BT has appointed investment bank Lazard to explore the potential sale of a stake in its BT Sport division, according to a report in The Telegraph today.
The telecoms giant launched BT Sport in 2013 after poaching the second tranche of UK rights to the Premier League from ESPN and the broadcaster has since gone on to establish itself as a key player in the market next to Sky Sports.
BT has secured a plethora of sporting rights in the years since, including the Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup, the Bundesliga, Ligue 1, top-flight Premiership rugby and WWE wrestling.
Lazard is said to be in talks with three key interested parties - Amazon, which already holds a modest portion of Premier League rights; Disney, which has become a huge streaming player with Disney+ in the last 18 months and also owns ESPN, the broadcaster which BT effectively shunted out of the way in the UK; and DAZN, a fledgling streaming service funded by a Ukrainian billionaire that has been making its name with boxing coverage.
It is understood that BT's preference is to establish a joint venture with a new partner, allowing it to focus investment on infrastructure for fibre and gigabit broadband while still keeping its feet in the content business.
The news of BT's strategy comes as the Premier League looks to scrap its TV rights auction in favour of reaching a continuity agreement with Sky, BT and Amazon for the three seasons from 2022-23 to 2024-25.