The planned creation of a sports broadcasting joint venture between BT and Warner Bros Discovery, which was announced in early May, is to be investigated by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the government department has announced. The probe, which will focus on whether the creation of the JV will result in a “substantial lessening of competition” will accept comments until 17 June and is set to make an initial decision by 28 July. The creation of the joint venture would bring together the BT Sport and Eurosport channels under a single roof.
“This was expected and it’s normal practice in this context of rights assets,” notes industry analyst Paolo Pescatore, founder of PP Foresight. “The big concern is whether retail prices will increase, so the parties will need to provide assurances that won’t happen. Both services [BT Sport and Eurosport] are widely available on multiple platforms, including Sky, NowTV and of course BT, and the CMA will want to be sure that BT will not get any preferential treatment once the JV is formed. Another consideration is the future strategic direction of the joint venture, with BT expected to exit at some point in the future. I’m not expecting major concerns, but there are legitimate questions to ask about pricing and platform availability. I am not expecting any major problems at this point,” stated Pescatore. GOV.UK