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Discovery, BT Group in Discussions for U.K. Sports Joint Venture

British telecom major BT Group revealed that on Thursday that it has “entered exclusive discussions with Discovery, Inc. on a deal to create a new sport and entertainment offering for customers in the U.K.”

The new business would be a 50/50 joint venture, bringing together BT Sport with Eurosport U.K. “The new combined business would remain committed to retaining BT Sport’s existing major sports broadcast rights while BT Sport customers would get access to Discovery’s sport and entertainment content, including the Discovery Plus app,” said a statement from the BT Group.

BT Sport holds exclusive live U.K. and Ireland TV rights to 52 Premier League matches per season, the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, UFC, National League, Ligue 1, Serie A, the European Rugby Challenge Cup, the Premiership Rugby Cup, MotoGP, the FIH Hockey World League and WWE. They are also the official broadcast partner of the European Rugby Champions Cup and Premiership Rugby.

BT Group said that they are aiming to conclude the exclusive discussions with Discovery, Inc. in the early part of the year’s first quarter, with a view to the new company becoming operational later this year, subject to completion of the deal and approval by the relevant competition authorities.

In January, it was reported that Kevin Mayer’s sports streaming service DAZN was on the cusp of an estimated $800 million deal to acquire BT Sport, though that report was not corroborated by either party.

JB Perrette, president and CEO of Discovery streaming and international, said: “We are excited about this opportunity with BT Group to offer consumers a stronger and simplified combined sport offering in the U.K. and Ireland, and, more broadly, to advance our strategy of bringing sports and entertainment to more consumers on the platform of their choice. We are aligned with BT Group on a shared vision to maximize the value and appeal of our respective UK sport assets, and we look forward to concluding a deal in the coming weeks.”

Marc Allera, CEO BT Consumer, said: “The proposed joint venture with Discovery, Inc. would create an exciting new sports broadcasting entity for the U.K. and would act as a perfect home for our BT Sport business. With a shared ambition for growth, as well as the combination of our world class sports assets along with Discovery’s premium sports and entertainment content, our customers will benefit from even more content in more places.”

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