Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) will have a call option on their new premium sports JV with BT, allowing them to buy out their new partner.
Confirming February’s announcement, the new 50/50 joint venture will bring together BT Sport and Eurosport UK into a new company. It will hold a rights portfolio that includes UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, the Premier League, Premiership Rugby, UFC, the Olympic Games, tennis Grand Slams featuring the Australian Open and Roland-Garros, cycling Grand Tours including the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia and the winter sports World Cup season.
Marc Allera, CEO BT’s Consumer division, said “I’m incredibly proud of the established, creative and innovative broadcaster that BT Sport has become. We have a brilliant team who are dedicated to broadcasting amazing sporting moments and we look forward to working with Eurosport UK to realise the opportunities that this next stage will bring both our team and our viewers.”
The business will now be operated by WBD with BT receiving £93 million from its new partner and approximately £540m through an earn-out from the JV, subject to certain conditions being met.
Discovery will be granted a Call Option over BT plc’s interest in the JV, exercisable at specified points in the first four years of the JV. BT had previously considered a number of options for its loss-making sports channels including an outright sale and had also entered talks with rival sports platform DAZN.
Those customers who access BT Sport through BT directly, and the majority of BT TV customers will be able to receive Discovery+ as part of their existing subscriptions. The streaming service already features to Eurosport’s live and on-demand streaming offer in the UK & Ireland.
Andrew Georgiou, President and Managing Director, Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Europe said “We are excited to bring fans a new premium sport offering that brings together everything they love from BT Sport and Eurosport UK. Combining this with 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.”
A series of distribution agreements will be signed to offer the combined sports content to new and existing customers on their respective platforms and apps.
Both BT Sport and Eurosport UK will retain their current branding for the time being, though will be brought together in the future.
The Transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to complete by the end of 2022.