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New ratings battle kicks off as Premier League returns

Robin van Persie and Manchester United will bid to retain the title in David Moyes' first season at Old Trafford. Credit: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

A challenge to the old order is expected as the new Premier League season kicks off - but off the pitch, with BT Sport taking on Sky for first day ratings.

The new contender paid £738 million for the rights to show 38 top-flight games a season for the next three years and has landed the first game of the 2013/14 season: the 12:45 kick off between Liverpool and Stoke City.

Sky has responded with a day of free football, with shows that normally go out on Sky Sports 1 being shown instead on Sky2 and Pick TV for free, including the later game between Swansea City and Manchester United.

BT hopes to break Sky's grip on armchair sports fans by enabling its broadband customers to watch the Premier League action for free.

It announced this week it had tripled its number of viewers to three million by signing a deal with Virgin Media.