Warner Bros Discovery and BT completed its ambitious 50:50 tie-up this morning, marking a major moment for live sports coverage in the UK.
The deal brings together BT Sport and Eurosport UK under roof, which the companies say will eventually merge to make one single brand.
BT Sport and Eurosport UK said they will retain their separate products until they build “a new sports destination for fans”.
The joint venture agreement covers everything from the Olympic Games coverage to the Premier League and UEFA Champions League.
Under the terms of the agreement made in May, BT will receive £93m in instalments over the next three years, cashing in up to £540m in performance based payments over four years for the coverage.
Speaking with City A.M., senior TV analyst Julian Aquilina said a key consideration moving forward for the joint venture would be which brand will be at the forefront of this new combined offering.
He explained that whilst BT is a household name in the UK, “it may be difficult to keep the BT brand at the forefront given that the service is going to be integrated into the global operator”.
“This could be problematic for legacy BT subscribers,” he said, adding that both BT and Warner Bros Discovery will be conscious of any diverging focus.
However, the tie-up between the two media giants seems to have left the wider sports streaming market pretty unfazed.
“Rivals will not be hugely concerned for now as neither party has shown a significant appetite to write an open cheque for sports rights. Latest deals such as the renewal of UEFA TV rights suggests that BT wants to spend less,” analyst at PP Foresight Paolo Pescatore told City A.M.
The joint venture confirmed earlier this year that it would enter a new agreement with its biggest rival Sky, confirming that BT’s cross-licensing deal with the media giant would last beyond 2030.
In practice, this means that Sky and BT will continue to the other’s football matches and make them available to their respective subscribers.
Pescatore called the joint venture a “marriage of convenience” for both Warner Bros Discovery and BT: underplaying Sky’s concerns.