|Launched||25 March 1990|
|Picture format||576i (SDTV 16:9, 4:3),
|Audience share||1.8% (1)
(June 2009, BARB)
|Formerly called||The Sports Channel (1990-1991)|
|Freeview||Channel 83 (Sky Sports News)|
|Sky Digital||Channels 401-405, 408-409, 418|
|Virgin Media||Channels 511-513, 516|
(ex NTL Ireland)
|Channels 402-405 and 408|
(ex Chorus Digital)
|TalkTalk TV||Channels 551-554|
Sky Sports is the brand name for a group of sports-oriented television channels operated by the UK and Ireland's main satellite pay-TV company, British Sky Broadcasting. Sky Sports is the dominant subscription television sports brand in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It has played a major role in the increased commercialisation of British sport since 1990, sometimes playing a large role in inducing organisational changes in the sports it broadcasts, most notably when it encouraged the Premier League to break away from the Football League in 1992.
Sky Sports 1, 2, 3, and 4 are available as a premium package on top of the basic Sky package. These channels are also available as premium on nearly every satellite, cable and IPTV broadcasting system in the UK and Ireland. Unlike the other channels, Sky Sports News is provided as part of basic packages and also broadcasts on Freeview. Sky Sports is perhaps best known for its Premier League football coverage.
Sky Sports originally began broadcasting of sports events as The Sports Channel in March 1990, as part of the British Satellite Broadcasting service on cable, becoming available on the Marcopolo satellite the following month. Sky Television did not originally launch with a sports channel of their own - though sports programmes were occasionally broadcast on Sky Channel - but instead chose to invest in Eurosport instead, which was marketed as one of Sky's four channels upon its launch on 5 February 1989.
On 2 November 1990, British Satellite Broadcasting and Sky Television announced that they would be merging. At first the Sports Channel gained a "British Sky Broadcasting" suffix on its logo, however from 20 April 1991 - when the channel debuted on the SES Astra 1B satellite - it was rebranded as Sky Sports. Sky and Eurosport discontinued their partnership upon the launch of Sky Sports, even though Eurosport continued to be available on the Astra platform.
The channel was sold as one of the major draws of the Sky system and from 1 September 1992 Sky Sports was sold as a subscription channel and encrypted using the VideoCrypt system. It was the second Sky channel to be encrypted (following Sky Movies in 1990). It initially aired sports such as rugby and golf in 1990, before acquiring rights to German and Italian league football in 1990.
However, it was following the formation of the Premier League for the 1992/93 football season, believed to have been assisted by the promise of higher TV payments, that Sky Sports became well known. By bidding £302m, BSkyB beat the BBC and ITV to acquire the live and exclusive Premier League football broadcasting rights for the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland for a five-year period. In doing so, they had taken live top-flight English league football from terrestrial and free-to-air television for the first time in its history.
Sky launched its second sport-dedicated channel, Sky Sports 2 in August 1994, four years after the original channel launched on the Marcopolo satellite on BSB. Sky Sports Gold, a channel dedicated to classic sport, in a similar vein to ESPN Classic, launched on 1 November 1995 and ended as a separate channel by 1997 but only really petered out (as a filler slot on the other Sky Sports channels) by 2001. At the start of the 1996-97 season Sky Sports 3 was launched. The launch promotion involved many top sporting figures such as Dennis Bergkamp and Ryan Giggs to help the launch of the channel. Sky Sports had also acquired the rights to Scottish football and the Coca-Cola Cup.
October 1998 saw BSkyB launch Sky Digital from a new satellite, Astra 2A at 28.2° east. The move to Sky Digital saw the launch of two new sports channels in quick succession. First Sky Sports News, a 24-hour rolling sports news channel launched. This was followed by Sky Sports Xtra, in March 1999. The channel was initially available exclusively on Sky Digital. However, by summer 2003, the channel had launched on Virgin Media.
On 22 August 1999, Sky utilised a feature of, the then new, Sky Digital system to allow an interactive football match to be shown. Viewers were given the ability to choose the things such as which camera they viewed during the Arsenal vs. Manchester United. The concept proved popular and soon Sky used the new interactive service, known as Sky Sports Active, for other sports.
Around 2001, a cross-branding deal ensured that a quiz under the name of the Championship Manager series would be produced with the Sky Sports name on it. Kirsty Gallacher was the host of the PlayStation 2 quiz.
In 2004, Sky signed an exclusive deal to broadcast live English cricket matches for four seasons from 2006 to 2009 for a fee of £55 million a year. As with other of their exclusive deals this has caused some controversy, as the matches would no longer be available on terrestrial TV. Sky also signed an exclusive deal with the BCCI to televise the tour of India.
Following its earlier collapse, Sky purchased the majority of Channel 4's stake in horse racing channel, At the Races (the remainder of the stake went to Arena Leisure, the other partner in the channel and owner of Ascot Racecourse). At The Races was insolvent, and despite being promoted as part of the Sky Sports line up, had failed to turn a profit. It remains a provider of live coverage to betting shops, however.
Prior to the start of the 2004-05 season, Football First, an interactive football programme was launched. The show typically airs at 8.25pm and replays full coverage of the day's featured Premier League match, followed through the night by highlights from every Premier League match played on the day, which gives the viewer a choice to see a match of their choice. Sky Sports won the rights to air 'near-live' coverage of the Barclays Premier League, permitting Football First to air for another three years.
In 2007 a rival pay television operator, the Irish network Setanta Sports, acquired a share in the British rights to live Premier League matches, breaking Sky's long-standing monopoly. Setanta bought up various other rights such as PGA Tour golf and some top boxing matches, giving Sky a significant rival in the pay television sports market for the first time, but Sky remained the market leader by a wide margin. In June 2009 Setanta's UK operations went into administration and ceased broadcasting.
Sky Sports 4 is the fourth Sports Channel launched by Sky Sports. It airs repeats and live events of many Sky Sports programmes, such as La Liga. The channel launched in April 1999, and is a free bonus channel for those who subscribed to both Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2. The channel was originally launched as Sky Sports Extra but later rebranded to Sky Sports Xtra. The name Extra rather than Sky Sports 4 was chosen as the original intention of the channel was to simulcast sporting events showing on the main channels with the addition of interactive services.
More recently the channel has stopped simulcasting, and the interactive services have moved to the main Sky Sports channels. Sky Sports 4 now shows live and recorded sports events, and is in an effect a fourth main Sky Sports channel.
On 6 January 2010, Sky Sports Xtra was renamed as Sky Sports 4. Sky Sports HD 4 will launch sometime in 2010.
Sky Sports HD launched on 22 May 2006, and currently airs live Cricket, Premier League and Football League as well as Guinness Premiership and Super League Rugby. The 2008 Ryder Cup was also screened in HD.
In July 2006 Sky Sports HD2 launched on Sky Digital channel 409, at the same time Sky Sports HD1 moved to channel 408, with Sky Sports News switching to channel 405. There was also an HD version of PremPlus, called PremPlus HD, which broadcast on Sky channel 483 until the football session ended. It was briefly branded Sky Sports HDX and used to broadcast other Sky Sports content in HD, before it ceased broadcasting.
HD broadcasts of rugby league's Super League began from the start of the 2008 season in February 2008. Super Bowl XLI marked the first NFL broadcast in HD in the UK; additional NFL games in HD have since been phased in. Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, Thanksgiving Classic and the NFL Playoffs were shown in HD from 2008. 
Sky Sports HD3 launched on 17 March 2008, to coincide with World Wrestling Entertainment's first UK HD broadcast. The new channel will broadcast European Tour Golf in HD (along with any other golf Sky have the rights to).
Sky Sports HD4 will launch on 29 April 2010.
Sky Sports News is a 24-hour sports news channel operated by Sky Sports. Sky Sports News launched on the 1 October 1998, with Sky Digital becoming BSkyB's first digital only channel. On 10 April 2000, Sky Sports News relaunched as Sky Sports.com TV, a move to bring it tie in to the launch of the skysports.com website. However, the name was soon reverted back to Sky Sports News.
The channel replaced Sky Sports Centre, a news show at 6pm, devoted to the key events in the sporting world. The show famously broke the news that Kevin Keegan would resign as Newcastle United boss, with immediate effect.
On 5 August 2007 the channel was "refreshed" in line with the Sky Sports new look.
At The Races was originally founded by the Go Racing consortium, a partnership of Channel 4, British Sky Broadcasting, and Arena Leisure plc (owner of Ascot Racecourse, and acting on behalf of a further 27 out of the 59 UK racecourses) in July 2004. Following its high profile collapse (and Channel 4 removing itself from the consortium) the station - now purely a joint venture between BSkyB and Arena Leisure - focuses on horse racing from the UK, Ireland, North America and Germany, showing many live races and related shows. The station is "affiliated" with various betting companies, since gamblers are generally the sports main audience, and its pictures, provided by satellite link provider SIS, are also commercially distributed to betting shops across the country.
PremPlus was a pay-per-view channel dedicated to airing live Premier League Football. PremPlus launched on 18 August 2001, showing 40 pay-per-view matches from the English Premier League. The main presenter on PremPlus was Marcus Buckland with former Arsenal manager George Graham providing punditry.
The channel was called Premiership Plus from 2001 to 2004, before being shortened to the later PremPlus for the beginning of the 2004-05 season.
PremPlus closed down after the last match of the 2006-07 season after Setanta Sports obtained a third of the Premier League rights for 2007-10. This left Sky with only 92 live matches, meaning a Pay-Per-View service was unsustainable.
Sky own exclusive UK and Ireland, or UK-only exclusivity rights to a number of sports, most notably the ones listed below. They also transmit a large range of other sports.
Sky Sports signed an exclusive deal with Ford in 2001
Live Premier League coverage has been a critical factor of the success of not only Sky Sports, but BSkyB as a whole. The foundations of Sky Sports have been built on the coverage and allowed a dramatic growth in the number of subscribers in homes as well as pubs.
Sky has had rights to the Premier League since 1992 when the Division One clubs broke off from the Football League to form the Premier League. Sky had beaten both BBC and ITV for the rights to show the live matches in a 304 million pound deal, a prize just unthinkable at the time, from 1992 to now, Sky Sports covered more than 1200 Premier League matches live, and with the 2010-13 deal, it promises a total of 345 matches over 3 years, which under 60 over two deals, 92-96,96-01, 66 in 01-04, 88 in 04-07, and 92 in the 07-10 seasons deal, brings the total of live Premier League matches on Sky Sports over the 21-Year period, to 1623 matches. The first live Premier League game televised was Nottingham Forest's 1-0 win over Liverpool in August 1992. The millions and then billions of pounds which Sky has brought into the game has changed English football almost beyond recognition . Sky Sports have introduced many new features into coverage of the game since 1992 including the initially-controversial permanent digital on-screen graphic scoreboard, an idea that was subsequently copied by American sports (now known as a score bug) and by other British sport producers.
BSkyB's relationship with the FA Premier League had caused a stir with the EU, which eventually intervened and ended Sky's 13-year monopoly of live broadcasting rights. BSkyB's current deal allowed the company to win four of the six tiered live rights packages and left the BBC with the two highlights packages. These events left the European Com 'unhappy' and representatives of the Commission expressed views that the league had a lot of 'serious questions' to answer.
The deal was reviewed by the Commission, who came to the conclusion that they would threaten to take legal action against the Premier League if it failed to agree new arrangements giving other broadcasters a share of live TV coverage of matches. The EU believed that it would give 'better choice and value' for viewers.
Following the agreement, rival bids were launched. NTL and Sir Richard Branson's Virgin, ITV and Channel 4 were some of the big names that launched their own bids. Irish broadcaster Setanta Sports also declared that it would make a bid, depending on the overall concepts in the 'bidding wars'.
Sky Sports won the rights to four out of the six available live rights packages for the 2007/08 season and beyond, with another Pay TV company, Setanta Sports winning the remaining two. Despite losing two of the packages, the broadcaster will show even more live matches from the 2007/08 season, making better use of the matches available to it. Sky Sports' flagship football show, Super Sunday is not affected by the loss of packages, but Sky Sports closed its PPV channel PremPlus at the end of the 2006-07 season.
In 2009, it was announced that Sky Sports had won back one of the packages it had originally lost to Setanta in the last bidding process. From 2010/11 season, Sky Sports will show 115 live games a season in a 3-year deal, which will bring back Monday night matches. The only remaining package will belong to ESPN and those games likely to be the 5:15/5:30 slot on Saturday evenings.
The four main commentators are Martin Tyler, Rob Hawthorne, Alan Parry, and Ian Darke. These commentators will work along Andy Gray for Saturday and Sunday matches. If there are two matches on Sunday live Gray will cover the more high-profile match with Alan Smith, the ex-Arsenal player, covering the other match. The current ordering of the commentators usually has Alan Parry work most Saturday lunch time Premier League games, Bill Leslie cover the evening Championship or Football League game, Rob Hawthorne take the first of the two Super Sunday games and Martin Tyler on the 4:00pm kick off. The changes to the usual order of commentators gives Ian Darke a game to commentate on, although he usually works on the Boxing for Sky Sports.
Regular pundits in the Sky Sport's studio on live games include Jamie Redknapp, Dion Dublin, Graeme Souness, Andy Gray, Glen Hoddle, Alan Smith and David Platt. Richard Keys has presented most of the Premier League games on Sky Sports, with Jeff Stelling and Ian Payne covering the rest, usually when games are live side by side or previously Monday Night Football and Saturday Football.
One of the main shows where viewers get their say is You're on Sky Sports hosted by Geoff Shreeves and Chloe Everton.
Jeff Stelling presents Gillette Soccer Saturday each Saturday, usually starting from 12:00 until 18:00. The show consists of four studio 'experts' giving their views on upcoming Premier League and Football League games until 15:00, then when the games kick off, Jeff heads to reporters around the country to keep up to date on all the days games. The regular four in the studio is (in order of seating arrangement, starting with closest to Jeff Stelling) Matt Le Tissier, Paul Merson, Phil Thompson and Charlie Nicholas. Chris Kamara is also a regular reporter but at one of the stadiums he is reporting on.
In 1996, Sky Sports bought rights to the Football League and the Coca-Cola Cup in a five-year deal with the Football League. Sky showed 36 First Division matches every season, along with 12 matches for both Second Division, and Third Division. Sky also became the first ever pay-TV broadcaster to show the whole League Cup, including the final at Wembley exclusively live, but in 2001 the On Digital free terrestrial platform won the rights to the Football League, in a three-year deal, but in the spring of 2002, the company, now known as ITV Digital went bust, and Sky bought back the rights. The contract, worth around £250 million, ran until 2007. Sky has since twice renewed its contract. Bill Leslie and Ian Darke are the lead match commentators. The co-commentator is usually Garry Birtles or Don Goodman.
Sky has also screened live matches from the Nationwide Conference, the top tier of Non League Football, in some seasons. From 2007/08 season however Setanta Sports won comprehensive live broadcast rights for the Conference, now renamed the Blue Square Premier.
In 2003, BSkyB won joint UK rights to coverage of the UEFA Champions League with ITV, who had previously held exclusive rights with all matches shown on their channels only. Irish rights are currently held jointly by RTÉ and Setanta Ireland, although matches broadcast on the Sky platform are available to Irish digital subscribers due to 'spill over'. Mark Pearman, a former Sky Sports Executive Producer and then Managing Director of Opta Index, returned to produce Sky's coverage. Richard Keys and Clare Tomlinson presented the first UEFA Champions League programme. ITV got first choice of 2 matches on Tuesdays, with Sky taking the remaining six (with coverage of any Scottish teams' games being shared with STV) and all eight matches on a Wednesday. Matches that are not shown on one of the Sky Sports channels are usually available through the interactive service. In 2005, Sky Sports and ITV renewed their Champions League contract up until 2009. Sky Sports recently extended their Champions League contract till 2012. From the beginning of the 2009-10 season, Sky's coverage of the competition will grow dramatically, including automatic rights to qualifying games (previously these were sold on an individual basis in auctions). They will show all games on a Tuesday, plus all bar one game on Wednesdays until the Final. ITV will have first choice of Wednesday games, and shared coverage of the final (played on a Saturday for the first time this year)..
In the 2009/10 season, Sky assigned each of its main commentators to one of the British representatives. Martin Tyler works the Manchester United games, Rob Hawthorne works the Chelsea games, Alan Parry on Arsenal, Ian Darke on Liverpool and Bill Leslie worked on Rangers. An exception of this was when Ian Darke missed a Liverpool game (away to Lyon) due to commentating on Boxing on the Weekend following. Sky employed a similar format the season previous. The difference being Bill Leslie covered Celtic instead of Rangers who were instead entered in the tournament, and Rangers eliminated in the qualifiers. The other change was, Rob Hawthorne covered Liverpool in the group stages, Alan Parry on Chelsea and Ian Darke covered Arsenal. After the group stages, they all switched to the teams they commentate for now. When Manchester United met Arsenal in the semi-finals of the competition, Martin Tyler covered both games, and the final in which Manchester United were present, in their loss to Barcelona. Up until these games, Alan Parry had commentated on Arsenal and in the past, Sky had the commentator assigned to the team, cover the game in which their team was at home. As of yet, it is unknown if Ian Darke will now cover a different team following Liverpool's elimination.
In one of Sky's more surprising moves, Rob Hawthorne covered the 2005 Champions League finals (handing the FA Cup Final to Martin Tyler), alongside Andy Gray. Hawthorne was surprisingly dropped for many live games the following season, until Chelsea and Liverpool met in the Champions League group stage the following season. Many suspect Sky weren't pleased with Hawthorne's performance, and that he needed more time to capture the 'big game' feel in his commentary pieces. Since this, Martin Tyler has covered every final for Sky Sports, including this past seasons final between Barcelona and Manchester United. Each of which alongside Andy Gray.
In a joint deal with the BBC, Sky Sports secured the rights to the FA Cup in June 2000. Under the three-year deal, Sky won live and interactive coverage to the competition, which previously was occupied by ITV. The channel on the other hand, did not have the choice of first pick of games. ITV and Setanta Sports took over coverage in the 2008/09 season. Setanta have since collapsed and ITV currently air more of the available live games which two games per round, broadcast on the FA's official website. This is thought to be due to the lack of bids to take over Setanta's rights from the BBC, Five and Sky Sports, amongst others.
In the season 2010/11 onwards, ESPN will take over Setanta's coverage of the competition.
Currently, Sky Sports holds the rights to every home Live Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales International, whilst sharing coverage of away ties with the respective BBC Nations or, predominantly, Setanta Sports. Controversially, the Football Association of Ireland sold the rights to Republic of Ireland home competitive matches to Sky, a foreign broadcaster not available terrestrially in the state. EU legislation subsequently forced Sky and the FAI to allow the live broadcast of competitive games on a domestic terrestrial channel, currently RTÉ. Sky Sports have also shown some of England's home and away Internationals live in the past; ITV now hold those rights.
Sky Sports also show live matches from the Spanish La Liga on Saturday and Sunday nights. They also show a review show called Revista de La Liga on Tuesdays. The Spanish Football is fronted by Mark Bolton, along with Guillem Balague.
Sky Sports has signed a new deal for exclusive live coverage of La Liga for the next three seasons. The new deal for Spain's top league covers the 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons and Sky Sports will broadcast at least two live matches from each weekend of the season.
Sky was the first broadcaster to show live coverage of an overseas tour involving the England cricket team when England toured the West Indies in 1990. Since then Sky has acquired the rights to show home international series involving England, Australia, West Indies, India, South Africa, New Zealand and Bangladesh as well as showing every England overseas tour, ICC tournaments such as the Cricket World Cup, ICC Champions Trophy and ICC World Twenty20 as well as the Stanford Super Series in 2008. Sky also shows extensive coverage of county cricket, with over 60 live games each season involving every county in all competitions.
Sky Sports's flagship coverage of England home series began in 2006, when the ECB awarded Sky exclusive coverage of all of England's home tests, one-day internationals and Twenty20 Internationals including the 2009 Ashes. The ECB have since renewed Sky Sports's deal until 2013, meaning that the 2013 Ashes will also be shown exclusively on Sky Sports. Coverage is presented by David Gower. Gower is also part of an illustrious commentary team which includes 3 other former England captains in Nasser Hussain, Michael Atherton and Sir Ian Botham, along with the popular former England batsman and coach and first-class umpire David Lloyd and ex West Indian fast bowler Michael Holding. The team is completed by Nick Knight, or commentators from the touring side such as Rameez Raja (Pakistan), Ravi Shastri (India), Shaun Pollock (South Africa) and Australian legend Shane Warne during the 2009 Ashes. Highlights are broadcast in a prime time slot each evening, presented by Charles Colvile, alongside Bob Willis.
Coverage of county cricket is presented and commentated on by former Surrey and England batsman Ian Ward and Charles Colvile. In addition to the presenters and those commentators involved in the international coverage, Bob Willis, Paul Allott, David Houghton and Jeremy Coney commentate on county cricket along with special guests such as Glamorgan's former England offspinner Robert Croft, Surrey's director of cricket Chris Adams and former Gloucestershire player Ian Harvey.
Overseas series involving England are presented either from the ground by David Gower or from a London studio by Ian Ward or Charles Colvile. The commentary team is largely unchanged from that from that used for England home series. England's tour of the West Indies in 2009 was presented by Ian Ward (1st and 2nd Tests, ODIs) and Charles Colvile (3rd and 4th Tests, T20 International) alongside studio guests such as Bob Willis, Nick Knight, David Lloyd, Robert Croft, Alec Stewart, Angus Fraser and Graham Thorpe. The commentary team in the West Indies was David Gower, Sir Ian Botham, Michael Atherton, Nasser Hussain, Michael Holding, Tony Cozier and Ian Bishop for the tests with David Lloyd replacing Michael Atherton and Fazeer Mohammed replacing Michael Holding for the ODIs. For England's 2009/2010 tour of South Africa David Gower presented the coverage, and was joined on the commentary team for the test series Michael Atherton, Nasser Hussain, Sir Ian Botham, David Lloyd and Shaun Pollock. Nick Knight and Allan Donald were part of the team for the one-day internationals that preceded the tests.
Other international cricket is presented by Ian Ward, Charles Colvile, Mike Wedderburn, Paul Allott, Nick Knight and Jason de la Pena in the Sky Sports studio alongside pundits such as Ian Harvey, Jeremy Coney, Colin Croft, Robert Croft, Robert Key, Mark Butcher and Angus Fraser. Match coverage is taken from host broadcasters around the world such as Channel Nine in Australia, Sky TV in New Zealand, Supersport in South Africa and Nimbus in India. This ensures the voices of the likes of Tony Greig, Richie Benaud, Mark Nicholas, Ian Chappell, Simon Doull, Ian Smith, Robin Jackman, Pommie Mbangwa, Kepler Wessels, Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar are heard each winter on Sky.
The power of television over sport can perhaps be best portrayed by the change of rugby league from a winter sport to one played during the summer months under the banner of Super League. These changes caused great controversy when they were introduced in 1996, yet they have been seen by many as positive and as having an impact even greater than the broadcaster has had with football. The sport is now seen as being in a healthy state with two or three live matches from the Super League every week fronted by 'Eddie and Stevo' - Eddie Hemmings and former Great Britain World Cup winner Mike Stephenson - who are a rare example of a dual studio-presentation and commentary-box partnership in sports broadcasting. They are joined by Phil Clarke in both the studio and on commentary, Bill Arthur, the pitch-side reporter, and a guest (generally a coach or a former player). Barrie McDermott, Terry O'Connor, Brian Carney or Shaun McRae often occupy the guest position. Live Super League broadcasts routinely rank amongst the top 10 most watched programmes in a week on Sky Sports regularly. Sky has sold rights to a highlights package of the Super League to BBC Sport.
Sky also hold the rights to show the Rugby League Four Nations live, whilst highlights are shown on BBC Sport. Sky also announced in 2007 that they had bought the rights to televise National League (now Championship) matches midweek, and they have screened one lower division match each week since that year. This coverage is presented by Bill Arthur alongside a combination of Clarke, McDermott, O'Connor and McRae, with Ben Proe providing pitch-side updates. Australia and New Zealand's National Rugby League (NRL) competition was shown until the 2005-06 season when Setanta Sports outbid Sky for the rights, despite the NRL being half owned by News Corp.
Sky Sports shows a weekly midweek rugby league magazine show, Boots 'N' All, during the season, along with a half hour summary of the weekend's Super League matches on Sky Sports News on a Sunday night. This is presented by Martin Offiah.
Sky began its live coverage of what is now known as the Guinness Premiership on the 10 September 1994 with the match between Bath Rugby and Bristol Rugby and continues to do so by showing one live match, usually on a Saturday, every week. Sky Sports currently shows 33 live games a season, and will do so until the end of the 2009/10 season. A deal with Premier Rugby means that from 2010, Sky Sports will share live rights with ESPN and will show 26 live games a season (including one Premiership Semi-Final) until the end of the 2012/13 season..
In 2003, it began its coverage of the Heineken Cup, outbidding previous rights holder BBC Sport with its offer of £20 million for 3 years., showing usually 6 matches each pool weekend as well as all knockout matches. For the first time in 2006, Sky Sports will hold exclusive rights to live Heineken Cup rugby in the UK and ROI, with RTÉ only able to show tape-delayed coverage and S4C able to show only highlights. Sky Sports will start to broadcast games from the European Challenge Cup from the season 2007/08, with one game every week.
In 2008, Sky Sports extended their already long-term deal with the RFU to continue showing England Internationals (outside of the Six Nations) exclusively live up until the end of the 2014-15 season, including their autumn test matches at Twickenham and their summer internationals overseas. The new deal begins in 2010, and they will have the rights to show live coverage of the Anglo-Welsh Cup as well as new proposed competitions from the RFU.
Sky Sports has also had exclusive UK rights for live coverage of the last three British and Irish Lions tours. This is partly because of Sky's links with News Corporation television channels in the southern hemisphere. Sky's links with News Corporation, also allows them to show live matches from the Super 14 competition.
Sky Sports rugby coverage is presented by Simon Lazenby and Dewi Morris, with commentary for internationals and Guinness Premiership from Miles Harrison and Stuart Barnes. Sky will often take the host broadcasters commentary for Super 14 and Tri-Nations, with commentators including Hugh Bladen, Murray Mexted and Tony Johnson (Sky in NZ). The feed from Fox Sports in Australia usually involves Phil Kearns, Greg Martin and Greg Clark.
Golf is one of the most broadcast sports across the Sky Sports channels, with at least one tournament shown live in 50 weeks of the year. Sky has one of the most respected and experienced golf broadcasting teams in the UK, with its major event coverage fronted by David Livingstone, expert analysis from Butch Harmon, on course commentary from Howard Clark and main commentary from Ewen Murray and Bruce Critchley. Other golfers such as Peter Oosterhuis, Tony Johnstone, Thomas Bjorn, David Howell, Richard Boxall, Jamie Spence, Mark Roe, Robert Lee, Ross McFarlane, Sandy Lyle, Colin Montgomerie, Philip Parkin and Ken Brown contributing to their coverage over the years.
Sky Sports has exclusive UK rights for live coverage of two major championships, the US Open in June (until 2014) and the US PGA Championship in August (until 2016). Sky also broadcasts major championships from the women's tour and senior tour, including the Kraft Nabisco Championship, US Women's Open, Senior PGA Championship, Senior Open Championship and US Senior Open.
Since their inception in 1999 Sky Sports has broadcast the World Golf Championships exclusively Live as part of its contract with the European Tour, with the exception of the 2001 American Express Championship, which was broadcast on BBC. They usually present the broadcast on site, as they do for major championships and the Ryder Cup, reflecting their importance in the game as the next most important series of events after the majors.
They also have exclusive live UK rights to broadcast the PGA Tour (until 2017) including the Players Championship and PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup. Sky were the exclusive UK broadcasters of the PGA Tour from 1993 to 2006 until Setanta Sports bought the rights in 2007, the Irish subscription network went into administration mid way through the 2009 season and the rights for the remainder of the season were awarded to Eurosport.
At least 32 events on the European Tour (until 2012) including the Dubai World Championship. Since 2009 Sky Sports and BBC has shared live coverage of the BMW PGA Championship and Barclays Scottish Open, with Sky broadcasting live coverage of Thursday and Friday and BBC screening the weekend action.
Sky Sports has taken broadcasting of golf to a new level with its coverage of the sports premier event, the Ryder Cup. Since 1995 Sky has held the exclusive live UK rights to the biennial team event between USA and Europe, broadcasting the event in its entirety for the first time at Oak Hill in 1995. The event was broadcast in High Definition for the first time in 2006 at the K Club in Republic of Ireland. Since 1999 it has also offered interactive coverage with options including the American coverage, Highlights and course guides. Sky currently holds the rights until 2012, with BBC broadcasting evening highlights.
In 2010 Sky Sports will broadcast in excess of 150 tournaments from the men's and women's tours.
Since the creation of the World Darts Council in 1992, since renamed the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC), formed when many of the leading darts players, including Phil Taylor, Eric Bristow, John Lowe and Dennis Priestley, broke away from the British Darts Organisation (BDO), the games then sole ruling body, Sky Sports has broadcast the new organisations main darts tournaments live, which currently includes the following:
Following the departure of Frank Warren's Sports Network to ITV during 2005, many of the top British boxers no longer fight on Sky. However, many top American fights are still broadcast as well as the remainder of Britain's top fighters including Ricky Hatton. Some of the channel's top fights are shown on the Pay-Per-View channel Sky Box Office instead of Sky Sports. Presenters and commentators for Sky Sports' coverage include Dave Clark, Wayne McCullough and Johnny Nelson.
In 1989, Sky Sports acquired the rights to WWF Wrestling (now World Wrestling Entertainment or WWE), from America. Sky Sports 3 is considered the home of WWE programming on Sky, as the majority of the programs are shown on it.
Part of the current deal with Sky states that major PPV's such as WrestleMania, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble and Summerslam would be part of the Sky Box Office pay-per-view service, and that SmackDown!'s first broadcast would move from Sky One to Sky Sports. As part of the deal, RAW is now shown live on Sky Sports 3 early Tuesday morning because of the time difference. SmackDown! is broadcast in Britain before it is aired in America: on Friday nights. Sky Sports 1 shows 6 WWE PPV's live a year.
Sky also broadcasts WWE's third brand, Extreme Championship Wrestling. For a couple of months it replaced WWE Velocity on Sunday mornings. It is now shown two nights after the US broadcast after a viewer complained to Ofcom in August 2006 about an image in the opening credits, and Sky agreed to air the program after the watershed.
The deal of 14 Pay-Per-Views did not account for WWE's extra pay-per-views which have been added subsequently, and therefore WWE Cyber Sunday would not have been picked up by Sky. However, a last-minute deal was struck between Sky and WWE, that allowed the PPV to be shown live on Sky Sports 1.
The first WWE event to be shown in wide-screen (16:9) format on Sky Sports was No Way Out 2008 on Monday 18 February 2008 at 1am on Sky Sports 1. Although after this, other WWE programming were still in standard (4:3) format however due to complaints all WWE programming will now be airing in widescreen from a down-scaled HD feed.
On November 30 2009, Sky Sports announced they had signed up to a new five year deal with the WWE . The deal means This Week in WWE and WWE Superstars will make their UK television debut.
|All broadcast on Sky Sports unless stated|
|WWE After Burn|
|WWE Bottom Line|
|This Week in WWE|
|WWE Vintage Collection|
|The WWE Experience (on Sky1)|
|WWE Superstars (on Sky1)|
Sky Sports also broadcasts major motorsport events. This includes:
Sky Sports also broadcasts a variety of live NFL games and NFL Network programming. For the 2007 and 2008 seasons this comprises live coverage of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game and five other Preseason games, 125 Regular Season games, including Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football and NFL Network's Run to the Playoffs. The package also includes the NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl, plus the Pro Bowl. Sky shares coverage of the Sunday and Monday night games, as well as the playoffs, with terrestrial broadcasters Five and the BBC.
The complementary coverage from NFL Network includes:
The main studio presenters for Sky's live NFL coverage are Kevin Cadle and Nick Halling. Regular in-studio pundits include former Chicago Bears safety Shaun Gayle, former New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals tackle Ian Allen and NFL UK journalist Neil Reynolds.  Booth commentary is taken from the original U.S. feed.
For the 2009 season, however, Sky Sports reduced their weekly coverage of the sport. While they retained the playoffs, International Series Thanksgiving and NFL Network Thursday games, they reduced the weekly schedule. Unlike the previous two seasons, Sky does not show games on the red button at 6pm and 9pm. In addition they no longer broadcast Sunday Night Football (previously broadcast on both Sky and five, now five only) and Monday Night Football (with five and on Sky in HD, now unavailable on TV in both the UK and Ireland). This provoked a strong response from fans of the game in both countries, with heavy criticism from many fans for both Sky and NFLUK. However, the coverage is now in widescreen and occasionally in HD.
Sky Sports is a group of 10 channels - Sky Sports 1, Sky Sports 2, Sky Sports 3, Sky Sports 4, Sky Sports News, Sky Sports HD 1, Sky Sports HD 2, Sky Sports HD 3, Sky Sports HD 4, Sky Sports News HD and At the Races. The channels are owned by a major company named British Sky Broadcasting. It is the most powerful sports television company in the United Kingdom.
Sky Sports is known for its major football coverage and help launched the FA Premier League.
Sky Sports has a series of well known shows such as Soccer AM, which is a morning chat show with jokes, Gillette Soccer Saturday and You're on Sky Sports.
On August 22, 1999 Sky Sports launched Sky Sports Active. The first game was Arsenal vs Manchester United. It gave the viewer to focus on one player, or look at different camera angles. It soon proved to be successful, and Sky decided to continue it. It can be accessed by pressing the Red Button on your Sky Digital Remote.
On November 24, 2002, Sky Sports won the rights to air the UEFA Champions League, with ITV. They had beaten channels such as the BBC and Channel 4 to win it. Part of the deal had stated that ITV would air two games on a Tuesday and Sky Sports would air 2 games on a Wednesday. Sky soon launched an 8-screen 'Champions League Interactive' channel which showed 8 live games.