It was revealed yesterday (Thursday 3rd February) Discovery and BT are forming a joint sporting venture bringing together Eurosport and BT Sport, making Sky Sports shit themselves.
BT was originally in talks with sporting streaming powerhouse DAZN, but in a statement, CEO BT Consumer Marc Allera gave more details behind this new 50/50 venture, saying, “The proposed joint venture with Discovery, Inc. would create an exciting new sports broadcasting entity for the UK and would act as a perfect home for our BT Sport business.
“With a shared ambition for growth, as well as the combination of our world class sports assets along with Discovery’s premium sports and entertainment content, our customers will benefit from even more content in more places.”
It can’t be understated how significant this move is because Discovery will become the second biggest media empire in the world once they complete the merger with WarnerMedia around May/June time; only Disney can look down on them.
Should the deal be completed and approved, the target is to be in operation later this year and will give the new broadcaster three years to be fully running before the new Premier League rights will be available to bid.
I, for one, can’t wait for this new broadcast because the Comcast run Sky will have firmer competition from someone with deeper pockets and for the aforementioned honeypot of the Premier League. For the first time, they could lose out on critical packages, I could see Amazon wanting a more significant piece of the pie, and even DAZN could be brought into the battle.
I wouldn’t be surprised if 3pm times will be up for grabs in 2025, ending the blackout as the organisation and clubs lose money to illegal streams.
Meanwhile, Discovery will want to keep the UEFA Champions League as that’s one of the jewels in BT’s crown, as is Premiership Rugby. Similar to how the Olympics and Grand Slam tennis are jewels in Eurosports crown.
It also makes sense in a streaming battle as BT Sport customers would gain access to Eurosport and other Discovery Entertainment content, and vice-versa, via Discovery+.
This joint sporting broadcaster will be the home of all motorbikes (and should continue to be so) with MotoGP, World Superbikes, British Superbikes and both world and domestic Speedway.
WWE will keep an eye on everything as they’ll continue to air live Raw, NXT and Smackdown under the multi-year deal they signed with BT Sport, whilst the WWE Network will find a home under Discovery+ in a similar agreement to Peacock in the US.
If this deal is completed, Discovery will own the rights to the two biggest wrestling companies. WWE in the UK and AEW in the US because that’s aired on TBS, a network under the WarnerMedia banner.
This brings me onto my wishlist and what I’d do and like to see happen. I want to add that I’d have six sporting channels compared to Sky Sports 11.
Main channel 1 – This would be the A star events like Olympics, Grand Slams, Premier League & Champions League matches, top MotoGP races like the first/last races of the season and British GP, non-PPV UFC fights, WWE programming and top Premiership Rugby/European club rugby matches among others.
Main channel 2 – The channel would include Premiership Rugby/European club rugby, MotoGP and World Superbikes race weekends (depending on schedule), Champions League & Europa League matches, Vanarama National League and their BT Sports Score program.
Main channel 3 – This channel would be home to British Superbikes race weekend and, if needed, World Superbikes, more Champions League and Europa League matches, more Premiership Rugby/European club rugby and Speedway.
I’d include one more main channel and a channel that’s also on free-to-air for highlights of the past week on their other channels and live sports to get people to subscribe and join their network.
The final channel leads me to my wishlist:
Continue The Partnership With ESPN And Have A Dedicated US Sports Channel – The partnership between BT and ESPN has been brilliant with their college sports like American Football and Basketball. They also air the US stations GameDay coverage and other shows like Around The Horn, ESPN FC and Pardon the Interruption. Additionally, with the rights up for grabs, bring the NBA back from Sky and grab NHL to join MBL with new UK shows covering these sports.
Continue With The Aussie Sports – BT has been a terrific home for Aussie sports like the A-League (both men’s and women’s), motorsport and Aussie Rules. I’d grow the relationship further by being the official UK home of Super Rugby Pacific (using Stan Sports transmission).
Grow The BT Sport Films – One of the biggest and most pleasant surprises is the BT Sports Films’ output. It’d be brilliant to up the production and grow to become a dedicated studio similar to ESPN with more films and docuseries throughout the year.
A Friday Evening & Sunday Morning Show – While I’m entirely against a 24-hour news cycle, Sky Sports News is terrific, so don’t waste money and compete. Instead, focus on magazine shows like Rugby Tonight.
This would include a football show with a mixed hybrid of Rugby Tonight & their previous Premier League Tonight previewing the weekend’s football and top topics. While the Sunday show will be similar to Sunday Supplement, journalists cover talking points from all sports, not just football.
Exclusive Premier 15s Rights – To continue the channels “Home of Rugby”, joining the Super Rugby Pacific would be Premier 15s. This would be a must get for me just behind the NBA rights. The money the broadcaster would bring to pump up the women’s game will hopefully have a similar impact as Sky’s WSL deal.
Outbid Sky Sports Collecting More Premier League Packages – Once the Premier League rights are up for grabs in 2025, you bet this sports broadcaster will do everything to outbid Sky on “first picks” of the big games and packages (if we say 10 including 3pm kick-off times).
If this broadcaster collects four, Amazon gets two, and DAZN acquires one, this would leave Sky not the dominant home of the Premier League with three and signal a massive blow.
Bringing In Top On-Air Talent – One thing BT Sport doesn’t have a lot of is top on-air talent. Arguably, there’s a handful across the broadcaster with Jake Humphrey (football), Craig Doyle and the whole rugby team, Suzi Perry (MotoGP), Matt Roberts (from Eurosport’s WSBK/BSB coverage) and Jules Breach (Football and currently Women’s Ashes).
Keeping them is a must but adding more talent is equally important. So once again, go big by getting the queen of sport in Laura Woods from Sky Sports to co-lead the Premier League and lead the Champions League coverage. Reshmin Chowdhury (lead Premier 15s/Olympics/across all sports), Colin Murray (continue EFL highlights/new MLB show), Laura Winter (Premier 15s/MotoGP/Tennis/Tour de France) and Hugh Woozencroft (head PL/CL commentary/ co-lead with Breach on Europa League/one of the hosts of the Friday evening show/new NBA show).
It’s not a big own all of sports wishlist, but I think it’s semi-realistic and gives this new venture the best opportunity to overtake Sky Sports and become just a great sporting broadcaster.
Streaming will play a significant factor, so the advertising saying, “you can watch live sport on the go” and “download shows and watch without wifi later” as big selling points. Additionally, either have this platform separately or as a package with Discovery+ and have different pricing for with/without ads.
For example, after its free month, the ads pricing would be £5 per month (including an optional three free months of Discovery+ before paying £3 per month). The pricing without ads would be, after its free month, £10 per month (including an optional five free months of Discovery+ before paying £3 per month).