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New free-to-air sports channel to launch next month

Wednesday, August 23rd 2017 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

A new free-to-air sports channel is to set to launch in the UK next month.

FreeSport’s will be available on the Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, BT TV and Freesat platforms after receiving a broadcast licence from Ofcom in July.

The channels website promises an “ever growing sports line-up” including football, rugby league, tennis, ice hockey, MMA, basketball, cricket, speedway, Nascar, athletics and wrestling.

It also says: “For too long top quality sport has been locked behind a paywall, but now FreeSports aims to break this barrier and bring live sport back to the masses.”

But it includes no information on exactly which competitions will be featured and little else is known about the new channel, other than its channel number on various platforms.

FreeSports will be channel 95 on Freeview, 424 on Sky, 252 on Freesat and 95 on TalkTalk and BT (YouView).

Live international cricket will return to free-to-air television anyway in 2020 after the BBC bagged the rights to a number of England T20 matches.

A number of sporting events are classed as UK ‘listed’ events – those in Group A should be shown live on either BBC 1, BBC 2, ITV 1, Channel 4 and Channel 5, while Group B events must at least have highlights offered to those channels.

The current list of Group A events is the Olympics, FIFA World Cup, UEFA European Championship, the FA Cup final, the Grand National, the Derby, the Wimbledon tennis finals, rugby league’s Challenge Cup final and the Rugby World Cup final.

Group B events are cricket tests played in England, Wimbledon and Rugby World Cup matches other than finals, Six Nations matches involving home countries, the Commonwealth Games, World Athletics Championship, the Cricket World Cup, the Ryder Cup and the Open.

BT Sport’s free-to-air channel, BT Sport Showcase, broadcasts a selection of UEFA Champions League and Europa League football matches each season and promises to feature each British team involved in continental competition at least once.

The channel has this year also shown other major sporting events including America’s Cup.

Sky recently launched dedicated Premier League, football, cricket, golf and F1 channels as part of a shake-up of its sports offering.

None of its channels are free-to-air, but Sky Sports News and Sky Sports Mix are available to all Sky customers.

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