This article is superseded by more recent events. It has been kept online as a document recording the twists and turns of the battle to buy BT Sport
The ball is back in DAZN’s court, according to latest reports into the ongoing negotiations over the future of BT’s sport channels.
Talks between BT and DAZN stalled in 2021, with Discovery then entering into discussions with BT over a potential joint venture. Now DAZN hopes to seal the deal in a transaction worth an estimated $800 million: but the transaction could still fall apart at the last minute.
According to Reuters, securing agreements with BT Sport’s distributors Sky and Virgin Media as well as sports rights holders have proved to be an obstacle. Discovery is also still in discussions with BT.
DAZN sees BT Sport as a gateway to the UK sports TV market. It was locked out of bidding for Premier League rights last year, when the League opted to roll-over existing rights agreements for another three years. A deal with Discovery would create a serious competitor to Sky on several fronts.
BT, DAZN and Discovery have said they will not offer any comment on the reports.
The rise and fall of BT’s TV business
BT Sport launched in 2013 as part of BT’s former strategy of competing with Sky. At that point, Sky was growing its broadband business, moving into BT’s operational area. BT was meanwhile building a pay TV service to help retain broadband customers. The rivalry between BT and Sky led to years of restricted service for both sets of subscribers. BT TV users couldn’t access all of Sky’s channels. Sky customers had to enter a separate subscription agreement to access BT Sport on satellite.
In late 2019, both sides resolved their differences. In 2020, BT became a reseller of Sky’s NOW (TV) service and has nearly finished winding down its legacy or ‘classic’ TV packages, as existing carriage agreements with broadcasters expire.
With the sale of BT Sport, BT hopes to raise money to invest in fibre broadband rollout in the UK.