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BT nets NBA rights

UK telecoms giant BT will broadcast NBA basketball matches live on its TV channels from this weekend, strengthening its challenge to BSkyB in the battle to attract British sports fans.

The new multi-year agreement, financial terms of which were not disclosed, mean up to 200 games from America’s leading basketball league will be shown across BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN.

Live coverage begins on Sunday evening with a game between the Indiana Pacers and LA Clippers.

British NBA fans will also have access to selected games to be streamed for free on the BT Sport website and through its app.

The deal follows BT’s snatching of live Champions League Football rights from rival broadcaster Sky Sports earlier this month in an £897m (US$1.4bn) three-year deal.

That agreement came as a significant blow to Sky Sports as BT continues to try to muscle in on its dominance of the UK market.

BT is using sport to try to boost its triple-play customer base – subscribers taking phone, broadband and pay TV services from the same provider – and announced its arrival on the UK scene last year when it signed a three-year deal worth £246m a season to air English Premier League football.

The agreement gave BT 38 live games and included 18 ‘first picks’ that will enable it to show the best game of the weekend ahead of the league’s main broadcaster, Sky Sports.

BSkyB already shows American Football’s NFL, one of the other major US sports that has a big following in Europe, but NBA games are not currently shown in the UK.


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