• Majority of BT's 38 games to be shown on Saturday lunchtimes
• Sky confident experience of picking matches gives them edge
The announcement of the Premier League fixture list will also sound the starting gun on a bitter battle over which matches are to be televised live between BSkyB and BT. The new broadcaster has gambled £738m on securing the rights to 38 live matches per season, but Sky Sports will still screen the lion's share, 116 games, under a domestic TV deal worth more than £3bn in total to Premier League clubs over the next three seasons.
Unlike its predecessors which have failed in challenging in Sky, such as Setanta, or have opted not to compete head-on, such as ESPN, BT has trumpeted the fact that it has 18 "first-pick matches" among its rights. So although it will only air an average of one game a week, most of them in a Saturday lunchtime slot, it will be able to lay claim to meaningful matches involving some of the most attractive clubs.
However, it will have to first negotiate the complex picking process in which Sky is confident that its two decades of experience will be brought to bear. Knowledge of which matches will be affected by police advice and other factors is crucial in second-guessing the knock-on effects of making certain choices, but BT will argue that it has plenty of expertise on board from former Setanta and Sky executives.
Sky will be able to choose 20 rounds of fixtures in which it will have first pick of the matches on offer, while BT will effectively be left with the other 18 rounds – subject to various other complicating factors.
Executives at both companies have been deciding for months how they will structure their approach, but it is only once the fixtures have been released that they can begin to properly plan their tactics in picking their first tranche of matches. One of the key decisions for both companies will be the extent to which they "frontload" their choices in order to start with a bang.
BT, having spent heavily on marketing its new sports channels that will be offered free to subscribers to its broadband service, will be keen to make a statement of intent. During Setanta's ultimately doomed attempt to take on Sky's dominance its executives became so frustrated with the opposition's blocking tactics during negotiations over picks that it complained to the Premier League.
The complex game of bluff and double-bluff is likely to take two or three weeks and result in a host of the matches announced morning being moved for the benefit of the cameras. The full list of the first tranche of televised matches is unlikely to be finalised until the first or second week of July.
Gavin Patterson, the BT Retail chief who was heavily involved in the decision to bid for the Premier League rights as a driver for its broadband and "triple-play services", was named chief executive of the entire company.
The new channels will launch in early August, broadcasting from new studios on the Olympic Park. As well as the Premier League, BT has secured exclusive rights to Premiership rugby and through a deal to acquire ESPN's UK business, coverage of the FA Cup and Scottish Premier League.