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Viaplay in talks to acquire Premier Sports

Acquiring Premier Sports would give the streaming service a linear option, as the company currently broadcasts a number of pay-TV channels in the UK on Sky and Virgin Media

Just a day after TVBEurope reported DAZN is in talks to acquire Eleven Sports, Viaplay is also said to be considering a bid for Premier Sports as it looks to ramp up its operations in the UK.

Viaplay is set to launch its new UK streaming service in the second half of 2022.

It has secured already the rights to a number of sports, including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland men’s football matches, as well as NHL ice hockey, ISU figure skating and speed skating, World Athletics Continental Tour Gold and World Athletics Indoor Tour.

Unlike other sports streamers, Viaplay will also offer subscribers entertainment content.

According to Bloomberg, Viaplay is hoping to agree a deal to acquire Premier Sports this month.

Acquiring Premier Sports would give the streaming service a linear option, as the company currently broadcasts a number of pay-TV channels on Sky and Virgin Media.

The report also suggests other unnamed companies are eyeing Premier Sports as a potential acquisition.

Neither Viaplay or Premier Sports have commented on the report.

With the news of both DAZN and Viaplay looking to acquire their competitors, media analyst Paolo Pescatore tells TVBEurope the sports streaming market is now seeing some form of a reality check. “While competition seems to be healthy, battle for rights and subscribers is leading to a hugely fragmented landscape,” he adds. “This coupled with a lack of a diversified business model is placing further pressure on providers. Sports owners will always seek to drive the value of their prized assets. Moving forward they need tor rethink how best to achieve this to avoid damaging their brand and asset.”

The possible M&A activity comes at a crucial time given the cost of living crisis is having a profound impact on all companies, adds Pescatore. He predicts this will cause a domino effect and inevitably have a knock on effect on all operations and subscriber’s willingness to sign up or continue paying for a subscription that is no longer needed.

“Prices are all heading in the wrong direction; no one is immune, with consumers all feeling the pinch and tightening their belts. This will drive users to consider downgrading, or signing up to a cheaper service. Rising costs will fuel switching and in some cases more premium offerings at affordable prices. A diversified business model offering a range of pricing options (subscription, a la carte and increasingly advertising) will resonate with a broad range of users,” he continues.

During these unprecedented times with uncertainty the new certainty, scale will help improve margins says Pescatore, which is why companies are focusing on consolidation and corporate activity as a viable strategic option.

“Also, you cannot ignore the timing given recent events such as the BT Sport/Discovery joint venture, streamers acquiring more rights to show live sports as well as the CMA investigation into ‘cartel like behaviour’. While it might be pure coincidence, expect to see greater focus on sports broadcasters over coming years; in particular among the big tech,” he concludes.