Sky Sports

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Sky Sports (UK & Ireland)
Sky Sports logo.svg
Launched 20 April 1991
Owned by British Sky Broadcasting
Picture format 576i (SDTV 16:9, 4:3),
1080i (HDTV)
Audience share 1.3% (1)
0.5% (2)
0.2% (3)
0.1% (4) (December 2013, BARB)
Slogan Your home of sport
Replaced The Sports Channel
Sister channel(s) Challenge,
Pick,
Sky1,
Sky2,
Sky Arts,
Sky Atlantic,
Sky Living,
Sky Livingit,
Sky Movies,
Sky Movies Box Office,
Sky News,
Sky Sports F1,
Sky Sports News
Website SkySports.com
Availability
Satellite
Sky Channel 401 (1 SD/HD)
Channel 402 (2 SD/HD)
Channel 403 (3 SD/HD)
Channel 404 (4 SD/HD)
Channel 405 (News SD/HD)
Channel 406 (F1 SD/HD)
Channel 407 (1 SD)
Channel 408 (2 SD)
Channel 409 (3 SD)
Channel 435 (4 SD)
Channel 436 (News SD)
Channel 439 (F1 SD)
Channel 170 (Sky 3D)
On Demand
Cable
Virgin Media Channel 511 (1)
Channel 512 (2)
Channel 513 (3)
Channel 514 (4)
Channel 515 (News)
Channel 517 (1 HD)
Channel 518 (2 HD)
Channel 516 (F1)
Sky Anytime
Smallworld Cable Channel 401 (1/HD)
Channel 402 (2/HD)
Channel 403 (3)
Channel 404 (4)
Channel 405 (News)
Channel 408 (F1)
UPC Ireland Channel 402 (1)
Channel 403 (2)
Channel 404 (3)
Channel 405 (4)
Channel 408 (News)
Channel 432 (1 HD)
Channel 433 (2 HD)
Channel 438 (News HD)
IPTV
TalkTalk Plus TV Channel 501 (1)
Channel 502 (2)
Channel 503 (3)
Channel 504 (4)
Channel 505 (F1)
Channel 506 (News)
Streaming media
Sky Go Watch live
(UK and Ireland only)
Virgin TV Anywhere Watch live (UK only)
Now TV Watch live (UK only)

Sky Sports is a group of sports television channels operated by the satellite pay-TV company British Sky Broadcasting. 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, and 4 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 is provided as part of basic packages. Sky Sports is perhaps best known for its Premier League football coverage.

History[edit]

Eurosport (1989-1991)[edit]

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.[1]

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 (which was privatised since 1987, after the original suggestion was to turn FR3 into a private body, however the final decision was that of 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)[edit]

The Sports Channel
Launched 25 March 1990
Closed 20 April 1991 (Renamed by Sky Sports)
Owned by BSB (1990)
BSkyB (1990-1991)
Availability (At time of closure)
Satellite
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.

The early years (1991-1998)[edit]

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.

More sports channels[edit]

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. Sky Sports Gold, a channel dedicated to classic sport, in a similar vein to ESPN Classic, launched on 1 November 1995, but ceased broadcasting after only a year on the air. 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 Digital (1998-present)[edit]

Sky Sports share of viewing 2000-07

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 utilized 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 the Arsenal vs. Manchester United. The concept proved popular[2] 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.[3] 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 saw ESPN 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.[4] 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.[5]

On 28 April 2011, Sky Sports' interactive features were made available on Virgin Media,[6] following Virgin's sale of Virgin Media Television to BSkyB.

To coincide with the 2013 Ashes series, Sky Sports 2 was renamed as Sky Sports Ashes on 30 June until 31 August.[7] As well as covering the Ashes, the dedicated cricket channel also featured the Women's Ashes, domestic cricket and various magazine and review shows.[8]

Other Sky Sports channels[edit]

Sky Sports 4[edit]

Sky Sports family of logos for SD channels since 6 January 2010

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 HD channels[edit]

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 Rugby 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.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11]

Sky Sports 2 HD was also rebranded to 'Sky Sports Ashes HD' in the same move used for the Standard Definition channel on 30 June 2013 until 31 August 2013.[7]

Sky Sports News[edit]

Sky Sports News.svg
Sky Sports News HD.svg

Sky Sports News 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.

Presenters on the channel include Natalie Sawyer, Simon Thomas, 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.

Sky Sports News Radio[edit]

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.

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.

At the Races[edit]

New at the races logo 2008.png

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.

PremPlus[edit]

Premplus.PNG

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 Sports F1[edit]

Sky Sports F1 HD.svg

Sky Sports F1 launched on 9 March 2012, providing Formula One coverage from March through to November.[11] Every practice and qualifying session for each Grand Prix is shown live and every race is shown live without commercial interruption.

Programming[edit]

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.

Football[edit]

Televised football rights are the cornerstone of Sky Sports and BSkyB's business model. The vast amounts of money Sky invested in football television rights have changed English football almost beyond recognition.

Sky Sports have introduced many new features into coverage of the game since 1992 including the initially-controversial permanent digital on-screen graphic scoreboard, an idea that was subsequently copied by American sports (now known as a score bug) and by other British sport producers.[12]

Premier League[edit]

Sky has shown live Premier League football since the League was formed in 1992. The first live Premier League game televised was Nottingham Forest's 1-0 win over Liverpool in August 1992.[12] Sky had exclusive live UK rights to the Premier League until the 2007/08 season when an EU Competition ruling forced the Premier League to share live TV matches among more than one broadcaster.

From the 2013/14 season, Sky Sports will show 116 live games a season, with the remaining 38 live games on BT Sport. Their rights entitle them to show games kicking off on Saturday evenings, Sunday afternoons, Monday nights and on midweeks or bank holidays. There are limits to the number of times any team may be picked for live television coverage per season. They also broadcast delayed extended coverage of the remaining non-televised games in Football First and show highlights of all the action in the Sunday morning programme Goals on Sunday.

Ed Chamberlin presents Monday Night Football, alongside Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, and Ford Super Sunday, whereas David Jones and 'Jamie Redknapp present 'Saturday Night Football. Martin Tyler, Rob Hawthorne and Alan Parry are the match commentators, alongside Alan Smith, Niall Quinn and Davie Provan.

Football League[edit]

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-offs, and two matches per round in the League Cup, including the Final.[13]

Simon Thomas presents the match coverage. Bill Leslie and Don Goodman are the commentators.

Scottish football[edit]

Sky share rights to the SPFL with BT Sport. Both broadcasters show 30 games per season, with Sky having first pick of matches. David Tanner presents alongside Neil McCann. Ian Crocker, Andy Walker and David Provan are Sky's main commentators.

Sky also show up to nine live Scottish Cup matches per season, normally starting with the fourth round when SPL teams are introduced. Sky 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.

UEFA Champions League[edit]

In 2003, BSkyB won joint UK rights to coverage of the UEFA Champions League with ITV, who had previously held exclusive rights.

From the beginning of the 2009-10 season, their coverage of the competition grew dramatically, including automatic rights to qualifying games (previously these were sold on an individual basis in auctions). From autumn 2012, Sky show all games on a Wednesday, plus all bar one game on Tuesdays until the Final. ITV have first choice of Tuesday games, and shared coverage of the final.[14]

Jeff Stelling presents Champions League coverage. The main pundits are Jamie Redknapp, Graeme Souness.

Spanish football[edit]

Sky Sports also show live matches from La Liga, the top tier of Spanish football, on Saturday and Sunday nights. Sky's La Liga deal is from the 2012-13 to the 2015-16 season. They broadcast at least four live matches from each weekend of the season.

They also show a review show called Revista de La Liga on Tuesdays. The Spanish football is fronted by Scott Minto, along with Guillem Balague and others including Michel Salgado, Rafael Benítez, Michael Laudrup, Pako Ayestarán and Ossie Ardiles. The main commentators are Rob Palmer and Kevin Keatings along with main co-commentators Gerry Armstrong and Terry Gibson.

Internationals[edit]

From the qualifying campaign 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. Sky Sports also show internationals featuring other European teams and teams from South America. Sky Sports won back rights to show England's away qualifiers for Euro 2012 but gave these rights back to ITV who won the rights to show every England match outside of tournaments.

The Irish deal was controversial as the Football Association of Ireland sold the rights for home competitive matches to Sky, a foreign broadcaster not available terrestrially in the state. EU legislation subsequently forced Sky and the FAI to allow the live broadcast of competitive games on a domestic terrestrial channel.

Other Coverage[edit]

Sky Sports show matches from the Victory Shield, which is a youth competition involving England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. They show Irish Premiership football as part of the deal to show Northern Ireland internationals. They have also acquired rights for the Coppa Italia from 2013–14.

Past Coverage[edit]

Sky Sports used to show the Charity Shield which is now on BT Sport, The Women's FA Cup Final which is now on BBC Sport, the A-League competition from Australia and New Zealand which is on BT Sport and the Football Conference have which is also on BT Sport. They used to show Italian Football in the early 1990s which moved to Channel 4 and is now on BT Sport. They also covered the FA Cup from 1988-2008, at the time they shared the tournament with the BBC from 1988-1997, then with ITV from 1997-2001 and then the BBC again from 2002-2008. At the time they had exclusive ties from each round and shared the final.

Scores service[edit]

Sky Sports broadcasts the studio-based rolling score update shows, Gillette Soccer Saturday presented every Saturday from 12:00 to 18:00 by Jeff Stelling, and Gillette Soccer Special, broadcast on midweek evenings with significant numbers of matches taking place, usually presented by Julian Warren. Both shows feature the host alongside a team of studio pundits and outside reporters each covering one match. The shows are broadcast on Sky Sports News with midweek shows sometimes also on Sky Sports 1 or Sky Sports 2 simultaneously.

Cricket[edit]

Sky was the first broadcaster to show live coverage of a complete overseas tour involving the England cricket team when England toured the West Indies in 1990. Since then Sky has acquired the rights to show home international series involving England, Australia, West Indies, India, South Africa, New Zealand, Pakistan and Bangladesh at various times as well as showing almost every England overseas tour, ICC tournaments such as the Cricket World Cup, Champions Trophy and World Twenty20 as well as the Stanford Super Series in 2008. Sky also shows extensive coverage of county cricket, with over 60 live games each season involving every county in all competitions.

Sky Sports' flagship live coverage of England's home test series began in 2006, when the ECB awarded Sky exclusive coverage of all of England's home tests, one-day internationals and Twenty20 Internationals including the 2009 Ashes. The ECB have since renewed Sky Sports's deal until 2013. Coverage is presented by former England captain David Gower and an illustrious commentary team including former captains Nasser Hussain, Andrew Strauss, Michael Atherton and Sir Ian Botham, popular former England batsman and coach and first-class umpire David Lloyd, former West Indian fast bowler Michael Holding and Australian legend Shane Warne, who joined the team during the 2009 Ashes. The team is completed by Nick Knight, or commentators from the touring side such as former internationals Rameez Raja (Pakistan), Ravi Shastri (India) and Shaun Pollock (South Africa). Highlights are broadcast in a prime time slot each evening, presented by Charles Colvile, alongside Bob Willis and another guest.

Coverage of county cricket is presented and commentated on by former Surrey and England batsman Ian Ward and Charles Colvile. In addition to the presenters and those commentators involved in the international coverage, Bob Willis, Paul Allott, Mark Butcher and Jeremy Coney commentate on county cricket along with special guests such as Glamorgan's former England offspinner Robert Croft, Kent batsman Robert Key, veteran seamer Dominic Cork and former Australia and Gloucestershire all-rounder Ian Harvey.

Overseas series involving England are presented either from the ground by David Gower or from a London studio by Ian Ward or Charles Colvile. The commentary team is largely unchanged from that used for England home series.

Other international cricket is presented by Matt Floyd, Paul Allott and Nick Knight in the Sky Sports studio alongside pundits such as Ian Harvey, Jeremy Coney, Colin Croft, Robert Croft, Robert Key, Mark Butcher and Vikram Solanki.

Match coverage is taken from host broadcasters around the world such as Channel Nine in Australia, Sky TV in New Zealand, Supersport in South Africa and STAR TV in India. This ensures the voices of the likes of Richie Benaud, Mark Nicholas, Ian Chappell, Simon Doull, Ian Smith, Robin Jackman, Pommie Mbangwa, Ramiz Raja, Wasim Akram, Mohammad Akram, Kepler Wessels, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar are heard each winter on Sky.

Coverage of the 2011 World Cup was presented from London by David Gower and Matt Floyd along with a team of pundits which included the regular guests as well as Ajit Agarkar and Marvan Atapattu.

Rugby League[edit]

The power of television over sport can perhaps be best portrayed by the change of rugby league from a winter sport to one played during the summer months under the banner of Super League. These changes caused great controversy when they were introduced in 1996, yet they have been seen by many as positive and as having an impact even greater than the broadcaster has had with football. The sport is now seen as being in a healthy state with two or three live matches from the Super League every week fronted by 'Eddie and Stevo' - Eddie Hemmings and former Great Britain World Cup winner Mike Stephenson - who are a rare example of a dual studio-presentation and commentary-box partnership in sports broadcasting. They are joined by Phil Clarke in both the studio and on commentary, Bill Arthur, the pitch-side reporter, and a guest (generally a coach or a former player). Barrie McDermott, Terry O'Connor, Brian Carney or Shaun McRae often occupy the guest position. Live Super League broadcasts routinely rank amongst the top 10 most watched programmes in a week on Sky Sports.Sky has sold rights to a highlights package of the Super League to BBC Sport, who air The Super League Show on Sunday nights/Afternoon in Northern regions, with a nationwide replay on Monday afternoon.

Sky also held the rights to show the majority of the matches from the Four Nations and the previous competition the Tri Nations live, with the other games being shown live or in highlights form on BBC Sport. This agreement ended in 2012 and Sky Sports surprisingly lost the rights to International Rugby League from the 2013 Rugby League World Cup. The matches for the 2013 World Cup are being shared between the BBC and Premier Sports with BBC covering all England matches, Wales v Italy, One Quarter Final, One Semi Final and the Final. The BBC have also signed a deal to be the home of International Rugby League covering the 2014 and 2016 Four Nations and the next Rugby League World Cup. Beginning in 2012, the channel airs Challenge Cup matches alongside the BBC: usually, they will air one match in the fourth and fifth rounds and two of the quarter-finals with highlights of the Semi-Finals and Finals which are exclusively live on the BBC. Rod Studd and Bill Arthur are the main commentators for these matches, with Carney, Clarke, Jon Wells and Graham Beecroft as summarisers/reporters. Until 2012, Sky aired Championship and Northern Rail Cup games on Thursdays and Sundays, until the rights for these were purchased by Premier Sports.

Sky Sports previously showed the 2008 World Cup exclusively live.

They also broadcast a weekly midweek rugby league magazine show, Boots 'N' All, during the season; Super League's Super Men, an interview show with legends of the game hosted by Brian Carney and Sam Tomkins; the Sunday night roundup show Super League Full Time, and a half hour summary of the weekend's Super League matches on Sky Sports News on Sundays presented by Martin Offiah. In addition, during the summer Super League Back Chat, usually a roundtable vodcast starring Stephenson, Studd and a rotating panel of rugby league journalists, is promoted to the regular TV schedule.

Coverage of the Australian National Rugby League Grand Final as well as the State of Origin series and the Anzac Test between Australia and New Zealand in May, returned to Sky Sports in 2010 on a two-year contract but have since ended and gone to Premier Sports who are the main broadcasters of the NRL.

Rugby Union[edit]

In 2003, it began its coverage of the Heineken Cup, outbidding previous rights holder BBC Sport with its offer of £20 million for 3 years, showing usually 10 matches each pool weekend as well as all knockout matches and up to three matches per round in the Amlin Challenge Cup.

In 2008, Sky Sports extended their already long-term deal with the RFU to continue showing England Internationals (outside of the Six Nations) exclusively live up until the end of the 2014-15 season, including their autumn test matches at Twickenham and their summer internationals overseas and have since agreed to cover England up to 2018. They have also signed a deal to cover France, Italy and Ireland's Autumn Internations from 2014-2018.

Sky had the rights to show live coverage of the Anglo-Welsh Cup and the Guinness Premiership but have since lost the rights to BT Sport. They have also signed a deal to cover the Pro12 from the 2014-15 season covering 30 matches alongside the current broadcasters BBC Wales, S4C, BBC NI and BBC Alba

They have also had exclusive UK rights for live coverage of the last three British and Irish Lions tours. This is partly because of Sky's links with News Corporation television channels in the southern hemisphere. Sky's links with News Corporation, also allows them to show live matches from the Super Rugby competition.

Sky Sports' rugby coverage is presented by Alex Payne, James Gemmell and Rupert Cox. Reporters include Graham Simmons and Bill Latham and commentary for Internationals, Premiership, Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup includes:

Match commentators:

Co-commentators/analysts:

They often take the host broadcasters commentary for Super 15 and Tri-Nations, with commentators including Grant Nisbett, Grant Fox, Ian Smith, Murray Mexted, Justin Marshall and Tony Johnson (Sky in NZ). The feed from Fox Sports in Australia usually involves Phil Kearns, Greg Martin, Greg Clark, Tim Horan, Brendon Cannon and Rod Kafer

Golf[edit]

Golf is one of the most broadcast sports across the Sky Sports channels, with at least one tournament shown live in 50 weeks of the year. Sky has one of the most respected and experienced golf broadcasting teams in the UK, with its major event coverage fronted by David Livingstone, expert analysis from Butch Harmon, on course commentary from Howard Clark, in-depth 18th hole interviews from tour coach and golfing expert, Tim Barter and main commentary from Ewen Murray and Bruce Critchley. Other golfers such as Peter Oosterhuis, Tony Johnstone, Thomas Bjørn, David Howell, Richard Boxall, Jamie Spence, Mark Roe, Robert Lee, Ross McFarlane, Sandy Lyle, Colin Montgomerie, Philip Parkin and Ken Brown contributing to their coverage over the years.

Major championships[edit]

Sky Sports has exclusive UK rights for live coverage of two of the four major championships, the U.S. Open until 2014[15] and the U.S PGA Championship until 2016.[15] From 2011 Sky have broadcast all four days of The Masters in High Definition and 3D, as well as the Par 3 Tournament.[16] BBC Sport broadcast the final two rounds simultaneously with Sky.[17]

Sky also broadcast major championships from the women's tour and senior tour, including the Kraft Nabisco Championship, U.S. Women's Open,[15] Senior PGA Championship, Senior British Open Championship and U.S. Senior Open.[15]

World Golf Championships[edit]

Since its inception in 1999, Sky Sports has broadcast the World Golf Championships exclusively live, with the exception of the 2001 WGC-American Express Championship, which was broadcast on the BBC. They usually present the broadcast on site, as they do for major championships and the Ryder Cup, reflecting their importance in the game as the next most important series of events after the majors.

PGA Tour[edit]

Sky also have exclusive live UK rights to broadcast the PGA Tour (until 2017) including The Players Championship and PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup. Sky were the exclusive UK broadcasters of the PGA Tour from 1993 to 2006 until Setanta Sports bought the rights in 2007, the Irish subscription network went into administration midway through the 2009 season and the rights for the remainder of the season were awarded to Eurosport.

European Tour[edit]

Sky showed at least 32 events on the European Tour (until 2012) including the Dubai World Championship.[15] Since 2009, Sky Sports and BBC Sport have shared live coverage of the BMW PGA Championship and Barclays Scottish Open, with Sky broadcasting live coverage of Thursday and Friday and the BBC screening the weekend action.

Ryder Cup[edit]

Sky Sports shows live coverage of the sport's premier event, the Ryder Cup. Since 1995, they have held the exclusive live UK rights to the biennial team event between USA and Europe, broadcasting the event in its entirety for the first time at Oak Hill in 1995. The event was broadcast in High Definition for the first time in 2006 at the K Club in County Kildare Ireland. Since 1999 it has also offered interactive coverage with options including the American coverage, Highlights and course guides. Sky holds the rights until 2012, with BBC broadcasting evening highlights. In 2010, Sky broadcast the Ryder Cup in 3D, making it the first live event on Sky 3D, Europe's first residential 3D channel.[18]

They also broadcast all of the other major professional team events in the sport such as the Presidents Cup, Seve Trophy,[15] Royal Trophy, Omega Mission Hills World Cup and Solheim Cup.[15]

In 2010, Sky Sports broadcast in excess of 150 tournaments from the men's and women's tours.[19]

Darts[edit]

Since the creation of the World Darts Council in 1992, since renamed the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC), formed when many of the leading darts players, including Phil Taylor, Eric Bristow, John Lowe and Dennis Priestley, broke away from the British Darts Organisation (BDO), the game's then sole ruling body, Sky Sports has broadcast the new organisation's main darts tournaments live, which currently includes the following:

BDO tournaments, including the Lakeside World Championship, continue to be covered by the BBC.

Ice Hockey[edit]

From 2006, Sky Sports has showed a replay from a match in the Elite Ice Hockey League every week. Due to large audience numbers, even though it is normally on Sky Sports 4, they decided to show a live game for the first time in several years when they showed the playoff finals in 2010. A new deal was signed for the 2010/11 season in which Sky agreed to show eight live games throughout the season and a weekly highlights show every week.

Boxing[edit]

Following the departure of Frank Warren's Sports Network to ITV during 2005, many of the top British boxers no longer fight on Sky. However, many top American fights are still broadcast as well as the remainder of Britain's top fighters. Presenters and commentators for Sky Sports' coverage include Jim Watt, Dave Clark, Wayne McCullough, Johnny Nelson, and Dermot Gascoyne. Matchroom boxing are now the main promoter on sky sports

Tennis[edit]

Sky Sports has live coverage of the US Open tournament (with red button service of all six TV courts) until 2015. Sky also has broadcast rights the ATP World Tour and the ATP World Tour Finals (all matches live) until 2017. Prior to this, six round-robin matches, one semi-final and final live on BBC until 2013.

Commentators:

WWE[edit]

In 1989, Sky acquired the rights to WWE, from America. Sky Sports 3 is considered the home of WWE programming on Sky, as the majority of the programmes are shown on it.

Part of the current deal with Sky states that major PPV's such as WrestleMania, Survivor Series, the Royal Rumble and SummerSlam are part of the Sky Box Office pay-per-view service, and that SmackDown's first broadcast moved from Sky1 to Sky Sports. As part of the deal, Raw is now shown live on Sky Sports 3 early Tuesday morning because of the time difference. SmackDown! is broadcast in Britain before it is aired in America on Friday nights. Sky Sports 1 shows six WWE PPV events live a year.

Sky also broadcast WWE's third brand, ECW on Sci Fi before it was cancelled. For a couple of months it replaced WWE Velocity on Sunday mornings. It is shown two nights after the US broadcast after a viewer complained to Ofcom in August 2006 about an image in the opening credits, and Sky agreed to air the program after the watershed.

The deal of 14 Pay-Per-Views did not account for WWE's extra pay-per-views which have been added subsequently, and therefore WWE Cyber Sunday would not have been picked up by Sky. However, a last-minute deal was struck between Sky and WWE, that allowed the PPV to be shown live on Sky Sports 1.[20]

The first WWE event to be shown in wide-screen (16:9) format on Sky Sports was No Way Out on 18 February 2008 at 1am on Sky Sports 1. Although after this, other WWE programming were still in standard (4:3) format however due to complaints all WWE programming will now be airing in widescreen from a down-scaled HD feed.

When WWE Heat ended in June 2008, it was replaced with WWE Vintage Collection, a programme which showcases classic archive matches from the extensive WWE Video Library.

On 30 January 2014, Sky Sports announced they had signed another five-year deal with WWE. Sky will now continue to exclusively broadcast WWE's flagship shows in the UK and Ireland through to 2019.[21]

WWE shows on Sky[edit]

The following list excludes WWE pay-per-view events where a minority are broadcast on Sky Sports while the rest are broadcast on Sky Box Office at an additional cost of £14.95 (€21.95 in Ireland) per event.

All broadcast on Sky Sports unless stated
WWE Raw
WWE SmackDown (occasionally shown on Sky1)
WWE NXT
WWE After Burn
WWE Bottom Line
This Week in WWE
WWE Vintage Collection
The WWE Experience (on Sky1) - Free
WWE Superstars (on Sky1) - Free

Motorsport[edit]

Sky Sports also broadcasts major motorsport events. This includes:

Formula One[edit]

In July 2011, Sky Sports acquired the rights to broadcast Formula One in the United Kingdom from 2012 until 2018,[24] including all practice and qualifying sessions in addition to the races. The broadcast is shared with the BBC, who are televising ten of the races live and extended highlights of the remaining ten on a delayed broadcast.[25] The announcement was controversial, with early promises that the races would be uninterrupted by commercials[26] doing little to quell the highly negative reactions from fans and observers.[27]

Gaelic Games[edit]

On 2 April 2014, Sky Sports signed a deal with the Gaelic Athletic Association to broadcast both the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship and the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship.[28] The deal gives Sky Sports 20 championship matches across both sports including both semi-finals and both All-Ireland Finals. Sky will have exclusive rights in both the Republic of Ireland and the UK to 14 of these matches with the remaining 6 matches being simultaneously broadcast by RTÉ in the Republic of Ireland. The deal covers the years, 2014 to 2016.

Andy Gray and Richard Keys dismissals[edit]

Sky Sports' football coverage was at the centre of controversy in January 2011 when footage emerged of presenters Andy Gray and Richard Keys making comments perceived as sexist. On 25 January 2011, Gray was sacked over the comments.[29] Sky Sports reporter Andy Burton was subsequently suspended coinciding with Gray's original suspension due to similar comments that were perceived as sexist. Keys resigned the following day. Gray threatened to sue BSkyB for unfair dismissal.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31991D0130:EN:NOT
  2. ^ Sky Sports Active is the third most popular reason for people to join Sky; Independent Article, June 2001
  3. ^ Channel 4 Test coverage bowled out by Sky and Five MediaGuardian, 15 December 2004
  4. ^ Sweney, Mark (29 April 2010). "BT and Top Up TV to launch discount Sky Sports deals in time for next season". guardian.co.uk (Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 2 August 2010. 
  5. ^ "Sky Sports no longer on Top Up TV". a516digital. 1 July 2013. 
  6. ^ "Sky Sports Red Button". Virgin Media. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "The Ashes 2013: Sky Sports dedicates channel to the Ashes". Sky Sports. 13 June 2013. 
  8. ^ "Sky Ashes arises to fight off the looming summer challenge of BT Sport". The Guardian. 12 June 2013. 
  9. ^ "Sky Extends High Definition Leadership with HD Channel Milestone". British Sky Broadcasting. 12 March 2010. 
  10. ^ "UPC adds 19 Sky channels in HD". TechCentral. 15 August 2012. 
  11. ^ a b "Sky Sports F1 TM HD – The Ultimate Formula 1 TM Experience". BSkyB. 25 November 2011. 
  12. ^ a b Sky legacy a mix of light and shade Scotsman.com, 10 May 2007
  13. ^ BBC wins rights to show Championship from 2009 The Independent, 7 November 2007
  14. ^ Sky and ITV renew £400m Champions League TV deal guardian.co.uk, 27 April 2011
  15. ^ a b c d e f g US Open stays on Sky Sky Sports, 16 June 2008
  16. ^ Masters live on Sky Sky Sports, 23 September 2010
  17. ^ BBC to continue Masters coverage BBC Sport, 21 September 2010
  18. ^ The Ryder Cup in 3D! Sky Sports, 27 September 2010
  19. ^ PGA Tour on Sky Sky Sports, 23 November 2009
  20. ^ Sky to show 2 major WWE PPVs Sky Sports, 1 November 2006
  21. ^ http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/ustv/s216/wwe/news/a547640/wwe-signs-five-year-deal-with-sky-through-to-2019.html
  22. ^ BBC and Sky awarded rights in new Formula 1 deal BBC Sport, 29 July 2001
  23. ^ Sky and BBC go head to head: F1 as you've never seen it before guardian.co.uk, 8 March 2012
  24. ^ Beer, Matt (29 July 2011). "Sky and BBC to share UK F1 television coverage from 2012 to 2018". Autosport (Haymarket Publications). Retrieved 31 July 2011. 
  25. ^ Gallop, Ben (29 July 2011). "New F1 deal explained". BBC Sport. Retrieved 31 July 2011. 
  26. ^ O'Leary, Jamie (29 July 2011). "Sky Sports says it won't show adverts during grands prix next year". Autosport. Haymarket Publications. Retrieved 31 July 2011. 
  27. ^ Collantine, Keith (29 July 2011). "So much for keeping F1 free-to-air". F1 Fanatic. Keith Collantine. Retrieved 31 July 2011. 
  28. ^ "RTÉ & Sky secure GAA rights, RTÉ in worldwide deal". RTÉ. 2 April 2014. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  29. ^ Andy Gray sacked for offensive behaviour Metro.co.uk, 25 January 2011

External links[edit]