ITV leads race to buy BT Sport as talks kick off with Amazon and Disney among other potential suitors
ITV was last night said to be among bidders for BT Sport after a ‘for sale’ sign was hoisted above the channel.
BT yesterday confirmed it is in talks with various parties over the future of the business, with a full sale possibly on the cards.
ITV is among them and could take a partial stake in BT Sport, the Daily Telegraph reported.
BT yesterday confirmed it is in talks with various parties over the future of Champions League broadcaster BT Sport
That could see some Premier League and Champions League football matches shown on free-to-watch television again.
Other potential buyers include Amazon, Disney, private equity firms and Dazn, the sports video streaming service owned by Ukrainian billionaire Len Blavatnik.
After the announcement BT shares rose 2.5 per cent, or 3.95p, to 163.8p – their highest level since January 2020.
BT confirmed that ‘early discussions’ were being held but added: ‘The discussions are confidential and may or may not lead to an outcome.’ It is not known how much BT Sport is worth.
However, after years of losses, it is said to have broken even and become profitable thanks to price hikes.
Access to BT Sport without broadband costs £25 per month. The channel was launched in 2013 under former BT boss Gavin Patterson and was quickly labelled an ‘indulgent vanity project’ by critics.
But Patterson argued that bundling BT Sport for free with broadband packages was needed to stop an exodus of customers to rivals such as Sky.
The company has splashed £9billion on expensive rights to broadcast top-flight football over the past eight years, audaciously snatching rights to the Champions League from Sky and also securing some rights for the Premier League.
The decision to sell the division sees current boss BT boss Philip Jansen firmly draw a line under the Patterson era.
Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said ‘the attempt to take on Sky on its own turf has failed’.
James Barford, head of telecoms at Enders Analysis, said a potential sale of BT Sport was likely part of Jansen’s strategy to ‘focus on BT’s main business – broadband’.
He added: ‘BT is first and foremost a telecoms company.’