Photo of the crowd at a football stadium, with a graphic wrapped around the stands in TNT Sports' new magenta branding

Inside BT Sport’s fan-first rebrand to TNT Sports

DixonBaxi takes us behind the sports channel’s rebrand from BT Sport to TNT Sports in the UK and Ireland, which aims to break the homogeny of broadcasters with new UI and motion designs, atypical typography, and a fan-centric ethos

BT Sport is a household name – literally – in the UK and Ireland. By the mid-2010s, after the telecoms provider launched its own sports channels, it had managed to edge into Sky Sports’ territory, which had pretty much had the run of the satellite sports coverage market until then. Two weeks shy of its 10th anniversary, BT Sport has rebranded to TNT Sports, a new joint venture between BT Sport and US-based Warner Brothers Discovery. The latter also owns Eurosport, which is also being folded into TNT Sports.

DixonBaxi counts all of the stakeholders – Eurosport, Warner Brothers Discovery, and BT Sport – as clients, so it was perhaps an inevitability that the brand consultancy would be brought into the mix for the transition to TNT Sports. Warner Brothers Discovery already operated the TNT Sports brand in the US and Latin America, and the existing name and logo have been transposed over, albeit with a lick of magenta paint. But on this side of the Atlantic, the TNT brand itself is something of a blank canvas. “The great opportunity that we had was that that didn’t mean anything to the British and Irish market, so we were able to fill that with meaning,” says DixonBaxi’s Tassia Swulinska, who was the design director on the project.

Drawing on fanzines as inspiration (the team even created their own at the beginning of the project), the idea was to capture the subcultures, opinions, and personalities surrounding sports. The team travelled to events and training grounds across the sporting spectrum, from the Champions League men’s semi-finals to a grassroots academy for girls, working with professional photographers to capture everything around sports – big and small. It was about setting a different tone to the “big epic moments” that define sports narratives, particularly media coverage, with its “super high” production values, according to the agency’s creative director Harry Ead. “With all of those amazing advancements, it has sort of homogenised the way that sport is presented, especially within the broadcast space,” says Ead, acknowledging that BT Sport fit into that category.

Image from BT Sport's rebrand to TNT Sports, as shown on a photo of a young person wearing a football shirt shouting towards the camera, headlined 'support support support always'