BT Group Plc (LON:BT.A) has secured the broadcasting rights for the 2017-18 Ashes cricket series as part of a five-year deal with Cricket Australia. Under the terms of the agreement, which was announced yesterday, BT will show all Australia's Test matches, one-day internationals and the Twenty20 Big Bash tournament.
The deal is set to further strengthen BT’s sports broadcasting portfolio, which has been consistently beefed up by the company over last couple of years. The Financial Times quoted unnamed City analysts, who described the deal as “the first time that BT appears to have made a meaningful effort to diversify beyond football”. The announcement, therefore, of the Ashes deal, is seen as an attempt by BT to offer more diverse sports coverage. The analysts added that the deal could act as “launch pad for a more concerted effort to get more cricket”.
BT has invested more than £2 billion in acquiring sports broadcasting rights in recent times. However, the company's efforts have mainly been focused on football, with the group having spent heavily on acquiring the broadcast rights for the UEFA Champions League and Europa League competitions, as well as for the English Premier League. Beyond football, BT’s portfolio includes domestic English rugby, MotoGP and the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Until now its cricket portfolio has been limited to the Caribbean Premier League T20.
In today’s trading, BT shares were up 2.3 percent at 423.80p, as of 10:42 BST. The stock has risen 5.4 percent since the start of the year and the company’s market valuation currently stands at £35.3 billion.
The 19 analysts offering 12 month price targets for BT have a median target of 518.00p, with a high estimate of 600.00p and a low estimate of 355.00p. As of 24 August, 2015, the consensus forecast amongst 23 polled investment analysts covering BT had it that the company will outperform the market.