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BT Group Forms New Premium Sports Joint Venture With Warner Bros. Discovery, BT Sport

13/05/2022

BT Group forms a new premium sports joint venture with Warner Bros. Discovery and BT Sport JV to rebrand into single entity By Heather McLean, Editor

Thursday, May 12, 2022 - 17:32

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BT Group and Warner Bros Discovery have announced a new joint venture (JV) that will provide viewers in the UK and Ireland with access to both broadcasters' content. Going forward, both products will be rebranded under a new identity.

Following its announcement of exclusive discussions on 3 February 2022, BT Group has agreed a set of definitive agreements with Warner Bros. Discovery to form a 50:50 joint venture company to create a new premium sport offering for the UK and Ireland and to transfer the operating businesses of BT Sport to Warner Bros. Discovery.

It's not about swapping one for the other or replacing one with the other. It's actually additive; we're adding rights and we're adding capability and we're adding the strength of two global companies around what we're doing and that is of increased value

Speaking in a press conference, Andrew Georgiou, president and managing director, Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Europe, comments: Warner Brothers Discovery will take on the operating control and day-to-day functions of the joint venture. As part of that, the BT Sport team, who've done a fantastic job in building what is a premium sports product in the UK market, will join our team and we'll have one single team operating all platforms across both the Eurosport UK business and the BT Sport business.

By bringing together the sports content offering of both BT Sport and Eurosport UK, the JV will have an extensive portfolio 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.

Those customers who access BT Sport through BT directly, and the majority of BT TV customers, are set to now receive discovery , the entertainment streaming service which is home to Eurosport's live and on-demand streaming offer in the UK and Ireland, as part of existing subscriptions.

Continues Georgiou: We have to go through regulatory approval and so until that happens, we're not really at the start line and that's our next focus. But once that happens, then what will happen in the marketplace is pretty simple. Eurosports, UK and BT sports will remain as is for a period of time in what I call phase two. Then beyond that, we plan to bring the sports content from both businesses into a single new brand that we will launch into the marketplace.

Single new brand for bigger service

On the coming single new brand, Discovery Sports senior vice president of content and production, Scott Young, says that following on from Warner Bros.' recent announcement in March that it is going to combine Discovery and HBO Max content into a single product, he expects BT Sport to become part of that proposition.

To the average punter on the high street, who is Discovery? No one's really heard of Discovery and more to the matter, Discovery . So what's the branding of this entity going to be? And that's crucial to the future of this venture

Young explains: As we evolve over time, bringing the BT Sport and Eurosport UK content onto the same product is a really compelling consumer proposition because we have got a lot of fragmentation and we are saying to the consumer, actually, this is one product where you can get a lot of great genres of content in one place that can satisfy very many different members of every household.

I think that is a really big winning formula for us. So that is really exciting, Young notes.

On whether BT Sport should be concerned in any way that the brand loyalty and recognition the broadcaster has in the UK will be undermined by the new Discovery brand, which is less widely recognised in the country, BT Sport chief operating officer, Jamie Hindhaugh, says a resounding no , while Georgiou says: I think consumers are going to get a better value proposition [which] is ultimately what we're trying to do through this experience. It's not about swapping one for the other or replacing one with the other. It's actually additive; we're adding rights and we're adding capability and we're adding the strength of two global companies around what we're doing and that is of increased value. So I hope the fans who currently engage on either platform at the moment will see an improvement in what their perception is of a combined service and offering. That's ultimately our goal.

However, Paolo Pescatore, tech, media and telco analyst at PP Foresight, has a more cautious view on the plan to merge the content of both broadcasters under a single brand: To the average punter on the high street, who is Discovery? No one's really heard of Discovery and more to the matter, Discovery . So what's the branding of this entity going to be? And that's crucial to the future of this venture.

Simon Green [former head of BT Sport] and Jamie Hindhaugh have done a really great job of focusing on the BT Sport product and taking people to the heart of sports, from big screens to the living room and out and about on mobile devices, continues Pescatore. They will have to be very careful on how they manage this new entity; BT Sport is very much in people homes and hearts, but Discovery isn't. This future brand is a huge question mark - not for BT Sport, but for Discovery. Whereas BT Sport is very clear as a sports-focused service, when you look at Discovery, it's been hugely fragmented - with Discovery, Discovery , Eurosport, and now Warner Bro
LINK: https://www.svgeurope.org/blog/headlines/bt-group-forms-a-new-premium-...
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