DAZN may have just walked into its home to see its partner in the throes of passion with another suitor — and it could shelve a big deal because of it.
According to Financial Times, DAZN may pull its £600 million deal with BT as it was revealed the latter was in separate talks with Discovery the whole time. Earlier this year, FT reported DAZN was in “advanced talks” to purchase BT Group, which in turn would give them BT Sport — and English Premier League rights. Even further back in July, this deal was rumored to happen but didn’t materialize, either.
The deal with Discovery may be more appealing to BT as it seems to be a joint venture rather than an outright acquisition. This would allow BT to maintain its presence in broadcasting while being able to focus on its telecom business.
Currently, DAZN owns the overseas broadcasting rights to a number of different domestic and international sports leagues, including the big four American sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL,) multiple soccer federations (UEFA, FIFA, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, etc.) as well as sports that are popular overseas like handball, darts, rugby, cricket, and more. They also own global rights to the UEFA Women’s Champions League which they purchased back in June. Owning the rights to the UK’s most popular league that participates in the UK’s most popular sport would’ve been a huge win, but business infidelity might lead DAZN to look elsewhere.
Securing rights to major sports is right in line with what former DAZN (and ESPN) head and current Meadowlark Media CEO John Skipper said regarding sports rights — you can’t build a platform simply on secondary and tertiary sports. “At DAZN we tried secondary sports and tertiary sports, thinking ‘they can’t work on pay-tv, but there are 17 million hardcore badminton fans,” Skipper said to Bloomberg. “We just gotta get 9% to sign up and you’ve got 300,000 people.’ None of that stuff works. What works is top of the pyramid rights that people have to see.” With this proposed move, DAZN is skipping right to the very top of the sports pyramid in the UK to bring football to its airwaves