BSkyB has muscled out challenger BT Sports to secure key matches at the start of the Premier League season, including Manchester United’s clashes with other top teams, José Mourinho’s first fixture back at Chelsea and Manuel Pellegrini’s first game in charge of Manchester City.
The first round of televised Premier League fixtures published on Thursday reveal that Sky Sports has focused its efforts on keeping out BT from Manchester United’s top matches, which attract the biggest football audiences, including the Manchester derby.
BT’s top matches in the opening weeks of the 2013/14 season are the London derby clash between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea and Everton versus Liverpool in the Merseyside derby.
Sky have exercised their right to first refusal in the first rounds of the season. They also say they will screen every meeting between last year’s top four.
Although BT have the rights for 18 first choice matches, Sky have been ruthless in their ability to tell them when these will be.
However, while Sky has plucked the pick of the top Premier League games until December, BT could have a strong end to the season, as it has only exercised five of its 18 first picks, leaving with it with 13 first picks at the business end of the season. Sky has exercised eight of its 20 picks, leaving it with 12.
But the contrast in the early games is marked, with BT’s first game of the season Liverpool v Stoke, while Sky is airing David Moye’s much-anticpiated first game in charge of Manchester United in a free-to-air live broadcast, in an effort to get one over on BT, which has spent £738m over three years securing the rights to 38 live matches a season. Sky paid £2.3bn for 116 matches per season.
Sky is also showing every fixture between last season’s top four clubs and will have shown a live match featuring every Premier League team at least once by 6 October.
But BT does have some prize games in the first half of the season, including Tottenham v Manchester United.
Live football in August 2013 on satellite TV :