Sunset+Vine wins BT contract to produce Premier League coverage

Company behind Channel 4’s Paralympics coverage will also produce Premiership rugby union for TV as part of £100m deal

BT has awarded the £100m-plus contract to produce its live coverage of Premier League football and Premiership rugby union matches to Sunset+Vine, the independent producer behind Channel 4’s successful London 2012 Paralympics coverage.

Finalising the production contract, which will see Jake Humphrey front broadcasts from the International Broadcast Centre in the Olympic Park in Stratford, London, is a critical step in BT’s plan to challenge BSkyB’s dominance of UK pay-TV sport.

The contract, which ITV Studios considered bidding for in the early stage of the pitch process, but then pulled out of, is thought to be worth between £100m and £132m over three years.

Sunset+Vine, which is owned by Welsh independent producer Tinopolis, makers of Question Time, produces sports output, including ESPN’s Premiership Rugby, and won plaudits for its Channel 4 Paralympics programming and earlier for its coverage for the same broadcaster of England’s home cricket Test matches between 1999 and 2005.

“Live football and rugby coverage have been a major part of our recent output and we can now put our creative talents into delivering top class and innovative coverage for BT Sports major rights acquisitions,” said Jeff Foulser, chairman of Sunset+Vine.

BT, which owns the BT Vision broadband TV service, paid £738m for the live TV rights for 38 Premier League games per season over three years from 2012/13.

The telecoms company has also signed a £152m deal for the right to broadcast four seasons of Premiership Rugby from 2013/14.

“We have chosen Sunset+Vine as our lead preferred partner on the basis of its creative approach and the quality of the team they have lined up to work on the programming,” said Simon Green, head of BT Sport.

BT said that it intends to work with other production company partners across other sports programming deals it seals before the launch of two pay-TV channels next summer.

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