Warner Bros. Discovery, BT Sports Joint Venture Cleared by U.K. Competition Watchdog

Warner Bros. Discovery and BT Group on Friday welcomed the decision by U.K. regulators to approve their planned creation of a joint venture in the U.K. and Ireland.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) unveiled its decision to allow the deal on Friday. BT and Warner Bros. Discovery said this would allow them to complete the creation of the venture “in the coming weeks and for each of their assets to be transferred into the new company.” They said the venture would have “one of the most extensive portfolios of sports rights” in Britain and Ireland.

The CMA had looked at whether the venture “may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.”

“Both BT Sport and Eurosport UK will initially retain their separate brands and product propositions in the market before being brought together under a single brand in the future,” the venture partners said.

Said Andrew Georgiou, future board member of the venture and president and managing director, Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Europe: “Combining the capabilities, portfolios and scale of BT Sport and Eurosport UK will be a big win for fans in the U.K. and Ireland, offering a new destination that will feature all the sport they love in one place. We now look forward to closing the transaction and having the opportunity to further engage all stakeholders in the process of forming and developing the joint venture.”

Added Marc Allera, future chairman of the venture and CEO BT’s Consumer division: “It’s great news that the CMA has approved the new JV that we are forming with Warner Bros. Discovery, combining the very best of BT Sport and Eurosport UK, to create an exciting new offer for live sport programming in the UK. Today is a huge milestone, as we now look toward day one of the new business, which we hope to be in the coming weeks.”

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BT, which has rights deals for the likes of English Premier League soccer, English Premiership Rugby and cricket, said last spring that it wanted to focus on its core telecommunications business and was in negotiations with potential partners over the future of loss-making BT Sport. When the venture talks were first unveiled, the partners said the deal would bring together their “extensive portfolios of premium sports rights, including the Olympic Games, the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, cycling Grand Tours, tennis Grand Slams, the winter sport World Cup season and Premiership Rugby.”