BT Sport eyes joint venture with Eurosport owner Discovery to boost its position in the UK market
BT is in talks with a US rival to create a joint venture and boost its position in the UK sports broadcasting market.
The FTSE 100 telecoms giant has entered exclusive discussions with Eurosport owner Discovery about a tie-up with BT Sport.
Bringing together BT Sport and Eurosport would create a 50-50 offering that will see events such as Premier League football, the Champions League, Premiership Rugby, Grand Slam tennis and the Olympics all come under one entity.
Team up talks: BT has entered exclusive discussions with Eurosport owner Discovery about a tie-up with BT Sport
The revelation ends months of speculation about the fate of BT Sport. The company held talks about a possible sale of the business to Dazn, a sports streaming company backed by British-American billionaire Len Blavatnik.
However, the upcoming deal with Discovery means Dazn faces an uncertain future in the UK market as it may struggle to attract subscribers, and therefore revenues, without BT Sport’s content.
Some analysts predicted that a joint venture with Discovery would give BT the firepower it needs to retain control of its rights to the Premier League and Champions League, both of which are highly sought after by its competitor Sky.
‘Having made a big pitch for a slice of the football pie some years ago, battling out with Sky for rights to Premier League and Champions League football, BT now wants to find a partner to share the huge costs involved,’ said AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.
Following the creation of the new entity, BT Sports customers will be able to access all of Discovery’s sport and entertainment content through the Discovery+ app.
Discussions around the tie-up are expected to conclude soon with the venture up and running later this year if it is approved by regulators.
Marc Allera, the head of BT’s consumer arm, said the tie-up would make ‘a perfect home’ for the BT Sport business.
However, shares in the company dropped 4.8 per cent, or 9.45p, to 186.05p after it issued a bleak trading update and cut its full-year guidance.
Profits for the nine months to the end of December were 3 per cent lower year-on-year at £1.5billion, while revenues dipped 2 per cent to £15.7billion. The profit drop was blamed on supply chain issues and slower growth in its corporate division.
However, the firm continued to rapidly expand its ultra-fast fibre broadband network through its Openreach business.
BT provided fibre broadband access to a record 662,000 properties in its third quarter at a rate of around 50,000 per week.
BT downgraded its full-year revenue forecasts, predicting a decline of around 2 per cent year-on-year.