Sky Sports is a group of sports television channels operated by the satellitepay-TV company Sky plc. 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 1991, 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, 4 and 5 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. Sky Sports News HQ is provided as part of basic packages. Sky Sports is perhaps best known for its Premier League football coverage. The Sky Sports network is managed by Barney Francis.
At launch on 5 February 1989, Sky Television operated Eurosport as a 50/50 joint venture with the European Broadcasting Union. The channel was marketed as one of Sky's four channels upon its launch, although additional sports programmes such as long-running international cricket coverage was occasionally broadcast on Sky Channel.
However, the service had encountered a legal challenge from rival sports channel Screensport, a joint venture between WH Smith Television and America's ESPN network. Subtitled as 'The European Sports Network', the channel was also available on the Astra satellite and available to early Sky viewers. Screensport's contention was that the involvement of the EBU with Sky's Eurosport channel had the effect of restricting and distorting competition in the sports market.
The European Commission agreed, and the Eurosport joint venture ceased broadcasting in early 1991. Screensport's victory was to be short-lived, as Eurosport would within months return under new ownership, this time with French broadcaster TF1 in Sky's place as 50% shareholder, and Screensport would eventually merge with the revived Eurosport in March 1993.
Sky's involvement with sports broadcasting did not end with its exit from the Eurosport venture, since following the merger of Sky Television with British Satellite Broadcasting in November 1990, it had acquired the name and assets from BSB's service "The Sports Channel".
The Sports Channel was renamed Sky Sports on 20 April 1991, and began broadcasting to Sky viewers via the newly launched Astra 1B satellite on that date, alongside its existing transmissions on BSB's Marcopolo satellite.
The channel was sold as one of the major draws of the Sky system and initially aired sports such as rugby and golf in 1991, before acquiring rights to German and Italian league football in 1996 (both carried over from The Sports Channel).
The channel was initially encrypted but broadcast free-to-view, requiring an analogue VideoCrypt decoder, but no paid subscription, to be viewed. Since VideoCrypt decoders were only officially available within the UK, this measure was intended to prevent viewing of the service outside the UK and Ireland.
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 £304m, BSkyB beat the BBC and ITV to acquire the live and exclusive Premier Leaguefootball broadcasting rights for the United Kingdom and 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.
At this point, Sky Sports became a subscription channel, available with a monthly subscription on a standalone basis, or at a reduced price if taken with Sky's movie channels.
Sky launched its second sport-dedicated channel, Sky Sports 2 on 19 August 1994, three years after the original channel launched on the Marcopolo satellite on BSB. As a result, "Sky Sports" was renamed as "Sky Sports 1".
On 16 August 1996, 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 also acquired the rights to Scottish football and the Coca-Cola Cup.
Sky Sports 3 mainly broadcasts Tennis and American sporting events such as the NFL and WWE.
Sky Sports News HQ is a 24-hour sports news channel operated by Sky Sports. Sky Sports News launched on 1 October 1998, with Sky Digital becoming BSkyB's first digital only channel. On 10 April 2000, Sky Sports News relaunched as SkySports.com TV, a move to bring it tie into the launch of the SkySports.com website. However, the name was soon reverted to Sky Sports News.
The channel replaced Sky Sports Centre, a news show at 18:00, devoted to the key events in the sporting world.
On 5 August 2007, the channel was "refreshed" in line with the Sky Sports new look. The channel was again given a 'new look' on 23 August 2010 of its own accord, gaining a significant graphics overhaul and broadcast in widescreen and HD for the first time. The overhaul also coincided with the channel's upgrade to a 'Pay' channel, including its removal from Freeview.
It was rebranded as Sky Sports News HQ on 12 August 2014.
Sky Sports 4 (originally launched as Sky Sports Xtra) is the fourth Sports channel launched by Sky. 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 subscribe to both Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2. The name Xtra 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.
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 effect a fourth main Sky Sports channel. In light of this, on 6 January 2010, Sky Sports Xtra was renamed Sky Sports 4.
In 2011, Sky Sports Xtra returned as a subscriber-only video channel on SkySports.com.
On 10 June 2014, Sky announced that they would be launching Sky Sports 5. The channel will be the seventh Sky Sports channel to launch and will specialise in broadcasting European football, including UEFA European Championship qualifiers, La Liga and the Eredivisie. Sky Sports 5 appeared on the Sky EPG as channel 407 on 12 June 2014. Sky Sports 5 launched on 12 August 2014. The first match broadcast on the channel was the 2014 UEFA Super Cup.
Sky Sports F1 launched on 9 March 2012, providing Formula One coverage from March through to November. Every practice and qualifying session for each Grand Prix is shown live and every race is shown live without commercial interruption.
Sky Sports News Radio is a British online radio station broadcasting sports news, results and information 24 hours a day. It is a sister service to the television channel Sky Sports News HQ.
The station was launched in June 2010 and broadcasts online and via digital platforms from the Teamtalk studios in Leeds. It originally broadcast from 08:00 to 18:00 only, expanding to a full 24-hour schedule in August 2010 to coincide with the start of the 2010–11 football season. The station was initially only available to Sky Sports subscribers, but became free to all listeners when its sister TV channel was removed from Freeview. The station can also be listened to via the Sky Sports Apps and third party platforms such as TuneIn Radio and The Pure Lounge.
News reports are sourced from the Sky Sports News newsroom, Sky News Radio and information is shared with SkySports.com who are based in the same office. The station's managing editor is Mark Chesworth.
Sky occasionally gives one of their channels a temporary rebrand to coincide with a sports event. Examples of this include:
Sky Sports Ashes: To coincide with the 2013 Ashes series, Sky Sports 2 was renamed as Sky Sports Ashes on 30 June until 31 August 2013. As well as covering the Ashes, the dedicated cricket channel also featured the Women's Ashes, domestic cricket and various magazine and review shows. The practice was repeated for the 2015 Ashes series.
Sky Sports Ryder Cup: From 18 September to 2 October 2014, Sky rebranded Sky Sports 4 as Sky Sports Ryder Cup. The channel was dedicated to the coverage of the 2014 Ryder Cup, from Gleneagles.
Sky Sports Darts: Sky Sports 3 became Sky Sports Darts for the 2015 William Hill World Darts Championship at the Alexandra Palace on 18 December 2014 and was the home of darts till 5 January 2015. It returned on December 14, 2015 however, Sky Sports F1 was temporarily renamed Sky Sports Darts until 5 January 2016.
Sky Sports World Cup: From 14 February to 29 March 2015, Sky rebranded Sky Sports 2 as Sky Sports World Cup. The channel will be dedicated to the coverage of the 2015 Cricket World Cup, from Australia and New Zealand.
At the Races was originally founded by the Go Racing consortium, a partnership of Channel 4, BSkyB, 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 Premier League matches. 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.
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.
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 their other exclusive deals this caused some controversy, as the matches were no longer 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 chance 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.
Sky Sports also snapped up the rights for the A1 Grand Prix and has won the rights to Speedway, for the next five years. The channel also has the rights to American sports, including NFL and WWE.
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. On 22 June 2009, Setanta's British operations went into administration and ceased broadcasting, which saw ESPN enter the UK market.
Owing to an Ofcom review of premium services, Sky Sports 1 and 2 launched on digital terrestrial television through BT Vision on 1 August 2010 and Top Up TV the following day. This marked the first time Sky Sports premium channels have been shown via DTT since ITV Digital collapsed in May 2002. The channels were withdrawn from terrestrial television, in favour of BT Sport 1 and 2, at midnight on 1 July 2013.
On 28 April 2011, Sky Sports' interactive features were made available on Virgin Media, following Virgin's sale of Virgin Media Television to BSkyB.
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 a 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.
Due to an Ofcom review of premium services, Sky Sports HD1 and HD2 launched on the Virgin Media platform on 2 August 2010. This marked the first time that Sky's HD programming was shown via a rival service. Smallworld Cable added Sky Sports HD1 and HD2 in the first quarter of 2012. UPC Ireland added Sky Sports 1 HD and 2 HD along with Sky Sports News HD on 16 August 2012.
Sky Sports News HD launched on 23 August 2010. It was rebranded as Sky Sports News HQ HD on 12 August 2014 along with the standard channel.
On 1 March 2012, the HD channels were given a minor rebrand, with the 'HD' moving to the end of the channel names, for example Sky Sports 1 HD instead of Sky Sports HD1. Sky Sports F1 HD launched on 9 March 2012.
Sky Sports 2 HD was also rebranded to 'Sky Sports Ashes HD' in the same move used for the standard channel on 30 June until 31 August 2013. Sky Sports 4 HD will be also rebranded to 'Sky Sports Ryder Cup HD' in the same move used for the standard channel on 18 September 2014 until 2 October 2014.
Sky Sports 3 HD, Sky Sports 4 HD and Sky Sports F1 HD launched on Virgin Media on 15 July 2014. Sky Sports 5 HD launched on 12 August 2014 as well as being added on Virgin Media. However, Sky Sports News HQ HD is scheduled to be added, no launch is confirmed. Sky Sports 3, 4 and 5 HD are also scheduled to launch on UPC Ireland.
On 1 January 2015, Sky Sports News HQ HD, along with Sky News HD were added on Virgin.
On Sunday 31 January 2010, the Arsenal vs Manchester United game was shown in 3D in around 30 pubs around the UK. The special glasses were seen being tried by Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, and the commentators and the studio presenters mentioned of this being a world premiere live Sports 3D presentation several times.
It was widely reported that Sky used the West Ham United v Stoke City Premier League game on 31 August 2013 as an internal production test for broadcasting 4K / Ultra HD picture.
In the "Sky Views Blog", Barney Francis, Managing Director Sky Sports stated that, although it was only view internally, the test has been key in helping Sky evaluate whether it will start broadcasting in 4K.
"We saw enough in this test event to know that live sport in UHD has real potential. The broadcast also demonstrated the capability of our satellite platform, which is ideally placed to continue supporting high-bandwidth video."
"That said, we’ve still much more to learn, particularly about how to make full use of UHD from a live production perspective."
Sky owns 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. Some of the BSB's Sport Channel programming were The Football League, the US Open, and the American football from the NFL.
Many of the BSB Sport Channel's rights packages, such as those for the FA Cup, Wimbledon and Test cricket, were acquired in tandem with the BBC.
Sky share rights to the SPFL with BT Sport. Both broadcasters show 30 games per season, with Sky having first pick of matches. Sky also show up to nine live Scottish Cup matches per season and share the rights with BBC Scotland, who show 5–8 matches per season. The Scottish Cup final is simulcast on both Sky Sports and BBC One Scotland. Coverage is presented by David Tanner. Commentators and pundits include Ian Crocker, Andy Walker and Neil McCann.
Sky Sports also show live matches from La Liga, the top tier of Spanish football, on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights. Sky's La Liga deal is from the 2015/16 to the 2017/18 season and includes La Copa, the Spanish cup competition. Sky broadcast at eight matches from each weekend of the season (both live and as-live) and the commentators include Rob Palmer, Kevin Keatings, Gerry Armstrong and Terry Gibson. Highlights and weekly review of La Liga, are shown on Revista de La Liga, presented by the Spanish football expert Guillem Balagué.
Home Nations teams
Sky Sports holds the rights to every home and away match featuring Scotland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Wales and cover every other match in the European Qualifiers except the England match which is on ITV and one other qualifier per round which is on ITV4, under this Sky Sports have highlights of England matches. England Matches are commentated on by Martin Tyler & Alan Smith, Scotland by Ian Crocker & Davie Provan, Northern Ireland by Daniel Mann & Gerry Armstrong and Wales by Bill Leslie & Barry Horne.
Sky Sports additional football programming includes:
Sky Sports' first started broadcasting Home England Tests in 1999. In a joint deal with terrestrial broadcaster Channel 4, it began showing 1 home Test each summer plus one-day internationals (Channel 4 were the senior broadcast partner). This arrangement continued until 2006, when Sky Sports' flagship live coverage of England's home test series began. The previous year, it was announced by the ECB that it had 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 2017. The Fifth Test vs India at the Oval, (commencing 15 August 2014) was the 200th England Test shown live on Sky Sports. Coverage is presented by former England captain David Gower and an illustrious commentary team including former captains Nasser Hussain, Andrew Strauss, Michael Atherton and Sir Ian Botham, popular former England batsman and coach and first-class umpire David Lloyd, former West Indian fast bowler Michael Holding and Australian legend Shane Warne, who joined the team during the 2009 Ashes. The team is completed by Nick Knight, or commentators from the touring side such as former internationals Ricky Ponting (Australia), Rameez Raja (Pakistan), Ravi Shastri (India) and Shaun Pollock (South Africa). Highlights are broadcast in a prime time slot each evening, presented by Charles Colvile, alongside Bob Willis and another guest.
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 used for England home series.
In 2003, Sky Sports began its coverage of the Heineken Cup, when it outbid the previous rights holder BBC Sport with its offer of £20 million for 3 years. Coverage of 10 matches each pool weekend and all knockout matches from the Heineken Cup was the norm. Additionally, up to three matches per round in the Amlin Challenge Cup were usually shown. Following the demise of the Heineken Cup, Sky Sports will now share the rights to the newly formed Rugby Champions Cup with BT Sport, from the 2014-15 season. Both broadcasters will show 35 live matches each year and they will share live coverage of the final.
In 2014, 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 2019-20 season. This includes their autumn test matches at Twickenham and their annual Spring fixture. Furthermore, Sky broadcast live England Saxons, under 18, under 20 & England Women. As a part of the deal with the RFU, Sky also has the rights to broadcast games from the RFU Championship, including the 2 legged final for promotion to the Aviva Premiership.
Commencing from the 2014-15 season, Sky Sports began showing games from the Guinness Pro 12 (covering 30 matches alongside the current terrestrial broadcasters BBC Wales, S4C, TG4, BBC NI and BBC Alba). Furthermore, they broadcast two live matches each weekend from the Top 14. Sky's contract with SANZAR also allows them to show live matches from the Super Rugby competition.
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 BritainWorld Cup winner Mike Stephenson – who are a rare example of a dual studio-presentation and commentary-box partnership in sports broadcasting. Brian Carney Brian Carney and Jon Wells present parts of the pre-match build up and half time coverage. For the remaining pre-match coverage Eddie Hemmings is joined in the studio by two of Phil Clarke, Barrie McDermott, Terry O'Connor, Tony Rea, John Kear, Paul Cullen or Mike Stephenson . Eddie Hemmings, Phil Clarke and Stevo commentate on Super League matches, with an additional pundit (usually one of the above). Bill Arthur is the pitch-side reporter.
Live Super League broadcasts routinely rank amongst the top 10 most watched programmes in a week on Sky Sports.Sky has sold rights to a highlights package of the Super League to BBC Sport, who air The Super League Show on Sunday nights/Afternoon in Northern regions, with a nationwide replay on Monday afternoon.
Sky also held the rights to show the majority of the matches from the Four Nations and the previous competition the Tri Nations live, with the other games being shown live or in highlights form on BBC Sport. This agreement ended in 2012 and Sky Sports surprisingly lost the rights to International Rugby League from the 2013 Rugby League World Cup. The matches for the 2013 World Cup are being shared between the BBC and Premier Sports with BBC covering all England matches, Wales v Italy, One Quarter Final, One Semi-final and the Final. The BBC have also signed a deal to be the home of International Rugby League covering the 2014 and 2016 Four Nations and the next Rugby League World Cup. Beginning in 2012, the channel airs Challenge Cup matches alongside the BBC: usually, they will air one match in the fourth and fifth rounds and two of the quarter-finals with highlights of the Semi-Finals and Finals which are exclusively live on the BBC. Rod Studd and Bill Arthur are the main commentators for these matches, with Carney, Clarke, Jon Wells and Graham Beecroft as summarisers/reporters. Until 2012, Sky aired Championship and Northern Rail Cup games on Thursdays and Sundays, until the rights for these were purchased by Premier Sports. These rights will return to Sky from 2015.
They also broadcast a weekly midweek rugby league magazine show, Boots 'N' All, during the season; Super League's Super Men, an interview show with legends of the game hosted by Brian Carney and Sam Tomkins; the Sunday night roundup show Super League Full Time, and a half-hour summary of the weekend's Super League matches on Sky Sports News on Sundays presented by Martin Offiah. In addition, during the summer Super League Back Chat, usually a roundtable vodcast starring Stephenson, Studd and a rotating panel of rugby league journalists, is promoted to the regular TV schedule.
Coverage of the Australian National Rugby League Grand Final as well as the State of Origin series and the Anzac Test between Australia and New Zealand in May, returned to Sky Sports in 2010 on a two-year contract but have since ended and gone to Premier Sports who are the main broadcasters of the NRL.
In July 2011, Sky Sports acquired the rights to broadcast Formula One in the United Kingdom from 2012 until 2018. The deal included the rights to show all practice and qualifying sessions, in addition to the races. The broadcast rights are jointly held with Channel 4. The shared nature of the contract mean that Sky Sports F1 show 11 races exclusively live, with the remaining races being shown by both Sky and Channel 4 (who are televising the remaining races live and highlights of all races on a delayed basis). Whilst the announcement did prove controversial (with early promises that the races would be uninterrupted by commercials doing little to quell the negative initial reaction from many fans and observers ), in its first two years of broadcasting, the coverage has twice won F1 International Broadcaster of the Year from the FIA (in 2012 & 2013).
Sky Sports has live coverage of the US Open tournament (with red button service of all six TV courts) until 2015. Sky also has broadcast rights the ATP World Tour and the ATP World Tour Finals (all matches live) until 2017. Prior to this, six round-robin matches, one semi-final and final live on BBC until 2013.
Since its inception in 1999, Sky Sports has broadcast the World Golf Championships exclusively live, with the exception of the 2001 WGC-American Express Championship, which was broadcast on the 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.
Sky 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 midway through the 2009 season and the rights for the remainder of the season were awarded to Eurosport.
Sky Sports shows live coverage of the sport's premier event, the Ryder Cup. Since 1995, they have 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 County Kildare Ireland. Since 1999 it has also offered interactive coverage with options including the American coverage, Highlights and course guides. Sky holds the rights until 2012, with BBC broadcasting evening highlights. In 2010, Sky broadcast the Ryder Cup in 3D, making it the first live event on Sky 3D, Europe's first residential 3D channel.
Sky Sports covered some BDO Tournaments during its inception including the 1992 Winmau World Masters which was previously broadcast on ITV. 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 game's then sole ruling body, Sky Sports has broadcast the new organisation's main darts tournaments live, which currently includes the following. Between 1993-2007 Sky were the only regular UK broadcaster of PDC Darts (apart from the 1999 BDO v PDC showdown between Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld which was broadcast on ITV) however this changed in 2007 when ITV covered the PDC/BDO tournament the Grand Slam of Darts, this moved to Sky in 2011 however ITV continued to show the European Championship and Players Championship Finals, their coverage expanded in 2014 to cover the UK Open and the Masters. The PDC World Championship has been broadcast live and in its entirety by Sky Sports in the UK since its inception. Since 2009 the tournament has been shot in High Definition (HD). The tournament has become more and more popular in recent years with the 2007 World Final achieving a viewing figure in excess of 1 million for the first time. Sky's contract to cover the event was extended until 2013, which was the 20th year of the tournament. Sky Sports have not covered any BDO Darts since the split in darts although cover the Grand Slam which features BDO players. BBC Sport, BT Sport and Eurosport continue to cover BDO Darts and ESPN UK were the only channel to cover both BDO and PDC Darts at the same time while ITV have free-to-air PDC darts.
Sky Sports Darts coverage was initially presented by Jeff Stelling with Eric Bristow and commentary by John Gwynne and Dave Lanning while Sid Waddell joined Sky from the BBC in 1994. Dave Clark replaced Stelling in 2002 although covered some tournaments in 2001, Pyke joined the commentary team in 2003, Rod Harrington and Nigel Pearson joined in 2005, Rod Studd joined in 2008 and former BBC Darts commentators David Croft and John Part joined in 2013. David Croft only works for Sky Sports Darts on the PDC World Darts Championship and some weeks of the Premier League Darts and Stuart Pyke also works for ITV coverage of PDC Darts.
Sky Sports Darts Team: Eric Bristow (1993–present) Dave Clark: (2001–present) Stuart Pyke: (2003–present, Also works for ITV Sport Darts Coverage 2007–present) Rod Harrington: (2005–present) Nigel Pearson: (2005–present) Rod Studd: (2008–present) Wayne Mardle: (2010–present) David Croft: (2013–present, previously worked for BBC Sport Darts Coverage 2003-2012) John Part: (2013–present, previously worked for BBC Sport Darts Coverage 1995-2007)
Former Sky Sports Darts Team: Dave Lanning: (1993-2010 & 2013, Previously worked for ITV Sport Darts Coverage 1972-1988) John Gwynne: (1993-2013, Now with Eurosport BDO Darts Coverage 2014–present) Sid Waddell: (1994-2012, Died from Cancer. Previously worked for BBC Sport Darts Coverage 1978-1994) Jeff Stelling: (1993-2002)
Eddie Hearn's Matchroom Boxing enjoy an exclusive television deal with Sky Sports through 2021. Hearn provides Sky Box Office & Sky Sports Fight Night with upwards of 20 events per year and holds the promotional rights on the majority of Britain's elite boxing talent.
In 1989, Sky acquired the rights to WWE, from America. Sky Sports 3 is considered the home of WWE programming on Sky, as the majority of the programmes are shown on it.
Part of the current deal with Sky states that major PPV's such as WrestleMania, Survivor Series, the Royal Rumble and SummerSlam are part of the Sky Box Office pay-per-view service, and that SmackDown's first broadcast moved from Sky1 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 Thursday nights. Sky Sports 1 shows six WWE PPV events live a year.
Sky also broadcast WWE's third brand, ECW on Sci Fi before it was cancelled. For a couple of months it replaced WWE Velocity on Sunday mornings. It is 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 on 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 30 January 2014, Sky Sports announced they had signed another five-year deal with WWE. Sky will now continue to exclusively broadcast WWE's flagship shows in the UK and Ireland through to 2019.
WWE pay-per-views were previously shown on Sky Sports for free roughly every 5 months, with all remaining pay-per-views being broadcast on Sky Sports Box Office at an additional cost. However, as of 2015, all pay-per-views were broadcast on Sky Sports Box Office at a cost of £19.95.
The following list excludes WWE pay-per-view events where a minority are broadcast on Sky Sports while the rest are broadcast on Sky Box Office at an additional cost of £19.95 (€24.95 in Ireland) per event.
In 2006, Sky Sports began showing a replay from a match in the Elite Ice Hockey League every week. Due to large audience numbers, even though it is normally on Sky Sports 4, they decided to show a live game for the first time in several years when they showed the playoff finals in 2010. A new deal was signed for the 2010/11 season in which Sky agreed to show eight live games throughout the season and a weekly highlights show every week. However, the broadcast rights have since moved to another subscription sports channel.
116 live matches per season until 2016 (Packages B, C, D, E and F), 38 live matches per season on BT Sport & Highlights on BBC Sport, ***2016-2019: 126 live matches per season (Packages A, C, D, E and G), 42 matches on BT Sport and highlights on BBC Sport.
Sky Sports' football coverage was at the centre of controversy in January 2011 when footage emerged of presenters Andy Gray and Richard Keys making comments perceived as sexist. On 25 January 2011, Gray was sacked over the comments. Sky Sports reporter Andy Burton was subsequently suspended coinciding with Gray's original suspension due to similar comments that were perceived as sexist. Keys resigned the following day. At the time, there were newspaper reports alleging that Gray had threatened to sue BSkyB for unfair dismissal (though there is no evidence that any legal action was either forthcoming and/or successful).