By Claire West
BT has signed the rights to show live top tier football matches from Italy, France, Brazil and the US, as it strengthens its new channel BT Sport.
The live matches from Serie A in Italy, Ligue 1 in France, Brasileiro in Brazil and the Major League Soccer (MLS) in the USA will feature some of the greatest players and some of the top clubs in the world.
The footage was previously shown on ESPN. BT has bought the live games to bolster its new sports channel, which will be founded upon 38 live games a season from the Barclays Premier League, 18 of which will be the best quality 'first pick' games featuring the top six teams.
When BT won those rights for three years from 2013, it was the first time anyone other than Sky had won rights to show any of the 'first pick' games in the history of the Barclays Premier League.
BT has the new football rights for multiple years. The Serie A rights include 380 live matches per season delivered in HD, highlights packages from each match day as well as the weekly preview show Total Italian Football and weekly review Serie A Show. The Ligue 1 rights include 380 live matches per season in HD, a weekly preview show and highlights packages from each match day.
The Brasileiro rights include 100 live matches per season from Campeonato Paulista (Paulista) and Campeonato Brasileiro de Clubes da Série A (Brasileirão or Brazilian Serie A), weekly highlights shows from both competitions and TV Globo Soccer Magazine show "FootBrazil". The Major League Soccer Championship rights include 99 matches per season in HD.
BT will launch BT Sport by the summer of 2013. It has already announced that Jake Humphrey will be the anchor of its Barclays Premier League football coverage. The presenter, best known for presenting some of the BBC's European Championships football coverage from Poland and Ukraine, and Formula 1 for the BBC, will join BT in January to help mould the new channel.
BT has also revealed that BoxNation founder and ex-Sky Sports veteran Simon Green will head up BT Sport. The company has also hired award-winning match director Grant Best from Sky in an effort to ensure that the new channel is a must-have for sports fans.
Marc Watson, CEO, TV said of the new football deals: "We are delighted to announce that we will be adding to the Barclays Premier League live games with more top quality live coverage of games from some of the top leagues in the world.
"As well as enjoying 38 games from the Barclays Premier League, football fans will be able to follow David Beckham and Thierry Henri in the MLS and witness whether the resurgent Juventus can withstand the challenge of the two Milan giants in Serie A. They'll also be able to enjoy the talent on show in the French Ligue 1, where they will see the skills of stars such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva.
"We believe this extra depth of live matches will help us in our aim to develop an absolutely cracking sports channel, with fantastic live action, across the top football leagues, plus rugby union and other sports to come. We've hired the best talent behind the camera to bring to viewers the first rate production that they've come to expect from a sports channel in the UK."
BT Sport will be available easily across a number of platforms.