BT PLC (LON:BT.A) has seen its BT Sports arm lose another set of broadcast rights after the company withdrew from negotiations this weekend to show NBA basketball games and UFC fights, according to media reports.
The news follows BT Sport's failure to secure the rights to broadcast Italian Serie A football matches after BT lost a bidding war to Eleven Sports earlier in this month.
Eleven Sport, which is owned by Leeds United chairman Andrea Radizzani and run by the former head of TV at BT Marc Watson, is due to launch two channels in the UK in August this year, with UFC set to be among the programme offering.
BT Sport has screened live UFC coverage since 2013, renewing their agreement in 2016. BT spends around £1bn-a-year on its sports coverage, which includes Premier League football and the entire Champions League and Europa League live.
The firm appears to be dropping rights that are of peripheral importance in favour of its core offering where it now faces new competition from the likes of Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) as well as Sky PLC (LON:SKY).
Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com commented: “It’s hard to say exactly what’s going on here. One argument suggests greater capital discipline and a more level-headed approach to bidding for rights.
“The other is that with a lame duck CEO there is not the confidence to pursue rights packages with the kind of vim that is needed.
“Until the new CEO is installed we cannot read too much into the loss of these rights; it may be a strategic retrenchment or just a bit of extra discipline whilst the new boss is found.”
BT, which reported second-quarter results last Friday, announced in May that it’s chief executive Gavin Patterson is to step down later this year.