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BT Sport, Eurosport UK to merge as part of Warner Bros Discovery venture with BT

Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) and BT Group have confirmed they are setting up a new premium sports joint venture for the UK and Ireland, having been in exclusive discussions since February.

Andrew Georgiou

The two have agreed a set of definitive agreements to form the 50-50 joint-venture company that will transfer the operating duties of BT Sport to WBD, which already owns Eurosport UK.

BT will receive £93m (US$113m) from WBD and up to £540m by way of an earn-out from the JV, subject to certain conditions being met.

The venture will have an extensive portfolios of premium sports rights, including UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, multiple Premier League games, the Olympic Games, the Tour de France and numerous tennis Grand Slams.

Meanwhile, customers who access BT Sport through BT directly, and the majority of BT TV customers, are set to receive streaming service Discovery+ as part of their existing subscriptions.

Both BT Sport and Eurosport UK will initially retain their separate brands and product propositions in the market before being brought together under a single brand in the future.

The JV will also enter into a new agreement with Sky extending beyond 2030 to provide for its distribution of the entity’s combined sports content.

WBD will manage the day-to-day operations of the venture. It and BT Group will enter into distribution agreements with the JV under which they will distribute the combined sports content to new and existing customers on their respective platforms and apps.

BT will retain a 50% interest in the JV and WBD will be granted a call option over BT’s interest in it, exercisable at specified points in the first four years of the venture.

If the call option is not exercised by WBD, BT will be able to leave its stake in the JV, through either a sale or IPO.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including approvals by the relevant regulatory bodies and is expected to complete by the end of 2022.

The two entered into exclusive discussions to set up the JV in February, shortly after reports suggested sports media group DAZN was closing in on a deal to acquire BT Sport and its Premier League rights.

Factual media giant Discovery, which has now merged with WarnerMedia, entered the global sports media business in 2014 with its acquisition of Eurosport. Teleco BT joined the fray with BT Sport in 2013 by entering the highly competitive market for Premier League rights as a challenger to Sky. Since then, Amazon has also successfully bid to stream Premier League games.

Marc Allera, CEO at BT’s consumer division, said: “As a global sports and entertainment broadcaster, Warner Bros Discovery is the perfect partner to work with us to take BT Sport to the next stage of its growth. We’re excited to be joining forces to bring the best of BT Sport together with Eurosport UK to create a fantastic new sports offer alongside all the entertainment that Discovery+ has to offer BT customers.”

Andrew Georgiou, president and MD at WBD Sports Europe, added: “We are excited to bring fans a new premium sport offering that brings together everything they love from BT Sport and Eurosport UK. Combining this with our growing portfolio of premium entertainment content promises to deliver consumers a richer and deeper content proposition, not only providing greater value from their subscriptions but bringing sport to a wider entertainment audience.”


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