BT launch BT Sport Europe

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BT are launching a new channel, BT Sport Europe, which will be the exclusive home of UEFA Europa League and UEFA Champions' League football, ready for next season.

The new channel will be added to the existing BT Sports channel package, which includes BT Sports 1 and 2 and ESPN.

The provider has also announced plans to launch an ultra HD channel in August, broadcasting a variety of matches from the Champions League, Premier League and Aviva Premiership Rugby at four times the resolution of HD.

But this ambition comes at a price - at least £5 a month for anyone who doesn't have a BT TV Youview box.

Wasn't it free anyway?

Previously anyone who had BT broadband could watch BT Sport online or via the mobile app free, but from now on new customers will only be able to get the channels free if they take a BT TV box.

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BT say they're going to offer existing broadband customers the chance to receive BT Sport 1 free for a third season - but new subscribers will have to pay.

The new pricing does provide a silver lining of a sort, at least for those who take their broadband from BT and their TV from Sky.

Instead of having to pay upwards of £13 for access to BT Sport on TV, they'll now be charged £5 a month, and get online access included.

There's also the following, somewhat enigmatic, teaser on BT's site:

"Want just the BT Sport Pack on Sky, without BT Broadband? It's coming soon."

It's actually possible to get BT Sport on Sky TV without BT broadband already - as Plusnet customers will know.

They've been able to add the bundle to their satellite channels for some time, at a cost of £5.99 a month, or £7.49 for the HD versions.

It's unclear as yet whether the price will change for such customers - as is the case for Virgin Media subscribers. At the time of writing they pay £15 a month for three channels, or included with the XL TV package or Big Kahuna and Big Daddy bundles.

People with non-BT Freeview will continue to miss out - although not entirely.

BT Sport have a couple of spots reserved on the Freeview listings, but they tend only switched on for non-BT subscribers for the occasional teaser event or weekend.

It's likely this is where BT Sport Showcase will fit in. It'll broadcast at least 12 Champions League matches and 14 Europa League fixtures, and each British team involved will be shown in action at least once.

So what's on?

When it launches on August 1st, BT Sport Europe will be ramping up to show all 351 UEFA Champions League and Europa League matches - with coverage fronted by Gary Lineker, Jake Humphrey and Rio Ferdinand.

Just like the other BT Sport channels, the entire output will be available in HD as well - and as mentioned above, some games will be available in ultra HD, also known as 4K HD.

The first fixture for the new channel, imaginatively called BT Sport Ultra HD, will be the Community Shield.

After that it'll be used for a mixture of UEFA Champions League and Barclays Premier League games, FA Cup fixtures, and rugby courtesy of the Aviva Premiership.

Ultra HD will require a better box than BT offer at the moment - so they'll also be bringing out a new version of their Youview+ box, with Ultra HD capability and 1TB of storage for recordings - compared to the 500GB on the current flagship box.

There'll also be seven extra channels available through the red button, so viewers can pick and choose when two or more Champions League games clash, or follow the goal action on busy weekends.

In the meantime, all 38 Barclays Premier League matches will be shown on BT Sport 1. As mentioned above, BT say they'll offer this free to existing broadband subscribers for another season.

But it looks like those who want to keep watching MotoGP, coverage of the World Rally Championships, much of the rugby, UFC, women's tennis and NBA basketball may have to join new subscribers in paying for the honour.

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