BT will dangle three Aviva Premiership rugby fixtures on its Showcase channel in a bid to entice Freeview punters on to a BT TV subscription.
The first game of the season – Worcester Warriors vs Northampton Saints – will be broadcast live on BT Sport Showcase on Friday, October 16 (19:45 kick-off).
Two more live games will be broadcast for free in November – Northampton Saints will host current champions Saracens at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday, November 7 (15:15 kick-off) and on Sunday, November 29, BT Sport will broadcast Leicester Tigers vs Bath (15:00 kick-off) on Freeview channel 59.
Related: How can I watch BT Sport, How to get BT Sport on Freeview and Sky reveals first European Champions and Challenge Cup Rugby fixturesPremiership Rugby’s commercial director Dominic Hayes said: “This is a big day for English club rugby. To see a selection of live Aviva Premiership Rugby matches on a free to air channel provides a fantastic shop window for the most compelling league in the world.”
BT Sport Showcase was launched this year as a way of giving Freeview customers used to enjoying ITV’s free to air broadcasts of UEFA Champions League games a window into BT’s coverage of European games.
The channel serves as something of a tasting board for sports fans who might be encouraged to sign up for BT’s TV packages which start at £0/month – but require a BT Broadband subscription. As well as UEFA Champions League games, BT has mooted the idea of broadcasting sports like MotoGP and UFC on Showcase, but hasn’t comitted to any firm plans as of yet.
Customers who want to watch BT TV matches in HD will also need to take out a BT Infinity FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) package. This is because BT TV – a hybrid of digital terrestrial and IP TV channels – delivers its premium sports content over Internet connections. The extra bandwidth you’d get with an FTTC line is needed to deliver BT’s sports channels in high definition.
BT TV, Sky and Virgin Media customers with a BT Sport subscription will also be able to watch the same games on BT Sport 1 or online through the BT Sport mobile and desktop apps.