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Premier League to stream on Discovery+ as BT Sport rebrands as TNT Sports

DTC service to become exclusive streaming home of rebranded UK sports channel.

18 Jul 2023 Josh Sim

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  • BT Sport app to be shut down later this year
  • New premium Discovery+ subscription tier with TNT Sports to cost UK£29.99 per month

TNT Sports’ live coverage of Premier League soccer in the UK will be streamed on Discovery+ as part of the newly launched joint venture between BT and Warner Bros Discovery (WBD).

All four BT Sport channels have been rebranded, while Discovery+ will become the exclusive streaming home of TNT Sport in the UK, replacing the dedicated BT Sport app which will be shut down later this year.

TNT Sports will be available as part of a new premium Discovery+ subscription tier that also includes Eurosport and WBD’s other entertainment offerings. The UK£29.99 (US$39) a month price tag is the same amount as the former BT Sport monthly pass.

Subscribers will also be able to access the plan on Sky and BT TV, allowing fans to seamlessly switch from their linear channels to the application using the same set-top box.

“When we look at what really drags audiences into sport, it’s the live broadcast of that sport,” said Scott Young, senior vice president, content and production, WBD Sports Europe. “The philosophy we looked at is ‘live to live’ as much as possible.

“Ultimately we want to keep live sport at the forefront, and then Discovery+ will eventually become the home of where you can stay with our partners as they continue on, for as long as we believe it’s worthwhile broadcasting, or even preview shows that will start on Discovery+ and then crossover onto our live channels.

“Eventually, you will see us go directly from our Premier League broadcast on a Saturday morning and afternoon, directly into Premiership Rugby.”

TNT’s on-screen talent roster is largely similar to BT Sport’s, with the headline addition of Laura Woods to present Uefa Champions League coverage and major boxing bouts. The channel will also inherit BT Sport’s rights portfolio, although it is Premier League soccer that will continue to be a key subscription driver.

Andrew Georgiou, president and managing director of WBD Sports Europe said the Premier League would remain a “key part” of its programming but refused to be drawn on reports that the league is set to increase the number of matches available for domestic live broadcast in its next rights cycle.

TNT Sports shares the domestic Premier League rights with Sky Sports and Amazon Prime, but English soccer’s top flight hopes for a more lucrative deal by increasing inventory and tempting the likes of Apple, DAZN and Disney to make bids when the auction starts later this year.

“It’s too hard to speculate on that,” said Georgiou. “We don’t know what the packaging looks like. Once the packages come out, we’ll make a call then.

“How they split it [the games] up between the timeslots, with everything else, is a very important part of how those packages are put together. How we think about what we’d like, it very much depends on that and how they couple the timeslots with the picks, it’s a really difficult thing to say ‘we want more, we want less’ because we don’t know how they’ll be packaged.”

SportsPro says…

BT Sport spent the years before the deal with Warner Bros Discovery adding features into its digital platform around the live Premier League match streams – these included Stadium Experience and Manager Mode, which offered users alternative viewing experiences. It remains to be seen how many of those will be brought into Discovery+ given Young said the focus will be on the live event and the company wanting to make a clear break with the BT brand. One recent addition to Discovery+ that will serve TNT Sports’ Premier League coverage well is the timeline feature that allows users to jump back to key moments.

These bells and whistles are nice, but ultimately this joint venture was all about bolstering Warner Bros Discovery’s UK sports offering and this is reflected in the price point. Currently, a month of Discovery+ costs UK users UK£6.99 (US$9), but the addition of BT Sport’s rights portfolio justifies the price increase. Essentially consumers who move from the BT App to Discovery+ are getting access to Eurosport’s live content and the streaming service’s entertainment at the same price point they paid before.

It is unsurprising that the Warner Bros Discovery leadership team were tight-lipped on the Premier League rights, but it would be a shock for the media giant to essentially acquire the second biggest sports broadcaster in the UK and then give up on the property that is essential to success in the market. More games being on offer is an opportunity TNT Sports should be jumping on as it enters the post-BT era. 

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