BT is planning a deal with Discovery Inc to create a new sport and entertainment offering for customers in the United Kingdom. The new business will be an equal joint venture, bringing together BT Sport with Eurosport UK. The new combined business would remain committed to retaining BT Sport’s existing major sports broadcast rights while BT Sport customers would get access to Discovery’s sport and entertainment content, including the discovery+ app.
BT is aiming to conclude the exclusive discussions with Discovery, Inc. early in the first quarter of 2022, with the new company to be operational later in the year, subject to completion of the deal and approval by the relevant competition authorities.
Marc Allera, the chief executive of BT Consumer, said: “The proposed joint venture with Discovery Inc would create an exciting new sports broadcasting entity for the UK and would act as a perfect home for our BT Sport business. With a shared ambition for growth, as well as the combination of our world class sports assets along with Discovery’s premium sports and entertainment content, our customers will benefit from even more content in more places.”
Online sports service DAZN was reported to have been interested in acquiring the BT Sport business. DAZN Chairman Kevin Mayer said the deal for BT Sport had “become uneconomical” for DAZN, but he remained committed to growing the business in Britain.
Kester Mann of CCS Insight commented: “The announcement comes after months of speculation about the future of BT Sport. DAZN had long appeared the front-runner, making no secret of its desire to acquire Premier League football rights. However, as its talks with BT broke down, Discovery looks to have gate-crashed the deal.”
“BT’s move into sports broadcasting has always divided opinion amid the high spend needed to acquire football rights. As the operator ups its focus on networks and connectivity, particularly its growing ambition in full-fibre, an eventual sale of any joint venture with Discovery could be the likely end-game for the operator.”
BT has also reached agreement in principle with Sky for a new longer-term reciprocal channel supply deal to beyond 2030.