Executives at BT Sport and Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) have been setting out what their new joint venture will look like.
BT has built itself a reputation as an innovator in technologies through its various apps and projects such as the recent direct-to-home 8K Premiership Rugby test. Sports senior vice president of content and production Scott Young told a press briefing this would continue.
“The last thing we want to do is stop any of that innovation. Innovation through sports broadcasting and in front of us that have spoken previously is not just through technology, but it’s by way of the rights that we acquire and how we deliver those rights to people on the right platforms and how we put this together under one sport ecosystem.
“So, I think the innovation is not just around technology, but that will definitely continue, but it’s about how we build a sports platform that is absolutely premium to our audience.”
On Thursday it was announced that WBD would take over the operations of BT Sport and run the premium channel alongside its existing Eurosport channels. However, Jamie Hindhaugh, chief operating officer, BT Sport, said that one change would be the use of the licensed ESPN branding. The dedicated channel will now be known as BT Sport 4 though Hindhaugh promised a “continued relationship” with the Disney-owned sports network.
There will be no immediate change to the branding for either channel, though the medium-term expectation is that the two operations will unite under a single brand. Shortly after the deal completes subscribers to Discovery+ will be given BT Sport access, while those viewing the sports channel will gain Discovery+.
‘The ultimate vision is a single digital destination for all the content that we’ve got across our combined platforms,” said Andrew Georgiou, President and Managing Director, Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Europe.
Already a new agreement with Sky is in place that takes distribution of the JV’s combined sports content through until 2030.
Although there is an Olympic tender underway, the Olympic rights in the UK market are currently part of the Eurosport UK portfolio including the upcoming Paris 2024 Games that will continue to be available on Eurosport and Discovery. Football would also remain an important part of the proposition.