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Sky Sports is a group of sports television channels operated by the satellite pay-TV company Sky plc. Sky Sports is the dominant subscription television sports brand in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It has played a major role in the increased comme
Sky Sports is a group of sports television channels operated by the satellite pay-TV company Sky plc. Sky Sports is the dominant subscription television sports brand in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It has played a major role in the increased commercialisation of British sport since 1991, sometimes playing a large role in inducing organisational changes in the sports it broadcasts, most notably when it encouraged the Premier League to break away from The Football League in 1992.
Sky Sports 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 are available as a premium package on top of the basic Sky package. These channels are also available as premium on nearly every satellite, cable and IPTV broadcasting system in the UK and Ireland. Unlike the other channels, Sky Sports News HQ is provided as part of basic packages. Sky Sports is perhaps best known for its Premier League football coverage and Formula 1.
At launch on 5 February 1989, Sky Television operated Eurosport as a 50/50 joint venture with the European Broadcasting Union. The channel was marketed as one of Sky's four channels upon its launch, although additional sports programmes such as long-running international cricket coverage was occasionally broadcast on Sky Channel.
However, the service had encountered a legal challenge from rival sports channel Screensport, a joint venture between WH Smith Television and America's ESPN network. Subtitled as 'The European Sports Network', the channel was also available on the Astra satellite and available to early Sky viewers. Screensport's contention was that the involvement of the EBU with Sky's Eurosport channel had the effect of restricting and distorting competition in the sports market.
The European Commission agreed, and the Eurosport joint venture ceased broadcasting in early 1991. Screensport's victory was to be short-lived, as Eurosport would within months return under new ownership, this time with French broadcaster TF1 in Sky's place as 50% shareholder, and Screensport would eventually merge with the revived Eurosport in March 1993.
Sky's involvement with sports broadcasting did not end with its exit from the Eurosport venture, since following the merger of Sky Television with British Satellite Broadcasting in November 1990, it had acquired the name and assets from BSB's service "The Sports Channel".
The Sports Channel (1990–1991)
|The Sports Channel|
|Launched||25 March 1990|
|Closed||20 April 1991 (Renamed by Sky Sports)|
|Owned by||BSB (1990)|
Availability (At time of closure)
|Analogue||Marcopolo 1 11.93846|
The Sports Channel was a British television channel, which only showed sports. Launched on BSB in 1990, The Sports Channel survived BSB's merger with Sky Television to become one of the five channels operated by the consolidated British Sky Broadcasting.
Sky Sports channels
"The early years (1991–1998)" - Sky Sports original channels
The Sports Channel was renamed Sky Sports on 20 April 1991, and began broadcasting to Sky viewers via the newly launched Astra 1B satellite on that date, alongside its existing transmissions on BSB's Marcopolo satellite.
The channel was sold as one of the major draws of the Sky system and initially aired sports such as rugby and golf in 1991, before acquiring rights to German and Italian league football in 1996 (both carried over from The Sports Channel).
The channel was initially encrypted but broadcast free-to-view, requiring an analogue VideoCrypt decoder, but no paid subscription, to be viewed. Since VideoCrypt decoders were only officially available within the UK, this measure was intended to prevent viewing of the service outside the UK and Ireland.
However, it was following the formation of the Premier League for the 1992/93 football season, believed to have been assisted by the promise of higher TV payments, that Sky Sports became well known. By bidding £304m, BSkyB beat the BBC and ITV to acquire the live and exclusive Premier League football broadcasting rights for the United Kingdom and Ireland for a five-year period. In doing so, they had taken live top-flight English league football from terrestrial and free-to-air television for the first time in its history.
At this point, Sky Sports became a subscription channel, available with a monthly subscription on a standalone basis, or at a reduced price if taken with Sky's movie channels.
Sky Sports 1 mainly broadcasts Football.
Sky Sports 2
Sky launched its second sport-dedicated channel, Sky Sports 2 on 19 August 1994, three years after the original channel launched on the Marcopolo satellite on BSB. As a result, "Sky Sports" was renamed as "Sky Sports 1".
Sky Sports 2 mainly broadcasts Cricket and Rugby Union.
Sky Sports 3
On 16 August 1996, Sky Sports 3 was launched. The launch promotion involved many top sporting figures such as Dennis Bergkamp and Ryan Giggs to help the launch of the channel. Sky Sports also acquired the rights to Scottish football and the Coca-Cola Cup.
Sky Sports 3 mainly broadcasts Tennis and American sporting events like NFL and WWE.
Expansion of Sky Sports channels
Since the launch of Sky Digital, the number of "Sky Sports channels" has increased from the three carried over from its analogue service.
Sky Sports News HQ
Main article: Sky Sports News HQ
Sky Sports News HQ is a 24-hour sports news channel operated by Sky Sports. Sky Sports News launched on 1 October 1998, with Sky Digital becoming BSkyB's first digital only channel. On 10 April 2000, Sky Sports News relaunched as SkySports.com TV, a move to bring it tie into the launch of the SkySports.com website. However, the name was soon reverted to Sky Sports News.
The channel replaced Sky Sports Centre, a news show at 18:00, devoted to the key events in the sporting world.
Current presenters on the channel include Natalie Sawyer, Jim White, and Millie Clode.
On 5 August 2007, the channel was "refreshed" in line with the Sky Sports new look. The channel was again given a 'new look' on 23 August 2010 of its own accord, gaining a significant graphics overhaul and broadcast in widescreen and HD for the first time. The overhaul also coincided with the channel's upgrade to a 'Pay' channel, including its removal from Freeview.
It was rebranded as Sky Sports News HQ on 12 August 2014.
Sky Sports 4
Sky Sports 4 (originally launched as Sky Sports Xtra) is the fourth Sports channel launched by Sky. It airs repeats and live events of many Sky Sports programmes, such as La Liga. The channel launched in April 1999, and is a free bonus channel for those who subscribe to both Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2. The name Xtra rather than Sky Sports 4 was chosen as the original intention of the channel was to simulcast sporting events showing on the main channels with the addition of interactive services.
The channel has stopped simulcasting, and the interactive services have moved to the main Sky Sports channels. Sky Sports 4 now shows live and recorded sports events, and is in effect a fourth main Sky Sports channel. In light of this, on 6 January 2010, Sky Sports Xtra was renamed Sky Sports 4.
In 2011, Sky Sports Xtra returned as a subscriber-only video channel on SkySports.com.
Sky Sports 4 mainly broadcasts golf.
Sky Sports 5
On 10 June 2014, Sky announced that they would be launching Sky Sports 5. The channel will be the seventh Sky Sports channel to launch and will specialise in broadcasting European football, including UEFA European Championship qualifiers, La Liga and theEredivisie. Sky Sports 5 appeared on the Sky EPG as channel 407 on 12 June 2014. Sky Sports 5 launched on 12 August 2014. The first match broadcast on the channel was the 2014 UEFA Super Cup.
Sky Sports F1
Main article: Sky Sports F1
Sky Sports F1 launched on 9 March 2012, providing Formula One coverage from March through to November. Every practice and qualifying session for each Grand Prix is shown live and every race is shown live without commercial interruption.
Sky Sports News Radio
Sky Sports News Radio is a British online radio station broadcasting sports news, results and information 24 hours a day. It is a sister service to the television channel Sky Sports News HQ.
The station was launched in June 2010 and broadcasts online and via digital platforms from the Teamtalk studios in Leeds. It originally broadcast from 08:00 to 18:00 only, expanding to a full 24-hour schedule in August 2010 to coincide with the start of the 2010–11 football season. The station was initially only available to Sky Sports subscribers, but became free to all listeners when its sister TV channel was removed from Freeview. The station can also be listened to via the Sky Sports Apps and third party platforms such as TuneIn Radio and The Pure Lounge.
News reports are sourced from the Sky Sports News newsroom, Sky News Radio and information is shared with SkySports.com who are based in the same office. The station's managing editor is Mark Chesworth.
Temporary channel rebrands
To coincide with the 2013 Ashes series, Sky Sports 2 was renamed as Sky Sports Ashes on 30 June until 31 August 2013. As well as covering the Ashes, the dedicated cricket channel also featured the Women's Ashes, domestic cricket and various magazine and review shows.
From 18 September to 2 October 2014, Sky rebranded Sky Sports 4 as "Sky Sports Ryder Cup". The channel was dedicated to the coverage of the 2014 Ryder Cup, from Gleneagles.
From 14 February to 29 March 2015, Sky rebranded Sky Sports 2 as "Sky Sports World Cup". The channel will be dedicated to the coverage of the 2015 Cricket World Cup, from Australia and New Zealand.
Sky Sports 3 became Sky Sports Darts for the 2015 William Hill World Darts Championship at the Alexandra Palace on 18 December 2014 and was the home of darts till 5 January 2015.
At the Races
Main article: At the Races
At the Races was originally founded by the Go Racing consortium, a partnership of Channel 4, BSkyB, and Arena Leisure plc (owner of Ascot Racecourse, and acting on behalf of a further 27 out of the 59 UK racecourses) in July 2004. Following its high profile collapse (and Channel 4 removing itself from the consortium) the station – now purely a joint venture between BSkyB and Arena Leisure – focuses on horse racing from the UK, Ireland, North America and Germany, showing many live races and related shows. The station is "affiliated" with various betting companies, since gamblers are generally the sports main audience, and its pictures, provided by satellite link provider SIS, are also commercially distributed to betting shops across the country.
Main article: PremPlus
PremPlus was a pay-per-view channel dedicated to airing live Premier League Football. PremPlus launched on 18 August 2001, showing 40 pay-per-view Premier League matches. The main presenter on PremPlus was Marcus Buckland with former Arsenal manager George Graham providing punditry.
The channel was called Premiership Plus from 2001 to 2004, before being shortened to the later PremPlus for the beginning of the 2004–05 season.
PremPlus closed down after the last match of the 2006–07 season after Setanta Sports obtained a third of the Premier League rights for 2007–10. This left Sky with only 92 live matches, meaning a Pay-Per-View service was unsustainable.
Sky Digital (1998–present)
October 1998 saw BSkyB launch Sky Digital from a new satellite, Astra 2A at 28.2° east. The move to Sky Digital saw the launch of two new sports channels in quick succession. First Sky Sports News, a 24-hour rolling sports news channel launched. This was followed by Sky Sports Xtra, in March 1999. The channel was initially available exclusively on Sky Digital. However, by summer 2003, the channel had launched on Virgin Media.
On 22 August 1999, Sky utilised a feature of the, then new, Sky Digital system to allow an interactive football match to be shown. Viewers were given the ability to choose the things such as which camera they viewed during theArsenal vs. Manchester United. The concept proved popular and soon Sky used the new interactive service, known as Sky Sports Active, for other sports.
Around 2001, a cross-branding deal ensured that a quiz under the name of the Championship Manager series was produced with the Sky Sports name on it. Kirsty Gallacher was the host of the PlayStation 2 quiz.
In 2004, Sky signed an exclusive deal to broadcast live English cricket matches for four seasons from 2006 to 2009 for a fee of £55 million a year. As with their other exclusive deals this caused some controversy, as the matches were no longer available on terrestrial TV. Sky also signed an exclusive deal with the BCCI to televise the tour of India.
Following its earlier collapse, Sky purchased the majority of Channel 4's stake in horse racing channel, At the Races (the remainder of the stake went to Arena Leisure, the other partner in the channel and owner of Ascot Racecourse). At The Races was insolvent, and despite being promoted as part of the Sky Sports line up, had failed to turn a profit. It remains a provider of live coverage to betting shops, however.
Prior to the start of the 2004–05 season, Football First, an interactive football programme was launched. The show typically airs at 8.25pm and replays full coverage of the day's featured Premier League match, followed through the night by highlights from every Premier League match played on the day, which gives the viewer a chance to see a match of their choice. Sky Sports won the rights to air 'near-live' coverage of the Barclays Premier League, permitting Football First to air for another three years.
Sky Sports also snapped up the rights for the A1 Grand Prix and has won the rights to Speedway, for the next five years. The channel also has the rights to American sports, including NFL and WWE.
In 2007, a rival pay television operator, the Irish network Setanta Sports, acquired a share in the British rights to live Premier League matches, breaking Sky's long-standing monopoly. Setanta bought up various other rights such as PGA Tour golf and some top boxing matches, giving Sky a significant rival in the pay television sports market for the first time, but Sky remained the market leader by a wide margin. On 22 June 2009, Setanta's British operations went into administration and ceased broadcasting, which sawESPN enter the UK market.
Owing to an Ofcom review of premium services, Sky Sports 1 and 2 launched on digital terrestrial television through BT Vision on 1 August 2010 and Top Up TV the following day. This marked the first time Sky Sports premium channels have been shown via DTT since ITV Digital collapsed in May 2002. The channels were withdrawn from terrestrial television, in favour of BT Sport 1 and 2, at midnight on 1 July 2013.[
On 28 April 2011, Sky Sports' interactive features were made available on Virgin Media,[ following Virgin's sale of Virgin Media Television to BSkyB.
Sky Sports HD channels
Sky Sports 1 HD launched on 22 May 2006 as Sky Sports HD, and airs live cricket, Premier League and The Football League as well as English Premiership and Super League Rugby. The 2008 Ryder Cup was also screened in HD.
In July 2006, Sky Sports HD2 launched on Sky Digital channel 409, at the same time Sky Sports HD1 moved to channel 408, with Sky Sports News switching to channel 405. There was also a HD version of PremPlus, called PremPlus HD, which broadcast on Sky channel 483 until the football session ended. It was briefly branded Sky Sports HDX and used to broadcast other Sky Sports content in HD, before it ceased broadcasting.
HD broadcasts of rugby league's Super League began from the start of the 2008 season in February 2008. Super Bowl XLI marked the first NFL broadcast in HD in the UK; additional NFL games in HD have since been phased in. Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, Thanksgiving Day games and the NFL Playoffs were shown in HD from 2008.
Sky Sports HD3 launched on 17 March 2008, to coincide with WWE's first UK HD broadcast. The channel broadcasts a large quantity of WWE and golf.
Sky Sports HD4 launched on 29 April 2010.
Due to an Ofcom review of premium services, Sky Sports HD1 and HD2 launched on the Virgin Media platform on 2 August 2010. This marked the first time that Sky's HD programming was shown via a rival service. Smallworld Cable added Sky Sports HD1 and HD2 in the first quarter of 2012. UPC Ireland added Sky Sports 1 HD and 2 HD along with Sky Sports News HD on 16 August 2012.[
Sky Sports News HD launched on 23 August 2010. It was rebranded as Sky Sports News HQ HD on 12 August 2014 along with the standard channel.
On 1 March 2012, the HD channels were given a minor rebrand, with the 'HD' moving to the end of the channel names, for example Sky Sports 1 HD instead of Sky Sports HD1. Sky Sports F1 HD launched on 9 March 2012.
Sky Sports 2 HD was also rebranded to 'Sky Sports Ashes HD' in the same move used for the standard channel on 30 June until 31 August 2013. Sky Sports 4 HD will be also rebranded to 'Sky Sports Ryder Cup HD' in the same move used for the standard channel on 18 September 2014 until 2 October 2014.
Sky Sports 3 HD, Sky Sports 4 HD and Sky Sports F1 HD launched on Virgin Media on 15 July 2014. Sky Sports 5 HD launched on 12 August 2014 as well as being added on Virgin Media. However, Sky Sports News HQ HD is scheduled to be added, no launch is confirmed. Sky Sports 3, 4 and 5 HD are also scheduled to launch on UPC Ireland.
On 1 January 2015, Sky Sports News HQ HD, along with Sky News HD were added on Virgin.
Main article: Sky 3D
Sky Sports has made a number of high-profile sports broadcasts available on its 3D television service. The first sports broadcast on Sky 3D was the Manchester United vs Chelsea Premier League game on 3 April 2010. But as of 25 September 2014 future of Sky 3D looked in serious doubt as Sky announced they will not be airing a Premier League game for the 2014-15 season.
3D Broadcasting Tests
On Sunday 31 January 2010, the Arsenal vs Manchester United game was shown in 3D in around 30 pubs around the UK. The special glasses were seen being tried by Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, and the commentators and the studio presenters mentioned of this being a world premiere live Sports 3D presentation several times.
4K broadcasting tests
It was widely reported that Sky used the West Ham United v Stoke City Premier League game on 31 August 2013 as an internal production test for broadcasting 4K / Ultra HD picture.
In the "Sky Views Blog", Barney Francis, Managing Director Sky Sports stated that, although it was only view internally, the test has been key in helping Sky evaluate whether it will start broadcasting in 4K.
"We saw enough in this test event to know that live sport in UHD has real potential. The broadcast also demonstrated the capability of our satellite platform, which is ideally placed to continue supporting high-bandwidth video."
"That said, we’ve still much more to learn, particularly about how to make full use of UHD from a live production perspective."
Sky later tested 4K by broadcasting a whole week of Ryder Cup in 4K format.
It was later reported that Sky would launch their own 4K Set Up Box to broadcast sporting events in mid-end of 2015.
Sky owns exclusive UK and Ireland, or UK-only exclusivity rights to a number of sports, most notably the ones listed below. They also transmit a large range of other sports. Some of the BSB's Sport Channel programming were The Football League, the US Open, and the American football from the NFL.
Many of the BSB Sport Channel's rights packages, such as those for the FA Cup, Wimbledon and Test cricket, were acquired in tandem with the BBC.
For the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons, Sky Sports will show 116 live Premier League games each season. Games are shown on Sky's three distinct live football programmes:
- Saturday Night Football - presented by David Jones with Jamie Redknapp
- Super Sunday - presented by Ed Chamberlin with various pundits.
- Monday Night Football - presented by Ed Chamberlin with Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher.
Highlights and delayed broadcasts of Premier League games are shown on Football First. The main presenter of this is Sarah Jane Mee. Live coverage of the Premier League is shared with BT Sport who have 38 Live Games per season and BBC Sport who have highlights on Match of the Day & Match of the Day 2.
Among the football commentators will be Martin Tyler, Rob Hawthorne, Alan Parry, Bill Leslie, Ian Crocker, Daniel Mann and others. Co-commentary will mainly be provided by Gary Neville, Alan Smith, Niall Quinn, Davie Provan and Don Goodman. Sky Sports pundits are Graeme Souness, Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher, Thierry Henry, Jamie Redknapp, Paul Merson, Matt Le Tissier, Phil Thompson, Charlie Nicholls, Tony Cottee, Chris Kamara, Iain Dowie, Alan McInally, Dwight Yorke.
Sky Sports broadcast exclusive live coverage of The Football League and Capital One Cup. Sky are entitled to show 92 games per season, including the play-off semi finals and play-off final. Games are shown under Sky's FL72 Live branding, with Simon Thomas as the main anchor. Highlights of gameas are shown on both Sky Sports News HQ and Sky's dedicated highlights programme (FL72 review). Sky Sports broadcast two matches live per round in the League Cup, the two-legged semi-finals and the Final; a total of 15 live games per season. As part of the Football League contract, Sky Sports are also entitled to show the Football League Trophy. Football League Highlights are on BBC Sport broadcast as the Football League Show or the League Cup Show.
Sky Sports also show live matches from La Liga, the top tier of Spanish football and the Copa del rey, on Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights. Sky's La Liga deal is from the 2012–13 to the 2014-15 season. Presented by Scott Minto, with Guillem Balagué, Sky broadcast at eight matches from each weekend of the season (both live and as-live). Commentators / Co-Commentators include Rob Palmer, Kevin Keatings and Terry Gibson. Highlights and analysis of games can be seen on the weekly Revista de la Liga programme.
Sky Sports holds the rights to every home and away match featuring Scotland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Wales. They also will have highlights of every England game while these matches will be live on ITV while highlights of the home nations qualifiers are on ITV4. Sky Sports also show internationals featuring other European teams and teams from South America. England Matches are commentated on by Martin Tyler, Scotland by Ian Crocker, Northern Ireland by Daniel Mann & Gerry Armstrong and Wales by Bill Leslie.
Sky share rights to the SPFL with BT Sport. Both broadcasters show 30 games per season, with Sky having first pick of matches. Sky also show up to nine live Scottish Cup matches per season and share the rights with BBC Scotland, who show 5–8 matches per season. The Scottish Cup final is simulcast on both Sky Sports and BBC One Scotland.
Sky Sports additional football programming includes:
- Soccer AM - With Max Rushden & Helen Chamberlain
- Soccer Saturday - With Jeff Stelling
- Sunday Supplement
- Goals on Sunday - With Ben Shepherd & Chris Kamara
Summary of sports rights
|Premier League||116 live matches per season until 2016 (Packages B, C, D, E and F), 38 live matches per season on BT Sport & Highlights on BBC Sport, ***2016-2019: 126 live matches per season (Packages A, C, D, E and G), 42 matches on BT Sport and highlights on BBC Sport.|
|England football team||Highlights of all 2016 European Championship and 2018 World Cup qualifiers These rights are shared with ITV Sport who have live coverage.|
|The Football League||75 live matches per-season, plus live play-off matches and final (50 Championship, 25 shared between League One and League Two) until 2015; *** 2015–2019: 112 live matches per-season, plus live play-off matches and final *** Highlights on Channel 5|
|Football League Cup||15 live matches per-season, including semi-finals and final until 2018; Highlights on Channel 5|
|Football League Trophy||2 other matches + Final live on until 2018; Highlights on Channel 5|
|Scottish Premiership||30 live matches per season to 2017Shared with BT Sport, Highlights on BBC Sport Scotland|
|Scottish Cup||9 live matches including Final until 2018; Shared with BBC Sport Scotland|
|Scottish Youth Cup||Until 2018|
|Wales football team||Live until 2018; European Championship qualifiers live until 2016 and World Cup qualifiers live until 2018, Highlights on ITV4|
|Northern Ireland football team||Live until 2018; European Championship qualifiers live until 2016 and World Cup qualifiers live until 2018, Highlights on ITV4|
|Sky Victory Shield||Live|
|La Liga||Over 100 live matches per season until 2015|
|Copa del Rey|
|Eredivisie||Live until 2018|
|Major League Soccer||Live until 2018|