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BT and Sky - different broadband strategies, same success

Friday, May 10th 2013 by Hannah Langston
BT and Sky seem to have different approaches to the broadband market
Both BT and Sky have millions of broadband customers, but they tend to promote the services in different ways.

BT and Sky seem to have subtly different approaches to the broadband market, as illustrated by BT's newly announced plans surrounding its entry into sports broadcasting.

The telecoms giant revealed this week that BT Sport - the long-awaited channel group that holds the live rights to a string of major competitions, including Barclays Premier League football and Aviva Premiership rugby union - will be available free of charge to anyone with a BT broadband service.

Obviously, BT Sport was always going to be competitively priced (for those of you interested, it'll cost £12 a month for the standard-definition version if you don't want to combine it with BT broadband, or £15 in high definition). But it's a real surprise to see the channel group - which will comprise BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN - effectively given away as a freebie to boost the company's broadband customer base. 

While the broadcaster speaks nobly about wanting to "return sport to grassroots fans", the decision to bundle BT Sport and broadband together is clearly a business move - it's doubtful that the average BT shareholder is overly concerned about the plight of football fans having to shell out on expensive pay TV subscriptions to watch their favourite team in action.

Whereas BT appears to be using sporting content as a marketing tool to increase the popularity of some of its broadband services, Sky has done almost the exact opposite. 

The satellite broadcaster has seen its broadband customer base climb to just shy of 4.4 million homes, but has largely focused on selling the product at a knockdown price to households that are already signed up to Sky TV.

Both of these approaches seem to be working pretty well. Sky and BT are the two biggest internet service providers in the UK and each reported a healthy profit in their most recent financial results publications. Only time will tell which strategy will prove most successful in terms of attracting customers and keeping existing ones happy.

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