BSkyB has muscled out challenger BT to secure key matches at the start of the Premier League season, including Manchester United's clashes with other top teams, José Mourinho's first fixture back at Chelsea and Manuel Pellegrini's first game in charge of Manchester City.
The first round of televised Premier League fixtures published on Thursday reveal that Sky Sports has focused its efforts on keeping out BT from Manchester United's top matches, which attract the biggest football audiences, including the Manchester derby.
BT's top matches in the opening weeks of the 2013/14 season are the London derby clash between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea and Everton versus Liverpool in the Merseyside derby.
However, while Sky has plucked the pick of the top Premier League games until December, BT could have a strong end to the season, as it has only exercised five of its 18 first picks, leaving with it with 13 first picks at the business end of the season. Sky has exercised eight of its 20 picks, leaving it with 12.
But the contrast in the early games is marked, with BT's first game of the season Liverpool v Stoke, while Sky is airing David Moyes' much-anticipated first game in charge of Manchester United in a free-to-air live broadcast, in an effort to get one over on BT, which has spent £738m over three years securing the rights to 38 live matches a season. Sky paid £2.3bn for 116 matches per season.
Sky is also showing every fixture between last season's top four clubs and will have shown a live match featuring every Premier League team at least once by 6 October.
But BT does have some prize games in the first half of the season, including Tottenham v Manchester United.
The Sky Sports managing director, Barney Francis, said: "This is our biggest ever season of Premier League football. When you look at the opening fixtures in black and white, you can see that no other broadcaster comes close to the quality that we offer. Sky Sports will show every match between last season's top four as well as every club at least twice by December.
"We'll have more than three times as many matches as BT, and our schedule is even stronger than it was last season. With the best team of analysts, a fantastic new weekend schedule and coverage from the Football League, Uefa Champions League, La Liga and the SPL, this is the best ever football season for Sky Sports viewers."
The director of BT Sport, Simon Green, said: "We are thrilled that BT Sport viewers will be able to enjoy these top-of-the-table matches free with BT broadband. This is the first time in Premier League history that top-pick matches have been shown anywhere other than on Sky, but Sky TV customers can easily add BT Sport by calling us and if they have BT broadband they can get it for free."
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