Sky take glamour ties as BT outgunned in opening skirmishes
SKY Sports are in no mood to let BT Sport settle into the Premier League broadcasting battle this season.
With the announcement of yesterday's first set of televised fixtures, Sky have powerfully asserted themselves over the first weeks of the campaign. They are covering the prime sun loungers with their branded towels while, for now at least, BT are consigned to the shade.
There will be four live games on Sky Sports on the first weekend and they include what they believe to be the "three biggest stories" of the new season – managerial changes at Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea.
They begin, on the evening of Saturday, August 17, with United's trip to Swansea City. The next day, after Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur, they have Jose Mourinho's celebrated return, at home against Hull City. Then, on the Monday night it is Manuel Pellegrini's debut, at home against Newcastle United.
This is the pattern through the first few weeks, as Sky hoard all the biggest and best games for themselves. They have Manchester United v Chelsea, in the second Monday Night Football of the season. They have the first Liverpool v Manchester United game and the first north London derby later that same Sunday afternoon.
The Manchester derby comes in September, Chelsea v City in October and there is a big November, too – Arsenal v Liverpool, United v Arsenal and City v Spurs.
BT do not have quite the same firepower, even after spending £738m on a three-year deal with 38 games this season. Most of their matches involve one big team and one lesser side. Tottenham v Chelsea in September and the Merseyside derby in November are BT's best.
It is such an imbalanced beginning that it looks like a concerted plan, as if Sky Sports were determined to go all-in at the start. BT certainly hope this is the case, insisting they have kept their powder dry, that they have more first-choice picks left in the second half of the season. BT could never out-punch Sky Sports but they might hope to out-manoeuvre them.
Sky, though, are confident that they will still be in a strong position for the second half of the season. There are 20 weekend rounds of fixtures left after this first set, and they have 12 first-round picks, having used just eight so far. In the PR battle, Sky's boldest move so far has been to make their schedule free on the first day of the season. (© Independent News Service)
Early Premier League TV Schedule
Sat Aug 17: Swansea v Man Utd, 5.30
Sun, Aug 18: Crystal Palace v Tottenham, 1.30, Chelsea v Hull, 4.0
Mon, Aug 19: Man City v Newcastle, 8.0
Mon, Aug 26: Man Utd v Chelsea 8.0
Sun, Sept 1: Liverpool v Man Utd, 1.30, Arsenal v Tottenham, 4.0
Sat, Sept 21: Chelsea v Fulham, 5.30
Sun, Sept 22: Man City v Man United, 1.30
Sat, Aug 17: Liverpool v Stoke, 12.45
Sat, Aug 24: Fulham v Arsenal, 12.45
Sat, Aug 31: Man City v Hull City, 12.45
Sat, Sept 14: Man U v C Palace, 12.45
Sat, Sept 21: Norwich v Aston Villa, 12.45