The official promotional launch of the new BT Sport service today didn’t offer much in the way of answers for MLB fans wondering how their sport will be covered from 1 August.
We know that BT Sport has acquired ESPN’s MLB broadcasting rights as part of the ESPN UK/America deal and they are likely to be the only TV channel option for watching MLB for the foreseeable future.
BT will be offering two BT Sport channels alongside an ESPN channel as part of a bundle subscription package.
No details have been disclosed as to how the sports rights portfolio will be divided between those channels (except for the FA Cup games that will be on ESPN due to the terms of the existing contract with the FA), but the BT Sport channels will probably host the majority of their main content (Premier League football, Rugby, Tennis, MotoGP from 2014 etc), with any MLB programming likely to be on the new ESPN channel.
MLB is not the least bit prominent in BT Sport’s promotional info. Whether that might foreshadow a slight reduction in the number of live games available compared to the current amount on ESPN America remains to be seen. The fact that BT has two main channels, as compared to the current ESPN UK’s one, offers hope that there will still be plenty of broadcasting space for a good number of MLB games on the ESPN channel.
The only confirmed news we have is in regard to the subscription price details for BT and Sky customers. BT Broadband customers will get the channels for free, whilst Sky subscribers will pay £12 per month.
BT and Virgin Media are still yet to come to an agreement to sell the BT Sport package, the sticking point seemingly being BT’s desire to sell the channel directly to Virgin Media subscribers rather than the sale being conducted through Virgin Media (Sky have already agreed to this, so Sky subscribers would need to contact BT to get the BT Sport package added when it becomes available).
BT Sport will start broadcasting from 1 August, with current subscribers to the ESPN package seeing their subscription come to an end on 31 July. We know this new sports bundle will become the new home for MLB TV coverage in the U.K., but we still don’t really know what the house will be like when MLB fans start moving in.