Discovery inks deal with U.K.’s BT Vision

Payweb ups ante in rivalry with BSkyB, Virgin

LONDON — Discovery Networks has inked a distribution pact with U.K. payweb BT Vision, which earlier this year surprised rivals by successfully bidding for a share of live Premier League soccer rights.

Move means that BT Vision subscribers will “shortly” have access to the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Real Time webs. The agreement also includes VOD material from Discovery.

BT Vision CEO Marc Watson said: “The new channels are a great addition to our line-up…It will offer BT Vision viewers some of the most well-known and popular factual programs in the U.K.”

No financial details were disclosed.

The Discovery channels will join other linear webs on BT Vision such as British Eurosport, FX, National Geographic and National Geographic Wild, and UKTV’s Gold, Watch and Alibi.

BT Vision has been very much the Cinderella brand in the U.K. pay TV market, but following its successful soccer bid in June the paybox could eventually become a threat to satcaster BSkyB and cable operator Virgin Media.

BT won the rights for 32 Premier League games per season for three years from 2012/13. The telecoms giant, which has deep pockets, paid a massive £738 million ($1.16 billion) for the package. It is planning to launch a sports channel next year to showcase the soccer.