DAZN is nearing its objective to acquire BT Sport, with the aim to become a major sports broadcaster within the UK, showcasing Premier League and UEFA Champions League matches.
Citing sources ‘familiar with the matter’, Reuters reports that DAZN is finalising a deal in the region of $800 million (£580m) to acquire BT Sport, the network that has challenged Sky Sports’ dominance of UK sports TV programming.
Last autumn, DAZN began its pursuit of BT Sport, in which media insiders anticipated the OTT sports platform to put up an estimated + £1 billion offer to acquire its target.
BT Group Plc launched the BT Sport network in 2013, as a bolt-on offer aimed to aggressively expand its broadband services that had been challenged by Sky and new UK incumbents.
At the time of its launch, BT Sport had sealed a £1 billion media rights deal to become the exclusive broadcaster of UEFA Champions League matchdays – an exclusive arrangement that was renewed from 2019-to-2024 for £1.2 billion.
Though successful in its objective of securing new broadband customers, in 2020 BT Group governance appointed investment bank Lazard to review options on the sale of its sports arms that had recorded losses of + £2 billion.
The buyout of BT Sport would represent DAZN’s biggest M&A investment to date. The OTT platform is backed by Access Industries, the investment fund of British American entertainment tycoon Sir Leonard Blavatnik.
A venture backer of DAZN, Access Industries acquired the OTT business outright in 2016, financing the company on its mission to become the “Spotify for global sports streaming”.
Boasting over 11 million global customers, DAZN has expanded its OTT platform across the continents of North America (US and Canada), Europe (Italy, DACH, Spain), South America (Brazil) and Asia (Japan).
In December 2020, DAZN made its long-awaited UK debut, partnering with Matchroom Boxing to offer unlimited fight content for £1.99 per month – with a view to aggressively expand its sports media rights within the coming months.
However, its UK expansion plans were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced Access Industries to invest a further $1 billion to maintain DAZN afloat.
Access Industries is reported to favour a buyout of BT Sport, as a means to provide DAZN a platform for a future IPO on the London Stock Exchange.