The new business would combine BT Sport and Discovery’s Eurosport, creating an “exciting new sports broadcasting entity” for the UK
Today, BT has announced its intention to form a 50:50 joint venture (JV) with Discovery, a move that would see BT Sport merged with Discovery’s Eurosport.
The venture would bring together various sports broadcasting assets, including the rights to show Premier League, Champions League, Europa League football, cycling Grand Tours, tennis Grand Slams, the winter sport World Cup season, and Premiership Rugby.
“We are excited about this opportunity with BT Group to offer consumers a stronger and simplified combined sport offering in the UK and Ireland, and, more broadly, to advance our strategy of bringing sports and entertainment to more consumers on the platform of their choice,” said JB Perrette, President and CEO of Discovery Streaming & International.
As part of the announcement, BT said it remains committed to retaining its existing major UK broadcasting rights and has also extended its reciprocal channel supply deal with Sky until 2030.
The announcement finally puts to bed rumours that streaming service DAZN was preparing to purchase BT Sport outright. Rumours to this effect had been circulating since April last year, with analysts predicting that such an offer could reach around $800 million.
DAZN was founded back in 2016 and found major success as a sports streaming service in numerous markets around the world. In the UK, however, the company has failed to make a significant breakthrough, largely as a result of lacking the crucial football broadcasting rights that are currently shared by BT Sport, Sky, and Amazon Prime Video.
As a result, the purchase of BT Sport – a unit that has become something of a burden for BT at a time of high network capex – seemed a natural fit. However, it seems that the price of such a move was just too high.
“On this occasion, however, the deal for BT Sport became uneconomical for DAZN,” said Kevin Mayer, DAZN’s chairman, noting that DAZN remained committed to growth in the UK.
This leaves BT in ‘exclusive discussions’ with Discovery, who had expressed interest and floated the idea of a JV in autumn last year.
The two companies are expected to conclude discussions in Q1, with the resulting JV expected to be operational by the end of this year, subject to regulatory approval.
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