BT Sport on sale in the broadband push
BT is in talks with Amazon, Disney and others to offload a stake in its television business, The telegraph may reveal, as the pandemic casts doubt on the future of sport.
The telecommunications operator has tasked investment bank Lazard to explore a partial sale of BT Sport, which focuses on modernizing Britain’s broadband network.
It is understood that BT is in talks with potential partners including Amazon, Disney and Dazn, an international sports streaming company funded by Sir Leonard Blavatnik, the Ukrainian-born billionaire.
A UK broadcaster is also involved in the talks and could lead the tender, city sources said.
BT has a long-standing partnership with ITV, but has also worked with Channel 4 and the BBC. Any traditional broadcaster could seek to broadcast more high performance football on terrestrial television.
The same source said that Dazn, who recently entered into a sports broadcasting partnership with the Italian equivalent of BT, was “very enthusiastic”.
The talks pit a traditional broadcaster against Dazn, a streaming upstart and two global media giants. Potential private equity partners, including CVC, a major investor in rugby, and Silverlake, a Manchester City shareholder, have reportedly backed off the talks.
A source said: “The world of sports has been rocked by the coronavirus. It is no surprise that BT is rethinking how best to continue to grow its business.”
Several sources said uncertainties over sports rights auctions and the pandemic made it impossible to say whether a deal would go through. Talks are underway without a strict timetable amid turmoil in sports rights as buyers and sellers struggle to predict appetite for live sports after the pandemic.
BT, under CEO Philip Jansen, has cut payments to shareholders to inject billions of pounds into replacing tens of millions of copper telephone wires with faster, more reliable fiber-optic broadband lines.
The Premier League is seeking approval to renew its current £ 4.7bn home TV contract with Sky, BT and Amazon for an additional three years as The telegraph revealed last weekend.