The company said that having based its pricing on the 2010 rates valuation, it was now having to shift to 2017/18 valuations. However, for existing BT Sport customers, it is offering a loyalty cap which will mean prices will not rise by more than 4.9% from 1 September, depending on the businesses rateable value.
Bruce Cuthbert, BT Sport director, said: “We’ve not changed rateable values since we launched in 2010. We needed to prepare for it and see what was going on in the sector before moving to the 2017/18 rates. However, we don’t believe we can stay on those rates any more.”
He highlighted the loyalty cap, available to any existing customers, and said BT Sport would be offering a huge range of personal pricing plans geared around its customers.
He said that going forward, in a move to be transparent and allow businesses to plan, for 2019/20 BT Sport would be capping its pricing at RPI, so increases would be no higher than RPI for the year ahead.
To offset the increased costs, Cuthbert highlighted a number of improvements to the BT package, including the fact Champions League matches were now being staggered, which would mean pubs that previously had to pick one match in an evening would now be able to show both, enabling licensees to potentially keep punters for longer, with the first kick-off at 6pm and the second at 8pm.
Cuthbert added: “The cornerstone of next season is Champions League. The changes to fixtures extends the viewing window massively for pubs to show games from 6pm through to 10pm. It’s doubling the number of viewing opportunities and potentially means people will stay in the pub for longer.”
Other sports highlights will see BT show five more FA Cup games than last year, and it remains the home for premiership rugby and the only place to watch the Heineken Cup, Cuthbert added. Boxing will also continue to be a focus and BT will be bringing further Tyson Fury matches to pubs.
However, an interesting and innovative development has seen the company tie up with Google Digital Garage to offer digital training opportunities to licensees.
Research among BT Sport customers had shown 58% of licensees would use social media more if they knew how to make the most of it, the company said.
To tackle that, BT Sport has now announced a partnership with Google Digital Garage to offer bespoke training courses to its customers to help them improve their digital and social skills.
The business will offer 800 places on the day-long course, which will be tailored to the current skill levels of the operators, from beginner to more advanced, in 10 locations around the UK.
Cuthbert said the aim of the courses was to focus “on how to make your business more visible online,” to tap into the growing trend of customers expecting to be able to search, find and plan their visits ahead of time.
The six-hour training package will cover workshops, lectures and one-to-one coaching, BT Sport said.
Simon Delaney, landlord of former Great British Pub Award winner the Firbank Pub & Kitchen in Wythenshawe, Manchester, trialled the training and said: “The trainers were fantastic and able to personalise everything to my business. I left the session feeling I had learnt loads, and now I can’t wait to start putting it into practice.”