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Arch rivals Sky and BT have signed a landmark deal that will allow them to licence each other's channels. The deal marks a move away from the bitter rivalry that has engulfed the two firms, especially regarding sports rights.

So what will it mean for Sky and BT customers? How will it work? And when will it come into effect? Read on to find out.

1 Sky will offer BT channels

BT will offer its sports channels via the Sky service. BT currently offers five sports channels: BT Sport 1, 2 and 3, BT Sport ESPN and BT Sport 4K UHD. They show UEFA Champions League and Premier League football, as well as cricket, European Rugby Champions Cup, Ligue 1 football, College American football, and more.

2 Now TV will come to BT TV

now tv smart box homepage

In return, BT TV customers will be able to watch Sky's Now TV service. This gives them access to various packages (or 'passes', as Sky calls them): Entertainment, Sports, Sky Cinema and Kids.

You pay on a monthly basis (though the Sports pass is also available weekly or daily), and you only pay for the package of channels you want to watch.

Money a bit tight one month? You don't have to spend a penny on Now TV. Conversely, if there's lots you want to watch one month, you can splash out on all four passes and effectively have Sky TV for the month.

For more info on what's on Now TV, check out our guide.

3 It covers sports, entertainment and films

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Because Now TV offers more than just sport, BT viewers will have access to previously Sky-exclusive channels like Sky Atlantic. This is home to US TV network HBO's biggest hits, like 'Game of Thrones', 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' and 'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver'.

It also covers the Sky Cinema channels, which bring a new premiere every day, as well as kids' channels and general entertainment channels like MTV, National Geographic, Sky Living, Sky Arts and Sky One.

4 But might not cover all Premier League matches

Premier League October 2016

Under the terms of the current Premier League deal, the broadcast rights to nearly all matches are shared between Sky and BT. The general consensus is that this deal is designed to safeguard both broadcasters in the future – if one snagged the lion's share, then viewers of the other would still be able to access them through their current service. That's the idea, anyway.

However, by the time the deal kicks in, other companies might have bought the rights to some games. Companies like Facebook, Twitter and Amazon are all known to be eyeing the space with interest. If one of these companies did snag some matches, Sky and BT viewers wouldn't be able to watch the full complement on their current service.

Whatever happens, it's thought Sky and BT will retain the majority share, so chances are their viewers will be well catered for.

5 It'll start in 2019

The deal doesn't kick in until 2019, so there's a while to wait. The next Premier League auction should complete by early 2018. We await the results with great interest...

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