BT confirms talks over the future of its sports business

Detailed view of the BT Sponsor on the training shirt of Georgia Stanway of England.

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BT has confirmed it is in talks with several companies about the future of its sports broadcasting arm.

The group said it is exploring “ways to generate investment, strengthen our sports business” to “help take it to the next stage in its growth”.

It said early talks are being held ‘with a number of select strategic partners’.

It is not clear if this means selling a stake in BT Sport or a full sale of the division which was launched in 2013.

BT added that the discussion are confidential and “may or may not lead to an outcome”.

The Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday that Amazon, Disney and Dazn are in talks with BT but that an unnamed British broadcaster might also be in the running to buy the sports business.

The telecoms giant did not confirm which firms are involved.

Talks have emerged as Premier League has held discussions with broadcasters, including BT, Sky and Amazon, about scrapping its next domestic media rights auction.

The government is now considering whether to approve a rollover of the current £4.7bn deal, which was secured in 2018.

That sale represented a 10% drop in value and some clubs are concerned there could be another fall if the usual open-market auction begins as planned next month for the three-year cycle between 2022 and 2025.

Broadband push

Reports suggest BT is considering the future of its sports business as the company focuses on replacing copper telephone wires with fibre-optic broadband lines across Britain.

BT’s Openreach lays down and maintains the cables for “full-fibre” internet connections, as well as as operating the associated telephone exchanges. It then sells use of these services to individual internet service providers, who sell access to the public.

Openreach

image copyrightOpenreach

The business recently confirmed plans to build fibre-to-the-premises connections to 20 million homes and offices by the mid-to late-2020s.

It currently reaches 4.1 million homes.

BT said it would “build like fury” after the UK’s telecoms regulator Ofcom decided not to impose price caps on full-fibre connections provided by the firm’s Openreach subsidiary.

Last May, BT announced it would scrap its dividend payment to shareholders until 2022, when it will be reduced by 50% as part of its broadband and 5G push.