BT is currently in talks with several interested parties to sell off its stake in pay-TV sports. BT Sport currently holds the broadcast rights to a number of high-profile sports leagues, including the Premier League and Champions League.
A BT spokesperson said the following, “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.”
If BT were to part ways with its sports channels, the main question is who would take it over?
The rivalry between BT Sport and Sky Sports has been as fierce as the teams on the pitch at times, with each of the two biggest broadband and TV providers in the UK vying for the largest number of Premier League fixtures airing on their channels.
However, in recent years, Amazon has started carving out a small share of the games to broadcast on its Prime Video subscription service. And the online retailer is one of the companies to throw its hat in the ring for BT Sport. Other names include Disney, ITV, and Dazn, the sports streaming service owned by Sir Leonard Blavatnik.
BT is apparently exploring several options, including a full sale of its sports properties, a joint venture partnership with a media company, or selling a stake. But why does BT want to sell?
BT Sport was launched in 2012 to compete with pay-TV giant Sky, and to attempt to win back the millions of broadband customers it was losing to Sky. As we’ve mentioned, this resulted in some fierce competition between the two providers, and the annual bidding for Premiership broadcast rights has cost BT billions of pounds over the years.
The recent channel-sharing deal between the UK’s two biggest broadband providers put an end to this to a certain extent. This is because customers can now watch all Premier League games across both services for the same price from each provider.
BT’s pay-TV service is now transforming into an aggregating platform. This means BT customers can use the BT TV service to access content from partners such as Sky, Netflix and Amazon.
The money once spent on bidding for fixtures could then be used to re-invest in its broadband services which are at the core of its business. BT is reportedly investing £12.5bn on upgrades to the UK’s broadband network, drastically increasing access to full-fibre broadband and 5G mobile services across the country.
At the moment, it is more-likely that BT will seek to retain a stake in the business. If you’re a BT Sport customer, or you're looking to switch to BT to find the cheapest way to watch football on TV, your subscription will still be valid.
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