British telecommunications giant BT has entered into exclusive talks with Discovery to create a joint venture which would bring together Discovery’s sports and entertainment content – including its sports channel Eurosport UK – with BT Sport’s existing major broadcast rights. The combined sports rights from the two companies would include the Olympic Games, the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, cycling Grand Tours, tennis Grand Slams, the Fédération Internationale de Ski World Cup and Premiership Rugby.
BT says the companies want to conclude discussions about the joint venture in the second quarter of 2022 and, upon approval by the relevant competition authorities, hope to launch the business later in the year.
The announcement signifies that talks between DAZN and BT – which would have seen the sports streaming service acquire BT Sport – have now collapsed. Last month, DAZN was reportedly on the brink of reaching a takeover deal worth $800M with the sports channel network. The move would have established DAZN as a serious player in the UK’s sports broadcasting landscape, but now the streaming service will have to wait until 2025 for a fresh shot at winning rights to the Premier League, as BT, Sky and Amazon have all agreed to extend their broadcast rights deal until then.
Kevin Mayer, Chairman of DAZN says, “We remain fully committed to growing our business and investing in the UK, as you will see in the near future. On this occasion, however, the deal for BT Sport became uneconomical for DAZN. However, we respect that BT chose a different strategic path and wish BT, BT Sport and Discovery all the best for the future.”
Marc Allera, Chief Executive of BT’s Consumer division explains, “The proposed joint venture with Discovery 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.”
JB Perrette, President and CEO of Discovery Streaming & International, also commented: “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.”