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BT Sport COO: “Pay-TV Not The Right Platform For Esports”

BT Sport’s chief operating officer, Jamie Hindhaugh told SportsPro he does not think pay-TV is the right place for esports as a long-term broadcast product.

Discussing BT Sport’s decision to continue positioning esports as an entertainment option, as a companion piece for its live sports, Hindhaugh said BT’s subscription model is ill-suited to esports.

“The challenge we have in the UK is we need to go back to basics on the pay-TV sports subscription service,” Hindhaugh said.

“We’ve got a fantastic ecosystem in the UK with Twitch and YouTube and other capabilities, and best will in the world, I’ve not had many people knocking on my door wanting to pay for something they can get for free.

“We weren’t looking for a sport replacement,” he said, discussing BT shifting its focus to esports in the absence of live sport around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What we were looking for was an entertainment format that utilised the power of esports, about bringing people together and creating a competition that enabled us to get our personality across, and bring some much needed respite to our audiences around some unique programming on our channels that combined those two worlds,” Hindhaugh said.

“It was such a success, and I’m so pleases with it, we’re already planning for what we do again next season.

“For me, this compliments between seasons what we do.

“But, as regards [to] replacing live sport, with the way we’re set up currently from a commercial aspect, I don’t think we are the right platform long-term for esports whilst they’re available to audiences in very many different ways.

“That’s not denigrating esports at all, it’s recognising the ecosystem that we live in and that we’ve been established on and that we flourish in,” he said.

With live sport continuing to make its return around the world with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, BT Sport will return live traditional sport to the cornerstone product of its content catalogue.