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BT adds NBA to growing sports rights collection

Production staff work in the gallery during the BT Sport channel launch program at the BT Sport studio in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park,
Production staff work in the gallery during the BT Sport channel launch program at the BT Sport studio in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park,

LONDON (Reuters) - BT will show NBA basketball matches live on its TV channels from this weekend, strengthening its challenge to BSkyB in the battle to attract British sports fans.

BT entered the sports market only in August when it launched three channels after securing a share of English Premier League soccer rights. It further shook up the sector this month when it outbid BSkyB to win the contract for Champions League soccer from 2015.

The multi-year deal to show the leading basketball league from the United States starts with a game on Sunday evening between Indiana Pacers and LA Clippers, BT said on Thursday. A total of 200 games will be screened during the season, helping to flesh out programming for the BT channels.

"The NBA is simply the best basketball in the world," said Simon Green, head of BT Sport.

"Existing NBA fans will love our coverage, and we look forward to converting many more," he added.

Financial terms were not disclosed. The NBA is not currently being shown on British television.

BSkyB shows live action from American football's NFL, one of the other major U.S. sports that enjoys a following in Europe.

BT and BSkyB are using sports as a weapon in their struggle for supremacy in the British broadband market where BSkyB has made inroads into the leading position of former state telco BT.

(Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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