BT is to launch Europe’s first broadcast Ultra HD channel this August. The service will debut with the Community Shield, the traditional curtain raiser to the English football season, and later include selected games from the UEFA Champions League, Barclays Premier League, FA Cup and Aviva Premiership Rugby.
A new 4K compatible set-top box is being introduced in time for the channel debut. It will join the two existing YouView models offered to BT TV customers with and without a PVR.
The news came as BT announced its plans for the Champions League rights it won for the next season, beating Sky and significantly ITV, which will no longer broadcast its weekly free-to-air match. BT has its own plans here.
All 351 matches from the UEFA Champions League and Europa League next season will be free for customers who take BT TV.
BT Broadband customers who choose to watch on their Sky service, via the BT Sport App or on BT Mobile will be able to add the BT Sport Pack for £5 a month. BT Broadband customers have not so far paid an additional fee to watch the three existing channels.
Its on air presentation team will now include Gary Lineker, whose new BBC Match of the Day contract was marked non-exclusive.
BT Broadband customers will continue to receive BT Sport 1 free of charge. It will feature 38 live Barclays Premier League matches as well as the Aviva Premiership and SPFL.
John Petter, chief executive of BT Consumer, said: “When we launched BT Sport we promised to make televised football far more accessible and affordable than it has been to date. We have opened the market to millions of new customers and we want to build on that as BT Sport becomes the undisputed home of European football.”
A connected Red Button service will allow viewers to switch between matches when more than one game is taking place at a time.
Non subscribers will be able to view a new free to air channel. BT Sport Showcase will show a minimum of 12 UEFA Champions League matches and 14 UEFA Europa League matches and these will be available to anyone to watch for free. Each participating British team will be shown at least once.