Sky has confirmed it is to offer free Sky Sport for all on August 17, the opening day of the 2013/14 Premier League Football season.
A move that sees the broadcasting giant defend against the launch of BT Sport, a rival sporting broadcaster that has secured a number of key football fixtures for the upcoming season, the free day of Sky Sports will be available to Sky subscribers as well as Freeview and YouView set-top box owners.
With the collection of Sky Sports channels usually coming at a premium, the move marks a first for the satellite TV behemoth.
Coinciding with the start of the new football season, on August 17 the full Sky Sports 1 programming will be free to all UK viewers, with the sports channel taking up a temporary home on both Sky 2, for pay TV users, and Pick TV for Freeview box owners.
“It’s our biggest ever season of Premier League football and we’re inviting every home in Britain to enjoy the opening day,” Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports said.
He added: “All fans can join the action as we launch our new Saturday schedule for the most eagerly awaited Premier League season in years. With more matches than ever before, including 116 live Premier League fixtures, there’s never been a better time to be a Sky Sports viewer. If you don’t have Sky Sports, this is a great opportunity to sample what our football coverage has to offer throughout the year.”
Including a breadth of footballing content, the day of free Sky Sports will kick off with Soccer AM and include the game of the day and the new Saturday Night Football programme.
Last month BT kicked off the new channel wars, announcing BT Sport will be completely free for all BT Broadband customers.
"UK Sports fans have had a rough deal for too long,” Ian Livingston, BT’s Chief Executive said at the time. “Many have been priced out of the market but we will change this by giving away BT Sport for free with our broadband. Sports fans are the winners today."
Update: BT has responded to Sky's free content baiting, turning what is set to be a hotly contested battle between the two broadcasters into something of a cat fight.
“BT Sport is free every day of the season for BT broadband customers, not just free for one day," an official BT spokesperson stated. “We are pleased to see that our arrival has prompted Sky to attempt to raise its game, but this stunt does not disguise the fact that this season they have fewer top pick matches."
They added: “BT Sport customers will enjoy 38 live Barclays Premier League matches this season, including almost half of the top picks, so fans have a real choice of quality live sport on Saturdays for the first time in Premier League history. We think that means BT Sport is an essential part of the mix for sports fans.”
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