UK subscription TV network BT Sport is to drop broadcast rights to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), as well as the National Basketball Association (NBA) after being put off by the package valuation.
The decision comes a week after the company was outbid by the Andrea Radrizzani-owned Eleven Sports for the rights to Italian soccer’s Serie A, highlighting BT Sport’s increasing focus on maintaining its most valuable rights rather than expanding with peripheral opportunities.
BT will keep hold of the NBA until the end of October, when the new season starts, while the UFC rights remain in place until the end of the year.
BT, which still holds exclusive Champions League rights as well as the secondary Premier League package, is spending UK£1 billion per year on its broadcast rights.
Marc Allera, head of BT Consumer, said of the UFC and NBA situations: “It’s like a big football club in the transfer window. If a striker is worth £50m I won’t pay £70m for him. At the wrong price, everything is expendable.”
Eleven has also been linked to a move for the UFC rights.