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DAZN set to buy BT Sport

UK-based sports streaming service DAZN is reportedly in the final stages of acquiring Britain’s BT Sport in an estimated $800m deal that will give it access to rights to English Premier League and UEFA Champions League matches. The US-based Discovery Inc, which owns the pan-European sports network Eurosport, had offered to form a joint venture with BT, something the telecoms company was considering as an alternative to a sale.

One obstacle to a deal has been securing agreements with primary football rights holders as well as with Comcast’s Sky and Virgin Media, which distribute BT Sport’s programming in Ireland and the UK. 

DAZN owner Len Blavatnik has sought to capitalize on the enduring popularity of sports, bankrolling a streaming service that would give fans around the world access to live events. DAZN reportedly has 11m subscribers. BT Sport has some 5m viewing households in the UK and Ireland. 

In 2019, DAZN reported a post-tax loss of $2.15bn, attributed to continuing investment in its platform and the introduction of the service in new markets in Spain and Brazil. About $1.7bn of the spending was to acquire sports rights. Blavatnik’s Access Industries stepped in to provide more than $1bn in loans and other investments to fund operations. 

If the BT Sport deal is completed, it may lead to an IPO of DAZN in London later in 2022.