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Bulletin length: 2,258 words – it’s chunky 10-minute read
Leaders Broadcast Disruptor of the week: Linda Yaccarino
See you in New York
The art of football analysis
Gianni Infantino and the Women’s World Cup
Sky moves into the insurance game
Europe’s top streaming platforms by market
IMG’s football content chief Richard Bayliss
LEADERS BROADCAST DISRUPTOR OF THE WEEK
Who? Linda Yaccarino What? CEO, Twitter Why? You don’t have to look far for hot takes and sober analysis of Yaccarino’s new role working with Elon Musk at the top of Twitter. A longtime admirer of Musk, the NBCUniversal ad chief resigned from that role last week to take the reins at the rowdy blue bird. Yaccarino’s remit has never been simply sport but just as in her old role she influenced key NBC Sports properties, from the Super Bowl to the Premier League, so the decisions she makes in her new one will help shape this industry. A whole mini-sector has grown up around Twitter and sport over the last decade – content creators, clip rights, in-house specialists at teams and leagues, not to mention research agencies monitoring and benchmarking performance. If Twitter fails, there’s an awful lot of untangling to be done to contracts, partnerships, activations, strategies, engagement analysis and campaigns across the industry. Thus, it’s well worth keeping tabs on how and what Yaccarino does over the coming months as she enters the aviary.
THE BIG PICTURE
Thanks for joining another edition of the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin. If you’re producing, creating, managing, strategising, distributing, packaging or analysing sports media and content, this is probably the email for you (and if it is, why not do us a solid and forward it on to your favourite colleague or client?).
We’re heading to New York at the weekend and will be in town from Monday to Wednesday, for 4se New York and our latest private Broadcast Disruptors think tank. Cracking line ups for both, so if you’re in town let us know and we’ll see if we can squeeze you in –drop us a line at [email protected] and [email protected].
Before we get started, another little date for your diary. The European Handball Federation is resuming its annual sports business event after a three-year hiatus. It’s European Handball Talks, on 16th and 17th June, in Cologne, and it features a trio of friends of the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin, Benni Stoll, Peter Hutton and Andreas Heyden.
EYES ON THIS – Watch how these things develop to understand the future
Top, top analysis: A good week, as it turned out, for us to have spent time with Barney Francis, who joined us for a special edition of Leaders Live (which you can also find in podcast form here) for a mooch around IMG Studios, and to have chatted about the art of punditry. Francis showed us round the CBS Uefa Champions League studio at Stockley Park, in West London, where host Kate Abdo and regular cast members Thierry Henry, Jamie Carragher and Micah Richards have gelled into an amusing, engaging and credible team over the past few years, bringing big European nights to an American audience and myriad viral clips to social media. Francis, who oversees global production at IMG, says the tone and colour of the CBS shows has been in part inspired by TNT’s studio coverage of the NBA in the United States. And in a week when, back in Europe, Ian Wright did this and then Rio Ferdinand did this, Francis, who has helped launch the career of many a football pundit, has some sage advice for would-be pretenders. “I’ve been approached by lots of sports people coming to the end of their careers,” he explains, “who say ‘I now want to move into sports broadcasting and punditry’ and my question is always ‘what are you going to bring that’s different?’ We’ve gone miles beyond the age where people want to listen to pundits and analysts just saying what they see on screen – that changed years and years ago. Now it’s also about the chemistry. My answer always was ‘tell me what you see on screen now, and what are you going to add to, say, Sky Sports football’. You’re trying to create a flow and a chemistry where each person is bringing something different – Micah Richards is one of the standout new pundits/analysts because he’s got this wonderful gregarious nature about him, great energy. That sits polar opposite to Gary Neville, who’s bringing something completely different – smash them together and it’s really interesting. They’ve got to bring something new.”
Infantino’s plea: Gianni Infantino’s call for major broadcasters to step up and invest more in the rights to the upcoming Women’s World Cup at the start of this month inevitably provoked a barrage of headlines. The Fifa President, described ‘disappointing’ offers from broadcasters in five key European markets – the UK, Spain, Italy, Germany and France – as a “slap in the face” of players, and threatened “not to broadcast” the competition in those territories. It’s an idle threat, of course, or more precisely a negotiating tactic, one made possible by the launch of Fifa+, the world governing body’s own OTT platform. In theory at least, Fifa could broadcast the tournament into those markets via Fifa+ , although the reality is that it wants and needs eyeballs on games as much as revenue. The service is therefore useful leverage in continuing discussions about how much broadcasters are willing and able to pay for the rights (as a sidebar, BBC Sport presenter Gabby Logan appeared to confirm to Times Radio (at 28:45) last week without anyone actually noticing that the BBC and ITV have indeed now signed to share the rights in the UK).
Sky’s the limit: Television, even satellite television, was a relatively simple game 32 years ago and if ever a reminder was needed of the growth and complexity of the media marketplace in the intervening period, then perhaps it came via two recent announcements from Sky. First, the broadcaster that brings you sport, news, entertainment, can build the TV you watch it on, and probably does your broadband and your phone too, has moved into the insurance game. It’s launched what it calls an ‘innovative smart home protection service’ under the Sky Protect brand. “At Sky we have a heritage in entering new markets and shaking them up, and we’re about to do the same with home insurance,” Stephen van Rooyen, CEO of Sky UK & Ireland, said in a punchy statement announcing the initiative. Then, just last week, in a partnership brokered by Yath Gangakumaran, Sky Sports’ Commercial Director, it announced a partnership with Fanatics, which will see the launch of a new online shop and Sky Sports and Fanatics work together on licensed sports merchandise for over 900 sports organisations. For all the talk of one-stop shops elsewhere in the industry, Sky continues, quietly and effectively, to march into new sectors.
Using data from GWI, ‘media universe cartographer’ Evan Shapiro has highlighted Europe’s top streaming platforms by market. The graphic provides a stark reminder of the dominance of Netflix and YouTube across the continent, and the rise of Disney and Amazon more recently although Shapiro also notes the enduring appeal of more traditional broadcasters such as the BBC, Germany’s ZDF and ARD and Sweden’s SVT, all of whom made early decisions to build out streaming platforms.
In the mixed zone with… Richard Bayliss, VP, Head of Football Content for Production at IMG, who joined the agency at the end of last year, following stints at the A-Leagues and Optus Sport in Australia
Six months into the role, how have you approached immersing yourself in the IMG football portfolio?
It’s been exciting, moving to the football production epicentre. It’s been about asking a lot of questions – having worked with IMG previously as a client in Australia, I was pretty well aware of the global strength of the brand and the business. Since arriving it’s been about understanding the breadth of the organisation, which, both in a football and a production sense, is incredibly strong. Even within the first few months there have been some real highlights, including us producing the coverage of Apple’s MLS Season Pass – which has been fantastic and there’s plenty more to come in that space, too. And closer to home being part of the first two Euros qualifiers for England, for Channel 4, has been extremely powerful editorially, and the audience has been really strong. At closer quarters, IMG is even more impressive than I’d realised.
What’s surprised you?
The footprint of IMG was maybe something I didn’t understand fully, despite working with IMG from a distance. I’m pleasantly surprised in that sense about the possibilities – everything we do from a production standpoint, but also across digital, original content, sales, distribution, technology and data.
How do you reflect on the first few weeks of the Apple-MLS relationship?
The reaction to the deal initially, and our part of it, was centered around the global nature of it, which is where the opportunity lies. So far, it’s something to be proud of but it’s also a project where we want to continue to improve what it is we’re offering the audience. One of the great successes so far has been MLS 360, our live goals show every week, which I think hits the right tone for our audience every Saturday night in the US but also opens up the league to that global audience, which is always something we’re thinking about. We’ll continue to experiment with that show where we can, and think about how we can provide more value to the audience, whether they’re watching on a first or second screen, which is a key consideration. This is not just traditional matchday viewing for one or two timezones, this is a global project and that’s why it’s so exciting.
What kind of evolutions and tweaks are you making?
Visually, what we’re offering is already different to what the traditional MLS audience may have seen previously but we want to keep pushing in that direction, whether it’s on-screen graphics, editorial feature material – what we’d really like to reflect, on the latter especially, is the incredible power of the fanbase in the US. When you think about the fact the next men’s World Cup will be Stateside in 2026, it’s a great time to tell the stories of the unique fanbases so we want to do more of that. The cultural momentum and movement behind MLS is unique globally, let alone in the States – that’s an area we want to keep pushing into where we can.
When you’re taking even small decisions about tweaks to coverage, are you completely data-driven, or is there still a little bit of gut feel involved?
I think everything has to be data driven, not entirely – but you have to listen to your audience always. It’s always consumer first. There’s always an aspect of experience that comes into these decisions as well and that’s where a company like IMG is so powerful, because its experience in Premier League Productions for example over a long period of time will undoubtedly provide know-how and experience for MLS. Similarly what IMG does with CBS will drive creative decision making for Channel 4, or the EFL. You see the vast experience IMG has across football production, and it’s powered by fresh, new ideas. It makes little tweaks to coverage of MLS or other properties more informed.
You’re working with lots of different broadcasters/rights holders – in practice how different is a CBS, for example, from a Channel 4?
If you start with the unique characteristics of an audience, and the realisation that every market is different and will consume football in its own way, it’s always important to be tailored to those consumers, in terms of editorial style, digital focus etc. Football audiences aren’t the same – and having grown up as a football obsessive in Australia, watching at weird and wacky times, on different devices and in different ways, I can assure you that every market is different, even if sometimes in subtle ways. Having said that it’s incredibly important to learn and take ideas from one to the next – so, for example, learning from CBS and the Uefa Champions League coverage, particularly in terms of tone and style, will undoubtedly bring ideas to what we do on other projects
What’s top of your priority list over the next six months?
Helping to bring the pieces together within IMG to create even more value for partners – I think we can provide a lot more and I think we’re well-placed to do so, making sure the audience is always at the heart of those opportunities is really important. We’ve also got some very exciting projects on the horizon, which I can’t say anything about other than keep your eyes peeled.
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