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BT Sport: ‘The journey starts here…’

09 May 2013

I was so excited and proud to have been part of today’s launch of BT Sport's three new channels.  Channels that I believe are making our national sport of football affordable and accessible, once again.

So many people love the Barclays Premier League; yet so many people have been unable to enjoy it… until now.  Until BT decided to make them FREE with BT Broadband! 

Our Barclays Premier League coverage will be available to every BT Broadband customer in the UK as well as those who don't have BT Broadband, and making it as cheap as possible was key to my joining BT Sport.  At the bottom of this blog you can find a link about what BT Sport will offer, and how to register for it. 

I’d love you to join me on this journey.

It’s a journey I can’t wait to start, and one that stretches back to when I first met the BT bosses just before last summer’s London Olympic Games. As you know I am a staunch defender and lover of the BBC and what it stands for, however I am also a sport lover I was immediately impressed by the ambition and drive of BT.

I believe sport must be live. They agree.

I believe the audience need incisive analysis delivered by current or recently retired players who can empathise with current stars of the sport. They agree.

I believe we need to create a place where we don’t take ourselves, or the sport too seriously. Sport is entertainment and our coverage should reflect that. They agree.

I believe that social media and making ourselves as accessible as possible to you, the audience, is vital to success… and they agree.

So, I now find myself a small cog in a very big machine that, from next season, will be the home of club rugby in the UK. A place that will deliver not only 38 Barclays Premier League games but 18 of them will be the top games, some of the best matches in the best league in the world.

And to bring the sport alive, what a great line-up of pundits and experts we have put together.

I grabbed a coffee with Owen Hargreaves a few weeks ago, and knew immediately that he would be a great signing for BT Sport. From what it feels like to be England’s best player at a World Cup, to how you end up signing for the biggest English team of the lot, to how players cope when injury ravages their career.  You’ll love watching him.

Throw in the mix goalkeeper, David James, who has played well over 600 games in the Premier League – talk about experience.  Four of his former teams are still represented… I’m sure he’d love Watford to make it fivein the coming weeks.

Steve Mcmanaman is someone I can’t wait to get to know and to work alongside. What a player he was. Man of the match when Real Madrid won the Champions League. FA Cup winner, League Cup winner, double Champions League winner, Liverpool legend and recently voted 3rd on a list of the 10 greatest British players to play abroad.

And what about the signing of Michael Owen? There was so much speculation about what Michael would do when he hung up his boots, and I’m so excited that he has chosen BT Sport as the place to continue his career. Having him live in the commentary box at the games will make our coverage ‘must-watch TV’.

Talking of must-watch - how great that we have Rio Ferdinand on-board too.  His passion for the game and forthright views will add real electricity to our coverage.

So that’s Owen Hargreaves, Michael Owen and Rio Ferdinand who all have vast experience of working with Sir Alex Ferguson and can all give us a real ‘insiders’ look at what will be happening behind the scenes as Manchester United undergo huge changes.

Then throw into the mix the new BT Sport ambassadors that we have unique and exclusive access to such as Gareth Bale, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Robin Van Persie, and you can see that we are trying to access the very heart of the sport to take you closer than ever before.

However, this new journey is about so much more than just the Barclays Premier League.  We’ll also bring you the FA Cup, the Europa League and Martina Navratilova will lead our Women’s Tennis coverage.  You will also spot plenty of well-known rugby players in our advertising.  The likes of Owen Farrell and Chris Robshaw are leading the line for us, as BT Sport becomes the only place to see Aviva Premiership rugby, with Lawrence Dallaglio in our commentary box.

I think ESPN have done a great job at covering rugby, and we will take all that knowledge and expertise, hone it, improve it, and make the new home of rugby a place you can be proud of.  I think the Premiership will also benefit from having every game in just one place.

As a motorsport lover I was also so excited when I knew we might be able to pull off quite a coup and beat a number of other broadcasters to bag exclusive rights to Moto GP from 2014.  I am certain we will give you the commitment, consistency and creativity you deserve from the sports’ broadcaster, and I think there is so much we can do to give you a better insight into Moto GP than you’ve ever had before.

The way F1 is covered has changed beyond recognitionin the past few years and it’s time to bring much of that to Moto GP.  Insight, analysis, breaking down the technical barriers, getting to know the riders – I think it can all be better and we’ll work really hard to make it the most comprehensive coverage you’ve ever had. Moto GP is so compelling, so exciting, and after 4 years in the F1 pit lane I know it deserves the best possible coverage.  We are also well aware how much passion there is for bikes in this country and I want you to trust that we will do you, and the sport you love, justice.

It was particularly great to have Monster Tech3 Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow at our launch and he is really enthused about what BT Sport can bring to the table, as am I.

So many people have talked about an ‘Olympic Legacy’ in recent months, but when I visit our new home on the Olympic Park, I see the first real evidence of such a legacy.

The place where the BBC’s award winning coverage was created, and transmitted, during that incredible summer of sport in 2012 is now home to the BT Sport ‘hub’.  It will be central to the new channel, and from sports lovers gathering for our live sports events on the Park, to the Clare Balding Show that my fellow Olympic presenter will front, we are helping to keep your Olympic memories alive. Do pop by and say hello one Saturday!

However, there is also plenty of work to be done and I know from personal experience how hard it is to deliver top-quality live sport week after week.  As I type there is just 3 months until we need to hit the ground running,and we need to. Sky Sports should be rightly congratulated for doing an incredible job of covering sport, but they also have a 20-year head start on us!

So, the journey starts here and its one I can’t wait to share with you. As I have always tried to do during my career, I want the channels and I to be as accessible as possible to you. Whether via Twitter or via this website do keep your thoughts and feedback coming.

I’m just glad that, finally, after months of keeping secrets and not even being able to tell my parents what is happening behind the scenes at BT Sport – the news is out there!

I’ve been flooded with questions for the past few months, especially on Twitter as people ask; Where can I see BT Sport? How much will it cost? Who will your experts be? Can I get the channels on my SKY box? And they’ve now all been answered.

If you’ve a question that needs answering just drop me a tweet. You can also follow and feedback to BT Sport via their twitter address, which is @BTSport.

I honestly can’t wait to hit your TV screens in the summer.  Having three new channels so dedicated to top quality sport can only be a good thing for you as it should drive down prices, drive up quality, and keep everybody on their toes.

And the most exciting thing about this whole adventureas far as I’m concerned?  It’s only just begun.  Look out for more new sports, new names and new announcements from BT Sport in the coming months.

Right… back to being a new Dad… where did I leave that muslin…

Jake x x

To register your interest in BT Sport, just go to BTSport.com

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