BT Group revealed it was in early-stage discussions regarding a number of potential partnerships to drive growth at its BT Sport unit, following speculation by several media outlets.

The UK incumbent issued a brief statement confirming it was exploring options for the broadcasting business, though emphasised there was no guarantee of talks bearing fruit.

It stated it was talking to “a number of select strategic partners” about ways to “generate investment, strengthen our sports business and help take it to the next stage in its growth”.

The Telegraph reported BT was exploring the sale of a stake in the sports TV channel to help it focus on enhancing broadband coverage in the UK. The newspaper named streaming platform Dazn, Amazon, The Walt Disney Company and a domestic TV broadcaster as potential partners.

Beyond a desire to boost its fibre deployment, external factors may also be at play. BBC News reported The Premier League is discussing options for the next issue of rights to domestic football matches with current holders, of which BT is one, while there are apparently also broader concerns over the future of live sporting events due to Covid-19 (coronavirus).

In a research note, Jefferies noted BT had “struggled to define” the contribution of the sports channel to group profitability since it launched in 2013, noting BT Sport’s direct customer base was in “sharp decline”, with less than 2 million users today around half of its peak in 2016.