures
- 129 live Champions League fixtures
- Sky F1 channel
- Range of other sports
For the 2013/2014 season, two BT Sport channels and ESPN will be offered free to customers who pay for BT broadband.
BT Infinity fibre broadband will cost £30.45 per month (including a £15.45 monthly line rental fee) or £25.45 per month for copper broadband.
Customers not subscribing to BT internet deals can buy the sport channels through satellite services for £15 per month in HD or £12 per month in SD.
- 38 live Premier League matches
- FA Cup, Europa League matches on ESPN
- 69 live rugby Premiership matches
- Range of other sports
BT Sport has announced that its new channels will be available at no extra cost to BT broadband customers.
The channels own the rights to 38 live Premier League fixtures as well as FA Cup and Europa League matches on ESPN, women's tennis matches, MotoGP races and UFC fights.
BT chief executive Ian Livingstone said the pricing was aimed at increasing the number of UK households which subscribe to sports channels.
"UK Sports fans have had a rough deal for too long. Many have been priced out of the market but we will change this by giving away BT Sport for free with our broadband," he said.
"Sports fans are the winners today."
Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has signed a three-year deal with BT Sport as the company prepares to launch its new sports TV channel.
BT said Ferdinand would be employed as an "interviewer, programme-maker and football expert."
The new channel will broadcast 38 Premier League fixtures next season as well as top flight games from Italy, France, Brazil and USA.
Ferdinand said: “I am really excited about joining BT Sport. I will be doing a lot more than sitting on a sofa working as a football expert.
"I am going to be able to make programmes for BT Sport, not just about football, but also about other things that I am passionate about."
I welcome the fact the report states that not only was there no evidence of actual bias on my part in the handling of the BSkyB bid but that I put in place robust systems to ensure it would be handled with impartiality.
However, I have always accepted lessons needed to be learned, in particular with respect to the role of special advisers, which is why guidance has since been issued.
Lord Justice Leveson has said that the former Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt behaved "commendably" over the BSkyB bid, and places blame on his special adviser Adam Smith.
In his report, he writes: "Mr Hunt immediately put in place robust systems to ensure the remaining stages of the bid would be handled with fairness, impartiality and transparency, all in line with his quasi-judicial obligations."
"In every respect bar one, the bid was commendably handled."
Mr Hunt was accused of getting too close to News Corporation after the company released a series of emails exchanges between its chief lobbyist Frédéric Michel and Jeremy Hunt's office.
Adam Smith later resigned over the issue.