BT has confirmed it is in discussions with third parties about the future of its sports broadcasting division, paving the way for a major streaming giant to gain a foothold in the U. K. market. A report in The Telegraph reported late last night that BT had appointed investment bank Lazard to investigate the possibility of a partial sale and said Amazon Prime AMZN , Disney DIS and DAZN are among those involved in talks. It is also thought that a British broadcaster has also been approached, which raises the possibility of more live sport on Free-to-air TV. In a statement, BT said: “Further to media reports, BT can confirm that early discussions are being held with a number of select strategic partners, to explore ways to generate investment, strengthen our sports business, and help take it to the next stage in its growth. The discussions are confidential and may or may not lead to an outcome.”Any development would be the single biggest shakeup of the British sports media landscape since BT itself entered the market back in 2012, shocking Sky to successfully bid for two packages of live Premier League PINC soccer rights and following that up with exclusive rights to the UEFA Champions League. Since then, BT has increased its portfolio to include English and European rugby, MotoGP and the WWE among others. Meanwhile, it has constructed a state-of-the-art broadcast facility at the former London Olympic park and significantly enhanced its production capabilities. However, the commitment of such vast resources to premium sports rights hasn’t sat well with some investors who feel the capital would be better spent elsewhere, especially at a time when the company is building out its fiber broadband and 5G capabilities. The need for a sports channel is also less obvious than it was in 2012. Back then, BT was motivated by a desire to protect its broadband business from Sky’s offer of free Internet to its television customers. To combat this, BT initially offered BT Sport at no extra cost to customers. The departure of former CEO Gavin Patterson, who spearheaded the project, has lowered enthusiasm too, while an effective non-aggression pact with Sky Sports saw BT’s bill for Premier League soccer stay static at the most recent auction in 2018. A sale of BT Sport – whose rights and customer base would prove attractive – would raise funds for BT’s other endeavors but a joint-venture or partial sale could be an ideal outcome for all parties. BT would retain access to the content, while a new streaming entrant would immediately have a compelling product to drive subscriptions. For example, BT Sport could become an integral part of Amazon Prime’s sports offering or allow Disney+ to attract new customers in the U. K. Ironically, it was BT Sport’s successful bid for Premier League rights in 2012 that ended Disney’s short-lived ESPN venture in the U. K., with BT hoovering up the remainder of the former’s rights in 2013.
All data is taken from the source: http://forbes.com
Article Link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevemccaskill/2021/04/29/amazon-dazn-or-disney-could-launch-uk-streaming-revolution-as-bt-sport-consider-sale/
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