TELECOMS group BT has tripled the number of viewers ready to start watching its new sports channels to three million by signing a deal with Virgin Media.
The former telecoms monopoly is muscling in on Sky’s dominance of TV football after paying £738 million to show 38 English Premier League games for the next three seasons.
It previously said more than a million UK households were equipped to watch the three new channels ahead of the kick-off of the top flight season this weekend – after making them available for free to existing broadband customers.
The new three-year deal enables Virgin to offer BT Sport directly to its 3.8 million customers, with subscribers to its XL package automatically receiving it without having to take any action, meaning three million customers are now ready to watch it.
Other Virgin customers will be able to pay extra to add BT Sport.
Satellite customers who do not have BT broadband are already able to access the sports channels by paying £12 a month, or £15 for HD.
BT broadband customers can watch the channels online or via mobile devices, or on TV via a set-top box.
Marc Watson, chief executive of BT TV, said: “I am delighted we have signed a deal with Virgin Media that increases the audience for BT Sport to around three million homes overnight.”
The new sport channels will include 18 “top picks” each season as part of its Premier League football offering, as well as live FA Cup games.
They will also show live games from Scotland, France, Germany, Italy and the Europa League, the football conference, plus up to 69 games from rugby union’s Aviva Premiership and women’s tennis.