Millions of BT Sport customers face huge price hikes from August, including a £60/yr rise for those previously promised 'free' sport with their broadband. But you can beat it – we explain how.
In May 2013, BT screamed and shouted it would give 'free' BT Sport to anyone with one of its broadband and line rental packages. It's this group who will be hit by the £60/yr rise. Others who already pay for it will have to fork out more, but BT hasn't said by how much yet.
If you have BT broadband you may have activated BT Sport simply because it was 'free', so urgently check, even if you don't watch it now.
The rises will hit shortly before BT becomes the only UK broadcaster to show live Champions League football from next season, after paying almost £900m to nab the contract from Sky and ITV in a three-year deal.
What's happening and how can I beat the hike?
Who is affected?
- BT broadband customers, including those with Sky TV, with 'free' BT Sport will automatically be opted in to pay £5/month. This entitles them to the new BT Sport Pack, including BT Sport 1 & 2, BT Sport Europe and ESPN. The exception is those with who also have a BT TV (YouView) box. This group can avoid the rise if they sign up to a new 18mth broadband and TV contract.
- If you pay for BT Sport now, brace yourself for a rise. If you pay the standard £13.50/month for BT Sport (HD is £4 extra) or you've negotiated a different deal, BT says your price "will increase shortly", but it hasn't revealed the exact hit on your wallet yet.
How to beat the hike:
- Haggle to beat hammer prices down and keep your sport packages. The best prices are usually reserved for new customers, but if you're willing to haggle, you could beat the price hike, or at least get some money off. In our latest service provider haggle poll, 70% of BT customers polled said they had a success haggling, and we've heard of recent successes. Full details on how to haggle below.
- BT broadband customers with 'free' BT Sport can simply cancel the sport if they no longer want it. However, the rise is also a good opportunity to haggle anyway.
- Those with a broadband contract with 'free' BT Sport can downgrade their sports package. You could downgrade to BT's free "Lite" pack but it only includes BT Sport 1, which will still show 38 live Premier League football matches & 69 Aviva Premiership rugby matches, but not the previously 'free' FA Cup or Moto GP. It also won't include the Champions League. See the BT Sport website for a full breakdown of what it is showing.
Haggling inspiration and tips
Haggling can work, as these examples show:
- "I have just managed to get BT to reduce this charge to £1.85/month. I am happy with that." – 117pauline
- "Quick call and £5 off a month. I also ditched HD to save another £3 until the football returns." – Martin (not Martin Lewis!)
- "I called BT in Feb to ask for a better deal. I was paying £16.50/mth for BT Sport, and in a few seconds it reduced it to £11/mth." – MSE Guy.
Here are our top 13 tips to haggle with BT. For more, see our guide on how to haggle with Sky, the AA and more.
- Do a channel audit. Work out what you really watch and ditch the rest. There's no point in paying for access to channels you don't watch.
- Timing is crucial. Haggling works best when you're near or beyond the end of your contract. There's no harm in giving it a try when you're not, but diarise to call back when it's due to expire.
- Benchmark the best deal. It's important to have the factual arsenal. Research the deals, discounts and codes that BT and its competitors offer, note what you're paying now and after the hike (this should be in the letter that BT sends you about the increase).
The cheapest digital TV option is Freeview with the basic box starting from £10 and no monthly subscription. Here's what other providers are up to:
- Sky has 25% off all TV bundles and £75 bill credit. See Sky deal details.
- TalkTalk has a TV, broadband and home phone deal for £25.96/month (when you pay for line rental upfront). See TalkTalk deal details.
- Virgin is currently offering a TV, fibre broadband and home phone package for £30.77/month (when you pay for line rental upfront). See Virgin deal details.
See our Digital TV Deals guide for more best buys, and signing up to our weekly email to get the latest offers.
- Get through to the retention department. If you're coming to the end of your contract, or are out of it, you're wielding a powerhouse weapon: customer loyalty. Tell it you're going to leave. The customer service person should put you through to the 'customer retentions' department – aka the holy grail of haggling.
- Use charm, chutzpah, cheek and a smile. Aggression or anger will just put their back up. Aim for polite, firm and non-combative when asking for a discount. as they're within their rights to say no.
- Use the phrases that pay. You may find that your BT customer service rep will only offer a small discount at first, but if you don't agree with the price, use phrases such as:
- I've worked out my monthly budget, and my absolute max is £[insert price here]/month.
- [TalkTalk/Virgin/Sky] can do it for less...
- I need to think about it...
- I think my husband / wife will go bonkers if I pay that...
- It's still a lot of money...
- What's the very best you can do?
- Don't panic if they call your bluff and say they'll disconnect you. Martin's easy 'get out of jail free' card on this is: "Hold on, I'll call you back on that. I'd like to check with my wife/husband/dog/Aunt Fanny first."
- Problems mean discounts. If you've had issues with BT in the past – slow broadband, long customer call waiting times – politely tell them as it should want to try and make it up to you.
- Don't say yes to the first offer they give. Chances are, it's not the best deal they can do. Remember, be firm.
- Don't fill the silence. They may push you to agree because it's a 'limited-time offer', don't feel pressured into agreeing to the new price or deal unless you're certain. As negotiations come to a close, a classic salesman technique is to stay silent. They want you to feel awkward and fill the silence. Make them fill it with a cheaper offer.
- Ask if they can throw in extras. If it won't slash the price, see if they can include any extras, like free calls, extra channels, or even the new full BT Sports package for free.
- If you fail? Try, try and try again. While unconfirmed, we hear rumours that different staff members have quotas of how many deals they can do. Even if not true, it feels like that to many. So you may have called the wrong person at the wrong time. Calling back a few days later and speaking to someone else may pay dividends.
- Vote with your feet. If you don't get what you want then you should seriously consider leaving. Use our Digital TV deals guide to find the best deal for you.
BT Sport hike Q&A extra – what you want to know
We've included some extra points below to answer the key questions you've asked us on our forum and via social media.
Q. I've seen something about paying for a YouView box to avoid the hike. What's this?
A. If you're a BT broadband customer, you could pay a £35-£49 activation fee and nothing for a year (£4/month after) to get a YouView box, which comes with BT TV (incl 80 Freeview channels) and the full BT Sport pack.
Q. I'm an existing BT broadband customer. Can I still watch it on my TV?
A. Most people with BT Sport can watch it on their TV. If you can now, whatever package you go for, you will be able to after the hike. If you can only get it via an app now (essentially, for those without a digital TV service), you'll naturally only be able to watch it via the app after the rise.
Q. I'm an existing BT broadband customer but never got 'free' BT Sport. Can I still get the same deal as everyone else with BT broadband?
A. If you have BT broadband but haven't activated BT Sport, you'll need to enter into a new contract on your broadband to get BT Lite for 'free'. You could then pay £5/mth to upgrade, but we suggest you haggle first.
Q. Is anything changing for Virgin Media customers?
A. Not yet, because BT is still agreeing a deal with Virgin to include the full package. Watch this space.
Q. I'm in contract on my BT broadband. Does the hike mean I can cancel the broadband penalty-free?
A. In general, the answer is 'no', although it's worth noting a few people in the forum report that they have had some success.
When we first published this article we originally said you could cancel penalty-free, based on some unclear communication from BT's press office, but BT's legal team has now confirmed you can't leave BT broadband as a result of the BT Sport price change without paying a penalty.
Q. If I need to sign a new contract to get BT Sport, will I lose any current discounts?
A. Yes as you'll enter into a new contract so you'll get a different deal.
Q. Can I cancel BT Sport?
A. There's no separate contract for BT broadband customers who got 'free' BT Sport, so you can cancel the BT Sport element of your package if you don't want it or don't need it any more.
Q. I've been told I need to pay an additional £6.75/month, what's this about?
A. If you're a Sky TV with BT broadband customer and you're out of contract on your BT broadband contract, in order to get the full new sport pack, you'll need to pay an extra £6.75/month on top of the £5/month for BT Sport.
Q. I've just been downgraded to Sport Lite. I thought everyone gets upgraded to the full BT Sport Pack?
A. BT confirms it is aware that some customers do not watch BT Sport often so they will be put on BT Sport Lite, rather than being opted in to the £5/month full BT Sport Pack.
What does BT say?
John Petter, chief executive of BT consumer, says: "When we launched BT Sport we promised to make televised football far more accessible and affordable than it has been to date. We have opened the market to millions of new customers and we want to build on that as BT Sport becomes the undisputed home of European football.
"We are of course giving our best offer to existing customers – broadband customers will get the new BT Sport Pack for the heavily discounted price of £5 whilst customers who take broadband and TV from us will get it absolutely free."
Additional reporting by Nick Durrant.