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BT opens negotiations on a joint pay-TV venture with Discovery

By John Glenday | Reporter

BT Sport

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discovery communications article

February 3, 2022 | 4 min read

BT has opened exclusive negotiations with Discovery to establish a joint pay-TV venture built around BT Sports.

The potential tie-up could unite BT’s broadcast rights for the Premier League and Champions League together with Discovery-owned Eurosport, which broadcasts tennis and cycling as well as the Olympics in Europe.

BT

This tie-up could unite BT’s broadcast rights for the Premier League and Champions League with Discovery-owned Eurosport

Any union between BT and Discovery would be a major bow to Dazn, the self-styled ‘Netflix of sports,’ which has failed in its efforts to purchase BT Sport after admitting that it was not commercially viable, pushing BT into the arms of Discovery.

Confirming that discussions are taking place, Marc Allera, chief executive of BT’s consumer division, said: “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.”

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Accepting defeat, Dazn chairman Kevin Mayer said: “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.”

Sport has taken a backseat at BT as the telecoms firm prioritizes the rollout of next-generation broadband and 5G across the UK in a £15bn infrastructure drive, prompting it to seek permission from both the Premier League and Champions League to sanction a potential change in ownership either as a joint venture or outright sale.

BT has also extended a vital reciprocal deal with Sky to ensure its sports channels are carried by the satellite broadcaster until 2030.

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