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Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge is challenged by Manchester City's Martin Demechelis and Vincent Kompany during their Premier League match at the Etihad stadium in ManchesterReuters

BskyB will have a "real problem" if it doesn't hold on to its current Premier League television rights deal, which allows it to showcase 116 games a season, according to its latest arch-rival, BT Sport.

The sales process for the next cycle of domestic Premier League rights is tipped to begin in the coming months, starting with the 2016-17 season. BT Sport burst onto the market by acquiring domestic rights for 38 Premier League matches per season for three years between 2013-14 and 2015-16.

Sky Sports has long been the pinnacle of Premier League viewing and many challengers, such as Setanta Sports and ESPN, have made plays for its crown, only to be defeated.

BT Sport's incumbent telco parent seems to have finally realised the value of content. And what with the long arm of its broadband reach, BT Sport looks to be a heavyweight contender to Murdoch's longtime football hegemony.

John Petter, chief executive of the consumer division at BT, which operates BT Sport, said: "It's quite a challenge for Sky because Sky have the biggest possible holding you can have – 116 games – and they've seen how BT has bid in previous auctions."

"The question for them is, given the high prices that they charge, can they hold on to what they have? Because any outcome apart from keeping hold of the 116 games that they have is a real problem for them."

BT Sport has already caused Sky to sweat over the Uefa Champions League after it signed a deal to broadcast select games from European football's elite competition from 2015 to 2018, dislodging Sky Sports as the UK's main distributer of the cup.