BT puts women's sport centre stage as it takes on Sky Sports

Laura Robson and Heather Watson British women's tennis

In a bid to challenge Sky, broadcaster signs deal with Women's Tennis Association

LAST UPDATED AT 11:08 ON Fri 11 Jan 2013

BT IS GEARING UP for an assault on Sky's position as the country's main sports broadcaster as it prepares to launch two TV channels this summer, and coverage of women's sport is set to become a key plank in its strategy.

The telecom company has already spent nearly £750m to secure the rights to 38 Premier League football games a season from the start of the next campaign in August. It has also agreed a £150m club rugby deal and other sports are in its sights in what The Guardian describes as "a sustained attempt to challenge Sky".

The paper says that one of the deals BT has in the pipeline is with the Women's Tennis Association, and that the company is set to target women's sport. "The London Olympics was seen as something of a watershed in raising the profile of female athletes," says the Guardian. It also points out that the success of British tennis players Laura Robson and Heather Watson (pictured above) has also helped.

Simon Green, head of BT Sport, told the paper. "We see a genuine opportunity to really develop the exposure for women's sport with our new channels. We are focusing on several more women's sports and we hope to be able to announce more rights soon."

The Daily Telegraph reports that BT is also close to a deal with UK Athletics, which is without a headline sponsor since its contract with Aviva expired at the end of the year.

It is not clear, says the Telegraph, whether the deal is directly related to providing content for the new BT channels, though an association with UK Athletics "would clearly give the company access to some of the country's big-name athletes such as Olympic gold medallists Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford" and enable BT to capitalise on the huge exposure enjoyed by athletics during the London Games. · 

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