EE will offer its monthly mobile subscribers six months free access to BT Sport in what is the first major content tie-up between the two companies since BT’s takeover of the mobile operator.
The promotion will pull in more than 15 million mobile subscribers to BT Sports and launches with a “multimillion-pound” advertising campaign featuring footballing names including Rio Ferdinand, José Mourinho and Harry Redknapp, as well as the star of EE’s recent advertising campaigns, Kevin Bacon.
Once the six month period is up BT will hope to retain some of the customers with the option to pay £5 a month to hold on to the access.
The move comes during heated competition with rival Sky which has leveraged its dominant position in the broadcast landscape to move into telecoms following a deal with O2.
EE chief executive Marc Allera was quick to point out that the deal would not cannibalise those BT customers who already pay for its sports content.
“When I watch sport, I love to watch it on a big screen. You want to be looking at it on a large screen,” he said. “This is for when you don’t happen to be at home. It’s complementary not substitutional.”
Allera added that similar tie ups between mobile operators and content owners would be a continuing trend.
“Years ago, network capability and coverage wasn’t there to make the most of these content opportunities. You are obviously seeing examples of it in our market and other markets as well.”
In January this year BT bought EE in a £12.5bn take-over which many mobile operators tried to block on the grounds that it would dominate the market and harm competition.