Disney is looking to expand its direct to consumer business in the United Kingdom as it is in talks to purchase BT Sports, which holds the rights to major sporting events, including the Premier League and Champions League.
According to the Daily Telegraph, BT has engaged investment bank, Lazard, to explore a partial sale of its sports television arm. Disney, Amazon, and DAZN are the main companies involved in the discussions.
Due to the speculation, BT issued the following statement:
Further to media reports, BT can confirm that early discussions are being held with a number of select strategic partners, to explore ways to generate investment, strengthen our sports business, and help take it to the next stage in its growth. The discussions are confidential and may or may not lead to an outcome.
It is not clear if this means selling a stake in BT Sport or a full sale of the division, which was launched in 2013 when it purchased the channel from Disney’s ESPN. Disney is already in a deal with BT Sports, providing access to select ESPN content.
Talks have emerged as the UK soccer Premier League has held discussions with broadcasters, including BT, Sky and Amazon, about scrapping its next domestic media rights auction.
Disney has been pushing its direct to consumer business worldwide and already operates ESPN+ in the United States and will be launching Star+ in Latin America with live sports in June.
Should Disney be successful in purchasing BT Sport, this could likely lead to a rebranding to ESPN, and a streaming bundle with Disney+, similar to what they do in the US and will be doing in Latin America.
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Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.