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BT Sport and Eurosport to merge after agreeing £540m deal with Warner Bros

BT Group has agreed to form a new sports joint venture with Warner Bros Discovery in the UK and Ireland.

The telecoms giant confirmed the deal as it also said the trade was “on track” despite declining revenue over the past year. In February, BT said it was in exclusive negotiations with the US media giant after completing a lengthy review of its BT Sport operation.

He has confirmed that he will now form a 50-50 joint venture which will bring together BT Sport and Eurosport.

The business could see events such as the Olympics, Premier League football, Champions League football, Grand Slam tennis, cycling Grand Tours and Premiership rugby all on one entity.

BT Sport customers would have access to sports and entertainment content from Discovery Sport, and vice-versa, including the Discovery+ app.

Eurosport, meanwhile, has the rights to the Olympics, Grand Slam tennis, cycling Grand Tours and the Winter Sports World Cup season, among others.

BT (pictured, main presenter Jake Humphrey left and pundits Rio Ferdinand, center, and Joe Cole, right) are set to merge with Eurosport after agreeing a £540m deal with Warner Bros Discovery

BT Sport have Champions League rights

Discovery Sport has the rights to the Olympic Games

BT Sport customers (who have the rights to the Champions League, left) should have access to sports (Olympics, right) and entertainment content from Discovery Sport and vice versa

BT said the two brands will initially remain separate but will eventually be united “under one brand in the future”.

The London-listed company said it would receive £93m from Warner Bros Discovery immediately, and up to £540m if future conditions are met.

The confirmation came as BT told shareholders it had met expectations with a 2% rise in profit to £7.6billion for the year ending March, with cost savings offsetting the decline in income.

BT said it would extend its cost savings plans to save £2.5bn by the end of 2025, changing previous targets of £2bn in savings by 2024.

The cost cuts have helped the company absorb some inflationary pressures, he added.

Eurosport, meanwhile, already has the rights to broadcast Grand Slam tennis

Eurosport, meanwhile, already has the rights to broadcast Grand Slam tennis

Eurosport also has rights to the Olympics - pictured is Sky Brown, who won an Olympic bronze medal aged 13 at the Tokyo Olympics last year

Eurosport also has rights to the Olympics – pictured is Sky Brown, who won an Olympic bronze medal aged 13 at the Tokyo Olympics last year

Revenue for the year fell 2% to £20.8bn, due to lower sales from its businesses and global operations, although the business benefited from a strong performance from its Openreach network activity.

It added that its consumer business, which focuses on the EE mobile brand, returned to growth last quarter.

Chief Executive Philip Jansen said: “BT Group again delivered a strong operational performance thanks to the efforts of our colleagues across the business.

“We have completed the sports joint venture with Warner Bros. Discovery to enhance our content offering to customers, aligning our business with a new global content powerhouse.

“Separately, we have strengthened our strategic partnership and key customer relationship with Sky, having extended our reciprocal channel supply agreement over the next decade and agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for extend our co-supply agreement.”

Conrad Wiacek, Head of Sports Analytics at GlobalData – a leading data and analytics company – said sports mail in February that the proposal is the first tangible threat to Sky since its inception.

“Discovery’s creation of a joint venture with BT Sport ahead of a possible purchase will not only change the shape of sports broadcasting, it is a legitimate threat to Sky’s dominant position in the UK sports broadcasting market. UK and Europe,” he said.

“Discovery, which already owns global media rights to the Olympics, is now likely to take control of a package of UK Premier League rights, as well as exclusive rights to show the UEFA Champions League at the UK with a combined value of $1bn (£735m) annually.

It has been predicted that Discovery will now try to buy the Premier League rights

It has been predicted that Discovery will now try to buy the Premier League rights

BT/Discovery/Eurosport combo deal could be real threat to Sky Sports

BT/Discovery/Eurosport combo deal could be real threat to Sky Sports

The switch from Discover and BT could potentially change the shape of sports broadcasting

The switch from Discover and BT could potentially change the shape of sports broadcasting

“With Comcast now owning Sky and Discovery taking BT Sport, the UK could become the first battleground in the US giants’ plans to become the dominant European sports broadcaster.

“With Sky already having an established presence in several European territories and BT Sport holding the rights to the Champions League in the UK until 2024, Discovery will seek to maximize subscribers through its Discovery+ platform and Olympics coverage.

“However, the big loser here is DAZN, which has been trying to establish a presence in the UK ahead of a potential IPO.

“Without BT’s subscriber numbers, the ‘Netflix of Sports’ now faces an uncertain future given that the platform has been largely funded by billionaire Sir Leonard Blavatnik so far.

“Without a presence in one of the largest sports rights markets in the world, the viability of the entire platform may now be in question.”