Sky has announced the introduction of Sky Sports 5, a new channel that is dedicated to football from across Europe.
The latest addition to the firm's broadcast plans ensures viewers now have a lineup of seven sporting channels, although this is the first primarily dedicated to covering matches from La Liga, the Copa del Rey, Champions League and international qualifiers for Euro 2016.
Alongside this, fans of the Netherlands' Eredivisie will be pleased to see Sky has gained exclusive UK rights to the Dutch top division. An official release was made on the company's website:
Customers with Sky Sports will be able to receive the new channel - Sky Sports 5 - as part of their sports package, at no extra cost, and as a further bonus they can also get two years’ free Sky Broadband Unlimited. Sky Sports 5 will screen up to 600 live European football matches next season featuring some of the best players, the best teams and the best competitions.
Those who register for the new channel—whether through the red button, online or over the phone—are eligible to take advantage of Sky Broadband Unlimited for two years. Usually worth £7.50 each month, the offer may be an attempt to ensure customers remain committed to Sky ahead of the organisation losing its Champions League rights in 2015-16.
BT Sport recently won the rights to show European elite matches live in a deal worth £897 million across three years, reported by BBC Sport. This means weekly scheduling from Sky—which currently sees a number of live Champions League matches and catch-up shows air throughout game weeks—will no longer go ahead.
Although the statement suggests that "availability on other TV platforms will be confirmed closer to launch," Virgin Media have jumped ahead of the game:
Just to confirm, that's Sky Sports 5 in HD on its way to Virgin Media this summer. Happy days.— Virgin Media (@virginmedia) June 10, 2014
Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, believes the channel takes "live football coverage to the next level," saying it is the "ultimate package for sports fans," per Sky's release. David Beckham, ambassador for the company, added, "Sky Sports 5 will offer all the drama and excitement that European football has to offer and I’ll certainly be gripped."
A greater array of football will certainly be welcomed by UK fans, especially considering Sky Sports 5 is free, but those looking into adding the broadband offer may wish to do their research before signing a 24-month contract. Although BT Sport's channels can be viewed on Sky's platform, both packages are available at additional costs.
The removal of Champions League programming from Sky's schedule is sure to make plenty of users consider their ongoing commitment to the organisation's sporting package. Sky Sports 5 boosts the company's offering, providing a greater amount of continental football in one place.