This weekend saw the Premier League debut of BT Sport in its first season against veterans Sky Sports and viewing figures are positive for the newcomer.
BT Sport’s inaugural match Liverpool vs Stoke City, netted 764,000 viewers. This suggests that BT Sport is in a much stronger position that its predecessor ESPN, which scored just 502,000 viewers with its launch game in 2009. Last season ESPN picked up 713,000 viewers with its opening Newcastle vs Tottenham game.
Speaking to the FT (paywall) Simon Green, head of BT Sport, said: “Our audience compares very well with Sky’s first game last season despite them having had years to establish an audience, as opposed to weeks, and a bigger subscriber base.”
The figures suggest that viewers were getting used to the idea of having another pay TV football channel alongside Sky. BT Sport has been heavily promoted and a string of star presenters has been signed, but it could be reaping the benefits of ESPN and Setanta Sports’s previous entries into in the pay TV market too.
Sky Sports scored a record 3.1 million views for its first Premier League game of the season, Swansea vs Manchester United.
The BARB (Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board) figures only collect TV viewing figures and so there’s no way of telling how many people watched online. Green mentioned that “hundreds of thousands” of customers could have seen the game online or through the BT Sport mobile apps.
A technical snag meant that a few hundred viewers ended up missing out on parts of the first Premier League game.
A BT spokesperson told the BBC that customers who logged in before the game have experienced no issues and the technical snag was quickly resolved:
“Our team responded quickly and were able to make a difference so most of the customers who were experiencing problems were able to enjoy the remainder of the second half.”
While the problem was quickly resolved for most people it meant that some customers missed out on the first goal of the season.
The BT Sport app is currently only available to BT Broadband customers. While you can get BT Sport through Sky or Virgin Media TV, you’ll need to get your broadband from BT if you want to watch online or on your phone or tablet.