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Discovery/BT Sport tie-up could be ‘first tangible threat to Sky’

Analyst Conrad Wiacek suggests the UK may become the first battle ground in the battle to become the dominant European sports broadcaster

The planned joint venture between Discovery and BT Sport could be the first legitimate threat to Sky Sports since it first began broadcasting, according to one analyst.

Conrad Wiacek, head of sport analysis at GlobalData, says the planned partnership between Discovery and BT will change the face of sports broadcasting in the UK.

The deal will likely give Discovery access to the English Premier League for the first time, as BT Sport currently owns one of the rights packages, as well as all UK rights for the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference.

“With Comcast now owning Sky, and Discovery taking on BT Sport, the UK may become the first battle ground in the US giants’ plans to become the dominant European sports broadcaster,” said Wiacek.

“With Sky having an established presence in multiple European territories already, and BT Sport owning the Champions League rights in the UK until 2024, Discovery will be looking to maximise subscribers through its Discovery+ platform and Olympic coverage.”

Wiacek added that the big loser is DAZN, which has again failed to enter the UK football rights market as it looks ahead to a possible IPO.

“Without BT’s subscriber numbers, the ‘Netflix of Sport’ now faces an uncertain future given the platform has been largely funded by billionaire Leo Blavatnik up to this point,” he said. |Without a presence in one of the world’s largest sports rights markets, the viability of the entire platform may now be in question.”