While BT Sport had previously announced billing suspensions for its commercial customers throughout March and April, its latest statement pauses pub payments for the foreseeable future.
“In light of the continued uncertainty around Covid-19 and the specific challenges that this presents for our customers, we are extending the suspension of BT Sport billing until further notice,” a statement from the broadcaster explained. “Customers do not need to do anything, we will continue to monitor the situation and keep customers updated.”
The broadcaster, which retained exclusive UK rights to the UEFA Champions League and Europa League in November, shares broadcasting rights for the Premier League until the 2022-23 season with Sky Sports and newcomer Amazon – with 52 fixtures shown by BT, 20 by Amazon and 128 by Sky per campaign.
As reported by The Morning Advertiser (MA) on 17 March, fellow broadcaster Sky Sports announced that it would not be charging its pub customers until a live sport schedule returned.
“We understand that these are challenging times for many of our Sky Business venues, who rely on showing live sport in a social environment to attract customers and revenue,” Sky Business managing director Simon Raggett said.
“Supporting these businesses and doing what we can to help them in uncertain times is very important to us. We would like to reassure our Sky Business venues that, from 14 March, we will not be charging them for their Sky Sports service until a live sport schedule returns.”
At the time of writing, plans to resume the current Premier League season are being accelerated under what is being called ‘Project Restart’, with a number of clubs reopening their training grounds with league officials potentially aiming for an 8 June season resumption behind closed doors.
What’s more, while an abridged Formula One season is slated to get under way in Austria in early July, it’s been announced that the cricketing shutdown in England and Wales will remain until at least 1 July – meaning the postponement of England’s Test series against West Indies, plus uncertainty over the domestic Championship season, and the T20 and The Hundred competitions.
However, while a number of sports bodies are discussing competitions getting back under way after a global time-out for sporting competition, at the time of writing, a schedule for pubs in the UK to reopen has not yet been confirmed.
As reported by The Morning Advertiser, British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin stated that the pub sector needs notice of at least three weeks – but ideally four – to give operators sufficient time to reopen.