BT strikes deal with Warner Bros Discovery to create a joint venture pay-TV sport business

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 12th May 2022) London, Uk – –

Joint venture will bring together rights to sports including Premier League, Champions League and Olympics

BT has struck a deal with the US media company Warner Bros Discovery to create a joint venture pay-TV sport business, which will bring together rights to sports including the Premier League, the Champions League and the Olympics, worth as much as £633m to the telecoms operator.

In February, BT entered into exclusive talks with the US firm to merge BT Sport with the Discovery-owned Eurosport, which broadcasts a wide range of sports including tennis and cycling and holds the pan-European rights to the Olympics in the UK.

“We have finalised the sports joint venture with Warner Bros Discovery to improve our content offering to customers, aligning our business with a new global content powerhouse,” said Philip Jansen, chief executive of BT.

Under the terms of the 50:50 joint venture, which will be operated by Warner Bros Discovery, BT will receive a £93m payment in instalments over three years after completion of the deal.

BT will also receive up to £540m based on performance of the operation over a period of four years. This could pay out sooner if either the £540m performance cap is hit, or Warner Bros Discovery trigger a call option to take full control.

The two companies said that the BT Sport and Eurosport brands would both initially continue to operate in the UK market “before being brought together under a single brand in the future”.

“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,” said Andrew Georgiou, president and managing director of Warner Bros Discovery sports Europe.

Jansen said that the price increases in phone, TV and broadband bills pushed through on 1 April has so far not had an impact on customers cancelling services to save money.

“Churn is pretty much at record lows,” he said. “One big part of what drives churn is value for money and pricing. Adding additional benefits and bundling of services for customers. It is working. We are not complacent, but what we are offering our customers is hitting our mark.

“On average the price increases we are putting through are about £35 for a year … We know we give great value for money.”

BT, which has raised its cost savings target by £500m to £2.5bn by the end of 2025, has spent billions on sports rights to drive the growth of BT Sport since it was launched a decade ago to stem the loss of millions of broadband customers enticed by its rival Sky’s offers bundling internet connectivity with sport and entertainment programming.

The business succeeded in its job, although it only has a few million customers and turns just a small profit, and BT is now focused on its £15bn plans to roll out next-generation broadband and 5G mobile networks across the UK.

“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,” said Marc Allera, chief executive of BT’s Consumer operation.

BT, which has had to seek clearance from the Premier League and Champions League to push through the change in ownership, has also extended a reciprocal channel supply deal with Sky that is crucial to its sports broadcasting business until 2030.

By Mark Sweney