DAZN move closer to £580m BT Sport purchase

Craig Hanson 4 months ago

The streaming service is expected to finalise the deal before the end of January

The ongoing saga over DAZN's intended buyout of BT Sport seems to finally be rumbling towards a conclusion, with sources close to the situation indicating that a deal may be completed within the month. Talks between the two broadcasters began in the summer but apparently stalled in December when Discovery threw their hat in the ring as a potential buyer.

BT is said to be looking to offload its sports division as it hopes to focus on its broadband service. DAZN have been the most talked about party since that position became clear but it is understood that there are other potential bidders and the deal could fall through at any time.

DAZN began life as a live streaming platform primarily focused on boxing but have been desperate to gain ground in the football market for some time. They caused a huge stir when they won the domestic TV rights to Serie A in Italy. Despite some technical issues, they continue to hold those rights, as well as others in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and elsewhere. They even currently hold the rights to live stream games from the FA Cup, League Cup and EFL in those countries after winning overseas rights contracts.

However, the thing they are said to really want is domestic rights to the Premier League in the UK. By winning those rights in Italy they became the first online platform to have the rights to the majority of matches from a domestic league within its home country. DAZN now hope to replicate that model in the UK, taking a huge number of Premier League matches and making them exclusively available via live streaming. 

Sources close to the discussions between DAZN and BT are confident that this deal will go through. Not only would the sale massively impact the balance of power in UK sports broadcasting but also change the way millions of football fans consume the sport they love. It's a change they might have to get used to rather soon. 

It is as yet unclear whether or not BT Sport's current football pundits would make the move to DAZN or whether the live streaming platform would opt to bring in their own people - just one of the many changes to the Premier League viewing experience which could be on the horizon.

DAZN could choose to take advantage of those contracts with big name former players like Rio Ferdinand, Owen Hargreaves and Peter Crouch. It will also acquire the BT Sport department's very own production centre which boasts three high-end TV studios and state of the art equipment for broadcasting.

Through this deal DAZN would be transformed from an afterthought in a UK context to a powerhouse with its own means of production, the rights to the Premier League, UFC, WWE and everything else BT Sport owns in the UK, and millions more subscribers.

The deal is expected to go through sometime this month but with discussions ongoing for more than six months and several false dawns along the way, these latest reports will likely be met with scepticism.

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