Warner Bros. Discovery Plans One-Stop Shop for Sports and Entertainment in U.K. With BT Sport Deal
Warner Bros. Discovery’s international streaming lead JB Perrette has said that an extensive joint venture with BT Sport, which was confirmed on Thursday, ensures that the company won’t be a “one-product, one-content type story,” particularly in the U.K.
The 50-50 sports joint venture between Warner Bros. Discovery and BT Sport has been in the works since February and will see the combination of BT Sport and Eurosport. In a call with journalists on Thursday, Perrette cited a choppy few weeks for the industry — no doubt referencing the handwringing surrounding Netflix’s dip in subscribers and share price — and said, “We love our hand.”
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“We are a multi-product in terms of theatrical distribution, linear, streaming, games, consumer products, so we have a very broad and rich set of products to take to market, and taking that IP and maximizing across those avenues differentiates us,” said Perrette. “Having news, sports and entertainment coming together in one package is incredibly compelling for consumers and … we think Warner Bros. Discovery is in pole position to take advantage of that.”
While HBO Max has yet to launch in the U.K. due to a lengthy output deal between HBO and Comcast-backed pay-TV operator Sky that expires only in 2025, Perrette underlined that a single product will “ultimately house the Discovery product and HBO Max and sports — the whole package in one.”
The offering will be tiered in some markets, he said, “given the premium nature of sports in this portfolio,” but all content will sit under the umbrella of one streaming product and offering.
Perrette noted that while he normally has to explain the “industrial logic” for most deals, the BT Sport JV is “crystal clear in my mind.”
Said Perrette: “It starts with the customer. This is a huge win for British and Irish customers, having access in simpler fashion over time to sports and entertainment.”
BT Sports’ parent company BT plc will receive £93 million ($113 million) from Warner Bros. Discovery and up to approximately £540 million ($659 million) by way of an earn-out if conditions are met. Warner Bros. Discovery will be granted a call option over BT plc’s interest in the new venture. It may exercise this at specified points in the first four years of the venture.
The venture — which will soon receive a bespoke name — will have one of the most extensive portfolios of premium sports rights including UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, the Premier League, Premiership Rugby, UFC, the Olympic Games, tennis Grand Slams featuring the Australian Open and Roland-Garros, cycling Grand Tours including the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia and the winter sports World Cup season.
Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s consumer division, noted that the structure of the JV is straightforward, and comprises a combination of assets. Representatives from both orgs will “steer the big commercial levers in the business,” and the operational side will be run by Warner Bros. Discovery, “which helps us realize all the potential synergies in a larger, more global-style operation rather than a purely U.K. one,” said Allera.
The executive noted that the new format means consumers will have access to “more matches from big teams earlier on” with fewer fallow periods in the year where there is no European football.
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