DAZN Out, Discovery In, as BT Sport Heads in a Different Direction

Posted on: February 3, 2022, 09:04h. 

Last updated on: February 3, 2022, 09:28h.

DAZN is no longer a contender to purchase BT Sport. BT Group announced this morning that it has decided to head in a different direction, with Discovery Inc its new target.

DAZN was close to securing a deal to purchase BT Sport. However, it has lost out to Discovery Inc. (Image: Front Office Sports)

Only a couple of weeks ago, DAZN was confident it had a virtual lock on purchasing BT Sport. The $800-million deal would have given the European sports broadcaster substantial access to new viewer markets, as well as sports content. However, it has now been benched.

BT Group has entered “exclusive” negotiations with Discovery Inc., the company behind the Discovery Channel, Eurosport, Discovery+ and other regional channels across Europe. If the two make a deal, Discovery will gain access to BT Sport’s Premier League and UEFA Champions League offerings.

Deal Close to Wrapping Up

The arrangement has reportedly reached an advanced stage. Finalization of the terms of the agreement is possible sometime during the first quarter of the year. As BT Group explains, the resulting operations will include a 50/50 broadcast joint venture that will join BT Sports and Eurosport UK channels, as well as media rights.

The two companies are already working on the creation of the new entity, hoping that it will be ready for launch sometime later this year. That would follow a separate Discovery deal in the works with AT&T.

The telecommunications company is looking to merge its WarnerMedia subsidiary with Discovery to create Warner Bros. Discovery. European authorities already approved the deal, with finalization coming before this summer.

DAZN Caught By Surprise

DAZN wasn’t expecting to be pushed out. Even as recently as yesterday, everything appeared to be moving forward for a BT Sport-DAZN arrangement. The Times reported that BT Group had even discussed the deal with the Premier League. The league has to give its approval as well because of the current rights agreement.

However, Discovery may have presented an offer BT couldn’t refuse. DAZN’s chairman, Kevin Mayer, explained that it was “uneconomical” to continue to pursue a BT Sport deal. He added that the company will still explore new options.

Mayer said that DAZN still wants to expand its operations in the UK. He hinted that something may already be in the works, but didn’t offer details.

Discovery has deep pockets, as well as several strong agreements already in place. It holds the TV rights for the Olympics across all of Europe, with that deal worth over $1.2 billion.

Working out a deal with BT Group will further Discovery’s European access. In addition to the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League, it will also pick up UEFA Europa League, cycling’s Grand Tours, the Grand Slams of tennis, the winter World Cup season, and Premiership Rugby.