British telecom major BT Group revealed that on Thursday that it has “entered exclusive discussions with Discovery, Inc. on a deal to create a new sport and entertainment offering for customers in the U.K.”
The new business would be a 50/50 joint venture, bringing together BT Sport with Eurosport U.K. “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 Plus app,” said a statement from the BT Group.
The combined entity will boast of a range of sports properties including the Olympic Games, Premier League, soccer’s UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, cycling Grand Tours, tennis Grand Slams, the winter sport World Cup season and Premiership Rugby.
BT Group said that they are aiming to conclude the exclusive discussions with Discovery, Inc. in the early part of the year’s first quarter, with a view to the new company becoming operational later this year, subject to completion of the deal and approval by the relevant competition authorities.
In January, it was reported that Kevin Mayer’s sports streaming service DAZN was on the cusp of an estimated $800 million deal to acquire BT Sport, though that report was not corroborated by either party. Mayer said: “We remain fully committed to growing our business and investing in the U.K., 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.”
JB Perrette, president and CEO of Discovery streaming and international, said: “We are excited about this opportunity with BT Group to offer consumers a stronger and simplified combined sport offering in the U.K. and Ireland, and, more broadly, to advance our strategy of bringing sports and entertainment to more consumers on the platform of their choice. We are aligned with BT Group on a shared vision to maximize the value and appeal of our respective UK sport assets, and we look forward to concluding a deal in the coming weeks.”
Marc Allera, CEO BT Consumer, said: “The proposed joint venture with Discovery, Inc. would create an exciting new sports broadcasting entity for the U.K. 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.”