UK competition authorities greenlight BT Sport, Eurosport JV | Media Investment | Business | News | Rapid TV News
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Following mandatory submission of the move to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), BT Group and Warner Bros. Discovery have been given approval to proceed with their plan to create a 50:50 Joint Venture (JV) company that will create a new sports offering for the UK & Ireland.
BT Warner 12May2022
The JV, the product of almost a year’s worth of discussions, will see the production and operational assets of BT Sport transfer to and become a wholly owned subsidiary of Warner Bros. Discovery’s Eurosport. By bringing together the sports content offering of both sports channels, the JV will have one of the most extensive portfolios of premium sports rights including 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.

Both BT Sport and Eurosport UK will initially retain their separate brands and product propositions in the market before being brought together under a single brand in the future. BT Group and Warner Bros. Discovery will enter into distribution agreements with the JV under which they will distribute the combined sports content to new and existing customers on their respective platforms and apps. In addition, Warner Bros. Discovery and BT will each directly contribute, sub-license or deliver the benefit of their respective sports rights and distribution agreements for the UK & Ireland to the JV.

As part of the deal, BT plc will receive £93 million from Warner Bros. Discovery and up to approximately £540m by way of an earn-out from the JV, subject to certain conditions being met.BT plc will retain a 50% interest in the JV, and Warner Bros. 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’s agreement with the JV will extend beyond 2030, and for the first four years, includes a minimum revenue guarantee of approximately £500 million per annum, after which the agreement will change to a fully variable arrangement. 

The CMA’s decision allow BT and Warner Bros. Discovery to complete the creation of the JV in the coming weeks and for each of their assets to be transferred into the new company. The Board of Directors of the JV will be equally represented between appointees of British Telecommunications plc and Warner Bros. Discovery. The first Chairperson to be appointed, nominated by each shareholder on a rotating basis, will be Marc Allera, CEO BT’s consumer division. The new management and delivery of the JV will be led by Andrew Georgiou, president and managing director, Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Europe, who will be a member of its board.

Commenting on the announcement, Allera said: “It’s great news that the CMA has approved the new JV that we are forming with Warner Bros. Discovery, combining the very best of BT Sport and Eurosport UK, to create an exciting new offer for live sport programming in the UK. Today is a huge milestone, as we now look toward day one of the new business, which we hope to be in the coming weeks.”

“Combining the capabilities, portfolios and scale of BT Sport and Eurosport UK will be a big win for fans in the UK & Ireland, offering a new destination that will feature all the sport they love in one place,” Georgiou added. “We now look forward to closing the transaction and having the opportunity to further engage all stakeholders in the process of forming and developing the JV."