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BT confirms talks with rivals over future of sports broadcasting business

Holly Williams, PA Deputy City Editor
·2-min read

Telecoms giant BT has confirmed it is in talks with several companies over the future of BT Sport amid reports that it is considering a sale of the business.

The Daily Telegraph reported late on Wednesday that BT is holding discussions with Amazon, Walt Disney and international sports streaming venture Dazn over a potential stake sale to bring investment into the sports content arm.

But an unnamed British broadcaster is thought to be leading the bids.

BT is understood to be considering a possible full sale of BT Sport, as it looks to focus on its broadband and telecoms business.

A stake sale to bring in outside investment, joint venture or partnership with a media business is also said to be under consideration.

BT did not confirm which firms it is talking to and said talks are at an early stage.

It said: “Further to media reports, BT can confirm that early discussions are being held with a number of select strategic partners, to explore ways to generate investment, strengthen our sports business, and help take it to the next stage in its growth.

“The discussions are confidential and may or may not lead to an outcome.”

It would mark a shift in strategy for BT after ramping up its presence in the sports market over the past decade and spending billions of pounds taking on rival Sky.

The move also comes as the sports world has been hit hard by the pandemic, with lockdowns and restrictions across the globe having a devastating impact on live sports.

BT is focusing its attention on upgrading the UK’s broadband network and building its 5G network and has become less willing to pay hefty prices demanded for sports rights under boss Philip Jansen.

Its wider business has likewise been under pressure due to the pandemic.

The group said in February that underlying earnings fell 5% to £5.6 billion as revenues dropped 7% in the nine months to December 31 after its consumer and enterprise operations were hit by virus restrictions.