BT has announced that it is in talks to sell its sports broadcasting unit, BT Sport, to a number of strategic partners.
According to The Telegraph, the broadcaster has hired investment bank Lazard to look into a partial sale, with Amazon, Disney, and DAZN all having held talks with BT, while an unnamed British broadcaster is said to be leading the chase.
The company issued a statement confirming the news, saying: “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.”
After declaring its interest in bidding for the rights to the English Premier League, digital streaming service DAZN is said to be the ‘most keen’ on negotiating a deal with the pay-television broadcaster as it continues its expansion into the UK market.
According to the Financial Times, an arrangement could result in the television unit’s “full disposal,” the creation of a joint venture with a media company, or the selling of a stake for “outside investment.”
£800m per year in costs
According to the paper, Jefferies analyst Jerry Dellis estimates that BT Sport costs the telecommunications behemoth “around £800 million a year” and that the company is now “struggling to define how the broadcasting arm creates value for the business.”
Furthermore, the deal was hinted at in 2018, when Philip Jansen took over as BT’s Chief Executive after Gavin Patterson stepped down, and Chairman Jan Du Plessis indicated that the newly named Jansen’might’ look into the company’s sports strategy.
Following the news that the Premier League is seeking permission from the British government to forego the next rights auction in favour of rolling over deals with established broadcaster partners, including BT Sport, the Premier League has made the announcement.
The UEFA Champions League, Premiership Rugby, MotoGP, and other big assets such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Australian Rules Football are all available on BT Sport.