Sky offers sports fans free broadband in riposte to BT

LONDON Fri Jun 14, 2013 5:20pm BST

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's BSkyB said on Friday it would give its sports channel subscribers free broadband, fighting back against rival BT which is offering customers a mirror deal of free football with an Internet connection.

Sky said it would offer a year's free standard broadband from June 14 to people paying for its Sky Sports service. The offer would be available for a limited period. It also has a deal giving half-price broadband to new customers, whether or not they also subscribe to Sky TV.

Subscribers still need to pay 14.50 pounds for line rental a month, Sky said. They also pay 21 pounds a month for a Sky Sports package on top of a Sky TV deal, available from 21.50 pounds a month, according to the company's website.

Premier League football has been a linchpin of BSkyB's strategy, helping the company build its subscriber base to more than 10 million homes.

But BT shook up the market last month when it said it would screen English Premier League free to its broadband customers.

It has bought the rights to show 38 of next season's live matches. Sky still retains the rights to 116 live matches.

Analysts at Citi said Sky's offer was a sensible tactical discount.

"We think this is a sensible response from BSkyB and it further underlines our view that the response will be considered and targeted (as opposed to a blanket price cut)," they said.

"Reflecting this, we think it should be taken positively."

Shares in BSkyB closed down 0.6 percent at 787 pence, while BT ended 1.5 percent higher at 312.4 pence.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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