DAZN in the cold as BT Sport opts for JV with Discovery

BT Group has this morning revealed that it has entered ‘exclusive discussions’ with Discovery Inc to create a new sports broadcasting joint-venture for UK audiences. 

The update sees BT counter news reports that OTT platform DAZN, had won the bid to acquire its UK sports media rights, taking control of BT Sport’s Premier League and UEFA Champions League content.   

Dealmakers aim to secure an agreement by early Q1, that would establish a new 50/50 broadcast joint venture by merging BT Sports and Eurosports UK channels and media rights.  

Marc Allera, CEO BT Consumer, commented: “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.”

BT and Discovery have begun work to establish a new company aiming to be operational later this year, subject to completion of the deal and approval by the relevant authorities, 

DAZN experienced a blow as Chairman of the company, Kevin Mayer, stated that BT Sport became ‘uneconomical’ for the OTT sports streaming platform.

He added: “We remain fully committed to growing our business and investing in the UK, as you will see in the near future. However, we respect that BT chose a different strategic path, and wish BT, BT Sport, and Discovery all the best for the future.”

Yesterday, it was reported that the Premier League had already entered into such talks with DAZN as the deal looked likely to go ahead, BT Group shortly after made clear that Discovery remained  in the running to acquire its BT Sport subsidiary. 

Backed by Sir Leo Blavatnik Access Industries fund, DAZN had earmarked the acquisition of BT Sport as critical to accelerating its global growth strategy, becoming a broadcast player within the UK sports market.  

Entering 2022, media sources reported that DAZN led the race to acquire BT Sports at a discounted rate of $850 million (£600m) – a cut price deal as BT Group was deemed to no longer require the unit that had supported its wider broadband expansion strategy during the past decade. 

Discovery’s deal will offer viewers the Olympic Games, Premier League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, cycling Grand Tours, tennis Grand Slams, the winter sport World Cup season and Premiership Rugby.

Furthermore, BT has also extended a reciprocal channel supply deal with Sky until for the next eight years, which launched a decade ago to provide broadband customers with internet access as well as sports and entertainment.

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