BT overhauls its pricing structure

Broadcaster announces 4.9% price rise ahead of “biggest ever season”

New games will boost trade, said Cuthbert

By Jonathan Watt

A SIGNIFICANT pricing restructure will change the way in which BT Sport’s commercial subscriptions are calculated, as the broadcaster prepares for its “biggest ever season” after changes to the way the UEFA  Champions League is broadcast.

The company is implementing a 4.9% price rise for on-trade venues from September 1, alongside recalculating prices based on outlets’ 2017 rateable values (the 2010 RVs have been used up to now).

‘Personal pricing’ will replace the broadcaster’s existing 16-band price structure resulting in what it said will be a “more accurate” reflection of what pubs should be paying.

Existing BT Sport customers will be able to claim a ‘loyalty price cap’ (also 4.9%).

Bruce Cuthbert, director, commercial customers at BT Sport, told SLTN the firm had taken a year to reflect on the 2017 rates changes before making the decision.

He said: “We’ve been using a banded pricing structure based upon the 2010 rateable values but those have been superseded by 2017 rates.

“We took a year out to pause and see what was happening and we can’t sit on the 2010 rates.”

The loyalty pricing cap will, Cuthbert said, be available to operators who have been active customers.

He said: “Our loyalty cap for existing customers will protect them from these highs where their businesses have got bigger and we’ll stand by the cap.”

BT Sport has also said it will not raise the price of the following 2019/20 season subscription prices for pubs beyond RPI inflation, when customers will be able to screen a larger schedule of 52 English Premier League matches, after the broadcaster won the rights to 20 more games in the latest sale of EPL TV rights.

The news comes after changes to Champions League scheduling, which mean games will be broadcast at 5.55pm and a later 8pm kick-off, instead of having two games kick-off at the same time (7.45pm). Cuthbert said this means operators can benefit from extended ‘dwell time’ on midweek game days.

“The new format will be perfect for the licensed trade”, he added.

The broadcaster will also show an additional five FA Cup games compared to last year and continue its Fight Night boxing shows as part of subscriptions.

BT Sport is also set to roll out a new support package for licensees to help them get ready for the new season, including offering operators the chance to take part in free personalised digital training in partnership with Google to improve their outlet’s online presence.

“It’s not just about improving operators’ businesses with BT Sport,” said Cuthbert.

“If they can grow other parts of their business with these transferable skills that would be a brilliant thing for everyone.”

From 2019/20, Sky will show 128 EPL fixtures (up two), whilst Amazon won the rights to broadcast 20 games.