BT Sport Is Rebranding As TNT Sports

Six months after the Warner Bros. Discovery and BT Sport joint venture was approved, we finally got our first look into its future as WBD has unveiled their rebranding of BT Sport and will now be called TNT Sports.

The rebrand will commence in July this year, in line with the 2023/24 Premier League season. However, the Discovery-owned Eurosport will stay separate until after the 2024 Paris Olympics, with an eye on 2025.

Whilst a highly popular and well-known network in the US and Latin America, the issue is that TNT (known as Turner Network Television) is a name that’s meaningless to UK sports viewers ā€“ especially to the likes of BT and Sky ā€“ but this is a short-term issue.

One major issue that has yet to be discussed is BT Sports customers and pricing. BT’s consumer chief and JV chair Marc Allera stated that while there are no plans on price increases for now, “it’s impossible to offer guarantees.” WBD Sports Europe president Andrew Georgiou added, “the pricing is independent of the name change.”

A price increase is incredibly likely. It depends on what WBD do with their TNT programming to make it worth it. The elephant in the room will be around Virgin Media and Sky customers.

UK sports fans should be excited by this as Warner Brothers Discovery know what they’re doing when it comes to broadcasting sport, and given the deep pockets of CEO David Zaslav (remember Discovery brought Warner Bros, not the other way around) they’ll want to battle Sky on some rights.

What’s Next?

This is getting more speculative on my side, but I’m sure the execs are going through all the programming and contracts under BT and Eurosport and figuring out what’s worth keeping.

Like DC and Superman’s importance to WB in terms of movies, the Premier and Champions League will be equally important to keep and grow for TNT.

Premier League Season Launch 2022-23 at the Forest Sports Zone, NG7 6LD Nottingham 2AUG22 – Copyright Phil Greig / greigphoto 2022

It can’t be understated how vital Discovery+ will be for TNT Sports, and if they get it right, this will be in the top three of UK subscriptions.

What Could We See?

The current domestic TV Premier League rights end in 2025, so when a new round of package deals is up for grabs either this summer or next year (I don’t know how it works), it will be their chance to show intent and push Sky.

It would be a massive win if they could grab Friday Night, Saturday Lunch and Saturday Evening kick-off packages.

Especially the financial pressures of solely having the Champions League will help with Prime Video and BBC hosting games from 2024-27.

Additionally, this could be WBD’s first chance how they broadcast the Premier League, so when the rights are up in the US, then they put in a solid challenge to NBC.

TNT should continue and expand on BT’s “home of rugby” slogan and air domestic and European competitions. The two ways to do this would be first to buy out Premiership Rugby’s streaming service PRTV Live.

This would mean having their headline round games on TV and the rest of the round of matches exclusively on Discovery+. This could make them gain more subscribers if fans of those clubs could watch every game from home under one app.

Secondly, following the success of the WSL being Sky and how it’s presented, the same presentation should be given to the Women’s Premier 15s. Plus, the 2023/24 season will be a new version of the competition with new teams, so why not have it on a new channel? Similar to the WSL, keep a joint partnership with the BBC to help grow the game.

Once Eurosport is embedded, TNT Sports will have winter sports, cycling, motorsport and, more importantly, the Olympics (even though we all watch the BBC).

Luckily for motorcycle racing fans, British Superbike organisers MSVR agreed a seven-year deal with Discovery before the 2021 season, so it will stay under the broadcaster until the 2027 campaign. Meanwhile, BT Sport and Dona signed a four-year deal ahead of their 2021 season, but that will end after the final race in 2024, but I expect that to be renewed with TNT.

As for anything new, I won’t be surprised if getting the NBA coverage rights is a top priority (either as a sole broadcaster or joint with Sky/BBC). The station could simply use the TNT US coverage, so hopefully, we can see Shaq and Charles Barkley on UK screens.

I also hope TNT Sports will keep the ESPN shows like College GameDay, College Football, Around the Horn, and Pardon the Interruption. If they got the NBA back, they could bring back The Jump.

Discovery+

As mentioned above, I firmly believe the streaming service will play an essential role for TNT Sports.

Continue the live broadcasts on TV and the app simultaneously, but the exclusives will be the clincher to increase subscriptions.

Getting all the Prem Rugby rounds games available exclusively will be a huge boost.

Other exclusives include all BSB rounds, with top track rounds also shown on TV, like Round 1, Donnington Park and Brands Hatch GP rounds, Showdown Oulton Park GP and the final round.

Other sports to be exclusively shown on the streamer ā€“ Aussie Rules, Badminton, Esports, Fishing, Tennis (besides slams), Speedway, Cycling (besides Tour de France), Winter Sports, Snooker and Sailing.

Meanwhile, there must be some magazine shows (that could also air on TV to fill time) similar to Rugby Tonight, Around the Horn, etc.

The top one I’d pitch would be a sports journalist round table discussion similar to Sunday Supplement. I’d also have this show on Sunday mornings, but it’ll all the top sporting stories, not just football.

The other would be to test out a UK version of Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption.

These are some of my thoughts on TNT Sports. Please let me know what you think.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: