Laura Woods heads TNT Sports’ new female-fronted team
The Champions League will be presented by Laura Woods as TNT Sports replaces BT Sport in the British and Irish market. A female-led presentation team will lead the new venture’s football properties, led by the former Sky and current ITV presenter.
The weekend coverage of the Premier League will continue to be presented by Lynsey Hipgrave, while coverage of the Champions League will be presented by Reshmin Chowdhury and coverage of the Europa League will be presented by Jules Breach.
In a team that resembles the outgoing BT regime, there are few big-name casualties and Ally McCoist is TNT’s main football co-commentator. In addition to Rio Ferdinand, Peter Crouch, and Joe Cole, Rachel Brown-Finnis, Owen Hargreaves, Steve McManaman, Joleon Lescott, Michael Owen, Paul Scholes, and Robbie Savage provide punditry and cocommentary. BT Sport’s lead presenter Jake Humphrey announced his resignation in May, while touchline reporter Des Kelly stepped down after the Champions League final.
TNT enters the fray for £29.99 a month, the same price as its predecessor. Warner Brothers/Discovery media conglomerate has merged with BT for a joint venture in September 2022. From Tuesday morning, the new channel, along with its magenta logo, will replace BT Sports everywhere. In the first live offering from the new venture, Macedonia’s Struga will play Lithuania’s Zalgiris at 4pm UK time, fulfilling the Champions League rights inherited from BT until 2027. Furthermore, TNT will carry BT’s 52 Premier League games until 2025.
In addition to Orla Chennaoui, who hosts Eurosport’s Tour de France coverage, Radzi Chinyanganya, who anchors snooker on Eurosport, joins the channel as a multisports anchor. Former Scotland mainstay Stuart Hogg has joined the rugby union punditry team.
The return of BT’s Champions League Goals Show is welcome news for fans of the show, but its placement on Discovery+ opens up a wider company plan. The president and managing director, Andrew Georgiou, hopes to deliver “an even more compelling offering that appeals to the whole household, which combines more live sport with entertainment”. In addition to Eurosport channels and Discovery channels, TNT subscribers will have access to them for that monthly price. Discovery Plus’ Outback Car Hunters shows enthusiasts searching for remote Australian cars to renovate are part of the Warner Bros/Discovery universe, which includes Batman and Barbie blockbusters as well as HBO and Succession, CNN’s news operation.
The aim of TNT Sports, according to Georgiou and Scott Young, its production head, is to be “irreverent” and “relatable”. In the US, it won praise for pairing the basketball legends Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal, and the new TNT team includes “content creators” like Crouch and Ferdinand, so developments may follow.
Georgiou told the Guardian that women’s sport was a priority for TNT, despite BT losing coverage of the Women’s Super League to Sky in 2022-23.
Setanta Sports, a yellow-tinged, Irish-based Premier League broadcaster that entered the market in 2006, has faced difficulties competing as a secondary Premier League broadcaster to Sky. The company’s financial difficulties forced it to hand over the baton to Disney-backed ESPN in 2009, which failed to make an impression over four years.
While BT struggled for critical acclaim, it developed a legacy over 10 years. Despite TNT’s ambitions to better engage fans and consumers, the financial stability of its mothership is at risk. Inheriting BT’s rights gave TNT a base-level of live rights, needed to survive before success could be considered. But Premier League rights from the 2025-26 season onwards are up for auction this fall – with 60 extra games mooted, packages still to be announced.