BT will stop supplying its sport channels via the aerial for all new customers as of January 24th.
The company currently supplies its BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN channels via satellite to Sky customers and to its own BT TV customers who live in infinity-enabled areas.
It also supplies BT Sport 1 and BTSport 2 via aerial to those BT TV users outside infinity areas who have one of its older Vision+ boxes.
However a notice on BT.com says that the third option will be withdrawn “from 25th January 2014” after which “BT Sport will only be available on BT TV for customers who have or take BT Infinity.”
Non-infinity customers who currently receive BT Sport via their aerial won’t be affected by the change and new customers will continue to receive free access to the channels via BT.com and the BT Sport app.
A BT spokesperson said: “BT can confirm that new customers in fibre areas will need to take BT Infinity if they want to watch BT Sport via BT TV. This is because we want them to enjoy the best possible viewing experience.
“Existing customers in non-fibre areas will be unaffected. As for potential new customers in non-fibre areas, our sales advisors will talk them through the options.
“We are working on alternatives so that customers in non-fibre areas can enjoy BT Sport via BT TV”
One possibility is that BT will use a forthcoming update to its YouView-based TV platform to make the channels available to non-infinity users.
The service offers free aerial delivered digital terrestrial channels alongside optional subscription channels delivered via broadband.
Currently these channels are transmitted using a managed streaming technology known as ‘multicast’ which needs to be supported by the broadband provider.
Unlike its infinity fibre broadband, BT’s traditional ADSL broadband packages don’t support the multicast technology.
However later this year YouView is expected to release a software update which will allow internet channels to be watched by customers with non-multicast connections.
It’s possible BT could use this change to offer its channels to ADSL customers as well as Infinity homes.