Various press releases by the joint venture (JV) announced that “Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) will be granted a call option over BT plc’s interest in the JV, exercisable at specified points in the first four years of the JV” and that “over time, the intention is to launch a new sports brand in the market and present this combined sports offering together with an entertainment offering from WBD.”
With rumors abound before the JV that BT wanted to exit sports broadcasting and focus on ultra-fast broadband and 5G mobile networks, the JV provides BT with an exit strategy, while it strengthens WBD’s sports and entertainment programming and streaming proposition in the UK and Irish markets for consumers.
Therefore, once the JV was completed, the writing was on the wall for the BT brand (and Eurosport) hereafter.
TNT Sports is a major brand for WBD in Latin America, broadcasting premium sports in Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and Mexico, while TNT is a popular network in the US, broadcasting numerous high-profile sports leagues.
In Argentina, the TNT Sports channel was launched in 2017 after acquiring the rights to Argentine soccer’s top-tier Primera División.
In Chile, the Canal de Futbol (CDF) suite of channels was rebranded as TNT Sports at the start of 2021. The CDF HD channel became TNT Sports HD, while CDF Premium and CDF Basico channels were called TNT Sports 2 and TNT Sports 3, respectively.
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In Brazil, the TNT Sports brand was launched at the start of 2021. However, TNT Sports did not feature as a linear channel but as a production label and subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) platform.
TNT Sports content was broadcast on linear channels TNT and Space, while the SVOD platform Esporte Interativo Plus (EI Plus) was rebranded to ‘Estadio TNT Sports.’
In Mexico, the TNT Sports brand was launched in mid-2021 with a similar strategy to that of Brazil. TNT Sports did not feature as a linear TV channel but is offered through pay-TV channels TNT and Cinemax, and through the SVOD platform HBO Max.
In the US, cable channel TNT is strongly associated with the NBA, having broadcast the league for over 30 years. TNT’s sports coverage also includes basketball’s NCAA March Madness and ice hockey’s NHL.
Table 1: TNT/TNT Sports rights
|COUNTRY||CHANNEL(S)||KEY SPORTS RIGHTS|
|USA||TNT||NBA, NHL, NCAA Basketball|
|Argentina||TNT Sports||Argentine Primera Division|
|Brazil||TNT, Space||NBA, UEFA Champions League|
|Chile||TNT Sports HD, TNT Sports 2, TNT Sports 3 HD||Chilean Primera Division|
|Mexico||TNT, Cinemax||UEFA Champions League|
For now, only BT Sport will rebrand as TNT Sports. Eurosport will remain distinct and is expected to rebrand in the UK and Ireland after the Paris 2024 Olympics, with the two channels coming together under the TNT Sports umbrella. However, Eurosport is not going to change its brand in Europe.
With the likelihood that WBD will acquire BT plc’s interest in the JV at a future date, the dropping of the BT brand was conceivable. Additionally, with the JV stating “the intention is to launch a new sports brand in the market”, this effectively meant the discontinuation of the Eurosport name at a later date.
With TNT Sports already part of WBD’s family of brands, and present in numerous countries around the world, the TNT Sports name offers the company a clean slate in the UK and Ireland and brand consistency globally that it desires.