In Focus

‘Netflix of sport’ DAZN in advanced talks to buy BT Sport 

Deal would see the streaming company acquire Premier League rights

Streaming service DAZN is in advanced talks to buy BT’s pay TV sports channels and an agreement could be struck “within weeks”, the FT said. After nearly ten years of “rampant competition” between Sky and BT in the sports and broadband markets, a deal for BT Sport would “reshape the UK broadcasting landscape”. 

News of the talks saw shares in BT jump by 2.7% yesterday, the London Evening Standard reported. A spokesperson for the telecoms company said it was continuing to explore options for BT Sport and all options were on the table.

A deal to buy BT Sport would “significantly expand” DAZN’s reach in Britain and hand the company rights to Premier League matches, the Standard said.

What is DAZN?

DAZN – which is pronounced “Dazone” – launched in August 2016 and expanded to 200 countries, including the UK, in May last year, The Guardian reported. Dubbed the “Netflix of sport”, it is owned by billionaire Leonard Blavatnik and based in London. 

The subscription service “splashed the cash” and monopolised the TV rights for combat sports like boxing and UFC, as well as NFL, talkSPORT said. It has spent big money on securing boxing rights and this year agreed a “seismic deal” with Matchroom Boxing and Eddie Hearn worth “well into nine figures”. 

Premier League is the goal

When it expanded last year DAZN’s initial focus was on boxing, but executive chairman John Skipper, a former president of ESPN, said the key to cracking the UK was having Premier League rights, The Guardian reported. “The UK is a logical DAZN market,” he said. “In terms of the rights in this country, obviously you need Premier League rights, boxing is very important here and tennis is very important here.”

Chairman Kevin Mayer also hinted that the company was interested in buying football rights, Deadline reported. “I would love to see the Premier League on DAZN in the future,” Mayer said at the RTS Convention last week. “It’s a huge market, incredibly popular sport, high-quality experience, of course we’d want that.”

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