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SBD Global/March 27, 2014/Media
Key Figure In BT's Multi-Billion-Pound Football Strategy To Step Down
Published March 27, 2014
FRESH CHALLENGE: In London, Daniel Thomas reported Watson "also helped strike the deals for other sports" such as Premiership Rugby. The football deals "caused particular shock in the media sector given the unexpectedly grand ambition" shown in the outlay of close to £2B as BT "seeks to create bundled offers of TV, broadband and home telecoms." His departure also comes as BT "nears an agreement to renew the shareholder pact" for YouView, the Internet connected TV set top box. The original investors including most large British broadcasters "are expected to retain ownership of the TV platform, although BT and rival TalkTalk are expected to increase funding commitments." Watson said that it was the right time to “take on a fresh challenge.” He added, “I am proud of what we have achieved in BT TV. We have built a top quality TV service from scratch and BT Sport is thriving thanks to the great live sport we’ve secured. I am sure the business will go from strength to strength and I wish everyone at BT well” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 3/26). In L.A., Stuart Kemp reported Watson's departure "sparked speculation that the telecom giant may be considering a strategy change after its high-stakes entry into the pay TV arena and competition for content." The stock prices of both BT and pay-TV competitor Sky "fell only slightly in a sign that investors didn't expect major strategy changes" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 3/26).