The streaming only service continues to rock the boat in sports broadcasting
Global OTT streaming subscription service DAZN is said to be in advanced talks with BT to purchase the company's sports arm in a move which would have large scale effects on the sector and also the consumer.
BT have been exploring options to release the BT Sport division for some months now as they intend to focus more heavily on their broadband and 5G activities. If DAZN were to pick up the business they would inherit the broadcasting rights to some cricket, rugby union and some other sporting events, but most importantly, they would get their hands on Premier League football.
The organisation's desire to have the Premier League under their umbrella is something chair of DAZN Kevin Mayer has not been shy about, telling a media conference last week that the company would "love" to have those rights. Mayer also said that there is a "possibility" they could buy all of BT Sport, which he called a "great business"
The End of an Era
DAZN have made no secret of their desire to get into the British football market and pick up Premier League rights in particular, and they could be willing to spend hundreds of millions of pounds to buy up the whole BT Sport division to do it, if needs be.
It is said that an agreement between DAZN and BT could be finalised within the coming weeks, according to those close to the situation. A deal would represent a seismic shift in UK football broadcasting, putting an end to the almost decade long struggle for supremacy between the telecoms giants BT and Sky, and ushering in a new era and a new battle.
DAZN has already laid down a marker by outbidding Sky Italia for the domestic broadcast rights to Serie A in Italy. Taking on BT Sport and its 52 Premier League matches per season would put them in a position to push the envelope in Britain too.
One major complication could be the cross-licensing deal which BT and Sky share, which means that Sky would have to approve any deal. If they view DAZN as too big a threat, they would ultimately be able to block their entry into the market. Since BT first muted the idea of selling its sport division, the two companies have discussed a potential sale and the implications of that. The news of DAZN's interest shouldn't have come as too big a surprise at Sky HQ.
This move would not only change the landscape of sports broadcasting in the country but also fundamentally change the user experience. If they take over BT Sport, all of that content will go online and be available exclusively via live streaming through the DAZN app. While the app is easily accessible on most modern TVs, and the live streaming approach is certainly the future of watching sports, there will be some customers who may have to adapt or miss out on the action.
A football live streaming revolution
Surprisingly quite a few people still watch live football on traditional TV with a BT or Sky set top box. For those fans, the Amazon Christmas schedule have been an annual hassle. They will now have to get used to watching via live stream on a weekly basis with every weekend Premier League match currently owned by BT and all midweek UEFA competitions now only watchable online. For many it will be seen as a long overdue move in the right direction, for others a confusing and annoying chore.
If BT do bow out of the British sports broadcasting market, they will do so having presented Sky with by far its greatest competitor thus far. Since the inception of Sky Sports in 1990, the broadcaster has enjoyed mostly unchallenged dominance for three decades. BT Sport managed to come in and wrestle away a large chunk of Premier League content, and all of the UEFA competitions, positioning itself as the preferable subscription of the two in the eyes of many fans.
If DAZN buy BT Sport, fans will be left wondering how they will take on the responsibility and whether the coverage will be improve or worsen.
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