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16 Sep 2021
DAZN, the international over-the-top subscription platform, could be interested in purchasing a stake in BT Sport, the UK pay-television sports business owned by prominent telecoms firm BT Group, its chairman Kevin Mayer said yesterday.
Mayer was speaking at the Royal Television Society Convention on Wednesday and, when asked if buying into BT Sport could be a way to add English soccer’s top-tier Premier League to its growing portfolio, he replied: “Possibly.”
“We would love to have EPL, ultimately,” Mayer explained. “How we get there, there are many paths to get there. I'm philosophical about it – whatever makes the most sense. BT Sport is a great business."
BT confirmed in April that it was in talks with several interested parties over a proposed sale of a stake in BT Sport, its pay-television sports business.
The group is seeking to refocus on its internet and broadband arms and has appointed Lazard, an investment bank, to assist with a sale.
It is still not clear what size of stake BT would be looking to sell and at what value.
DAZN was one party reported as being interested when the potential sale was first announced, along with media giants Amazon and Disney.
There has been little in the way of progress made public since April and, asked if talk about a potential deal with DAZN was ongoing, Mayer replied: "It's really quiet."
BT Sport launched in 2013 and has become one of the leading live pay-TV broadcasters, with rights to a variety of top properties, including soccer’s English Premier League and Europe’s Uefa Champions League, rugby union’s English Premiership, the home matches of various international cricket teams, and motorcycling's MotoGP World Championship.
Initially available for free to BT customers, a series of price increases mean it is understood that BT Sport is now profitable.
DAZN, meanwhile, launched in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Japan in 2016, before expanding to Canada in 2017, Italy and the US in 2018, Spain and Brazil in 2019 and then globally in over 200 countries last year, including the UK.
It has spent billions of dollars globally on sports rights and has gradually broadened its portfolio.
Last month, it secured rights in over 170 countries to the highly-anticipated boxing bout between heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk later this month (25 September).
In June, it struck a five-year UK deal with prominent promoter Matchroom, which promotes Joshua’s fights, to replace pay-TV operator Sky as the home of top fights in the country, with at least 16 exclusive Matchroom fights per year in the UK and Ireland covered.
Its rights across Germany, Austria and Switzerland include the German Bundesliga, Italy’s Serie A and Coppa Italia, and France’s Ligue 1, and North American basketball's NBA, while it shows the Premier League in Spain, all major competitions from the Asian Football Confederation in Japan, and the Spanish LaLiga in Italy.
It also has a deal with Extreme E to show the electric SUV motor racing series in many of its global territories.
Last month, the company’s chief executive told the BBC that the intention is to develop DAZN beyond just streaming to become "a sports destination platform" with features like wagering, betting, fantasy sports and commerce.
DAZN's current global subscriber base reportedly stands at around 15 million.