UK Sports TV Guide — Where and How to Watch Your Favourite Sports


List of Broadcasting rights for sport in the United Kingdom

Whether you’re a casual fan or an absolute sports nut, there’s never been a better time to follow sport in the UK. A bunch of new providers – along with some great offerings from the big names – has meant excellent access to all the big-ticket events. You can also watch straight from your smartphone – meaning you’ll never miss a moment of the action!

The advent of streaming, along with improvements in technology, has led to significant changes in the television market. Despite this, however, the popularity of major sporting events remains constant. Indeed, live sport has increased in importance to television providers, with many making it the centrepiece of their offerings to customers. All of this means that the average viewer stands to benefit significantly.

The Facts

  • BT Sport, Sky Sports and Amazon Prime among the many exclusive rights holders
  • Sky Sports and BT Sport packages available on other providers, including Sky, BT, Virgin and TalkTalk
  • NOW TV screens all Sky Sports content
  • Free-to-air providers like BBC and ITV retain some exclusive and shared rights to football, rugby and tennis.

Exclusive Sport Rights 

Securing the rights to anything and everything sports-related has been identified as a priority of any and every network. Some have decided to make sport the centrepiece of their offerings – we’re looking at you, BT Sport – while others have doubled down on their already great sporting offerings by adding new content and improving coverage. Sky Sports is one provider that has expanded their selection in recent years, adding new sports to their industry-leading range. Sky also created NOW TV, a provider that focuses on flexible, shorter-term deals while also giving you access to top quality Sky Sports content. Other providers, like Virgin, have decided to go all-in, by offering access to both Sky Sport and BT Sport – thereby keeping all their bases covered.

Major Event Rights 

In the sporting rights market, exclusivity is where it is at. By getting the rights to an event that no-one else can screen, you’ve immediately got a crucial advantage in attracting – and retaining – customers. This is where BT Sport’s exclusive Champions League and Europa League deal shows its value. BT Sports deal with UEFA gives them exclusive rights to broadcast every single Champions League and Europa League match – up to and including the final. The new agreement also gives them exclusive rights to show highlights after the match is over – formerly done on free to air – although they do offer frequent highlights through their social media channels. This means that in order to watch the Champions League or Europa League this season, you’ll either need to sign up directly with BT Sport or with one of the other providers that offer BT Sport as an add on – like Virgin, Sky or TalkTalk.

Shared Rights

While exclusivity is all the rage, sharing content has also become commonplace in popular competitions. The best example of this is the Premier League, where Sky Sport, BT Sport and relative newcomer Amazon Prime have split the 200 games of the 2019-20 season between them. The split isn’t even – Sky Sports has the lion’s share with 128 matches, with BT showing 52 games and Amazon’s showing 20. The majority of the rounds during the season will be split between Sky Sports and BT – which guarantees that you’ll have at least a few games to watch on each provider each round. The exception will be Amazon Prime’s games, which are to be two complete rounds on the 3rd to the 5th of December and over Boxing Day.  The FA Cup is another example of shared rights, with the world’s most popular domestic knockout competition to be shared between BT Sport and the BBC.

Sport in 2019-20 on UK TV

Alright, so we know a little about the providers and their sports – but what will there be to watch in 2019-20? Fortunately for sports fans, the upcoming season is packed full of action in all kinds of different codes. All the usual suspects are there – i.e. the Premier League, Champions League and Formula One – so you can get your fix of your favourite teams, players and drivers. The year is also a special one in that rarer events like the Cricket World Cup, the Rugby World Cup and the Ashes all take place within a few months of each other!

Note: The following lists the providers that have rights for the listed events – but the events may still be available on other providers. BT Sport and Sky Sports channels can be taken as optional extras with other providers, while NOW TV has access to all of Sky Sports’ content.  

Football

  • Premier League: Shared between Sky Sports (128 matches), BT Sport (52 matches) and Amazon Prime (20 matches).
  • Champions League and Europa League: Exclusive to BT Sport
    FA Cup: Shared between BT Sport (24 matches incl. final) and BBC (16 matches incl. final)
  • Carabao Cup (League Cup): Exclusive to Sky Sports
  • Championship, League One, League Two, EFL Playoffs: Exclusive to Sky Sports
  • Bundesliga (Germany): Exclusive to BT Sport
  • Serie A (Italy): Exclusive to Premier Sports
  • Ligue 1 (France): Exclusive to BT Sport

Cycling

  • Tour de France: Shared between ITV4, S4C and Eurosport
  • Giro d’Italia: Shared between Eurosport and S4C
  • Vuelta a España: Exclusive to Eurosport, highlights on ITV

American sports

  • NFL (American football): Shared between Sky Sports and NFL Gamepass
  • NBA (basketball): Shared between Sky Sports and NBA League Pass
  • MLB (baseball): Exclusive to BT Sport
  • NHL (ice hockey): Shared between Premier Sports and NHL GameCenter

Formula One

  • 2019 Formula One Championship: All games exclusive on Sky Sports, with the British Grand Prix, shared between Sky Sports and Channel 4

Cricket

  • Cricket World Cup: Exclusive to Sky Sports
  • The Ashes: Exclusive to Sky Sports
  • County Cricket: Exclusive to Sky Sports

Rugby union

  • Rugby World Cup: Exclusive to ITV
  • Six Nations: Exclusive to ITV
  • Premiership Rugby: Shared between BT Sport and Channel 5
  • Heineken Cup:Super Rugby: Exclusive to Sky Sports

Rugby league

  • Super League: Exclusive to Sky Sports, highlights on BBC
  • Challenge Cup: Shared between Sky Sports and BBC
  • NRL: Sky Sports
  • State of Origin: Sky Sports

Tennis

  • Wimbledon: Exclusive to BBC, with highlights and singles finals on Eurosport
  • Australian Open: Exclusive to Eurosport, highlights on BBC
  • French Open: Shared between ITV and Eurosport
  • US Open: Exclusive to Amazon Prime

Ready for kick-off?

From cricket to the various football seasons to the Formula One world championship, there’s always a major event taking place. Fortunately, there’s never been a better time to be a sports fan. While work and other life commitments can occasionally get in the way, improvements in mobile streaming now means that you can take the action with you everywhere you go. From the longer-term security of a deal with Sky Sports to a daily, weekly or monthly deal with NOW TV, there is a wide variety of deals to satisfy even the most discerning of sports fans these days.