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Broadcast, Digital & Media, Future Trends, Sport Business | Dec 12, 2019 | 8 min read

Amazon Prime’s European football adventures; NBC hits $1bn in Tokyo ad sales; Scottish football ushers in AI production

By James Emmett and David Cushnan

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Short form

Amazon Prime’s Premier League debut, and Champions League deal
The Premier League’s domestic live broadcast reach
Eurosport seals French Olympic deal
Stats Perform hires Hirdt brothers
LaLiga showcases new player app and OTT
DAZN strikes integrated betting deal with MGM
SPFL and IMG Arena bring in AI filming
Premier League pursues Thai pirates
NBC hits Olympic ad sales milestone
Canal Plus and beIN Sports announce French tie-up
Liverpool looks to monetize YouTube

 

Long form

THE BIG PICTURE

Welcome along to the final edition of the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin for 2019. Thanks to everyone who’s read, shared and streamed throughout the year, and to those of you who joined us last week in London for our latest Think Tank. Stay tuned for details of more private industry gatherings in the early part of 2020.

So, how was it for you? Amazon Prime Video – although curiously there was little to no mention of Amazon itself during its programming – began its domestic UK coverage of the Premier League with the midweek round of games last week. The individual live broadcast of all ten Premier League fixtures, predominantly via OTT, and all with individual on-air and production teams is a significant endeavour and, given the apparent lack of any major glitch, deserves plaudits. Fears over bandwidth and network capacity were unfounded, and the fact that no boats were rocked with the solid pitch and tone of the coverage is probably an achievement too.

Industry reports indicate that Amazon were selling traditional advertising around its programming at significantly higher rates than buying agencies are used to for live football. A sign of the increased ability to segment and target that the platform should have? Perhaps. Amazon haven’t revealed precise viewing figures, other than to say ‘millions’ watched the games and that Tuesday and Wednesday last week were both record-breaking days for UK sign-ups to Amazon Prime. It’s just as well; the Amazon Prime team will now be looking to repeat the trick ahead of its next round of fixtures on Boxing Day; and in Germany from 2021 after it was announced this week that the retail giant will share the right to broadcast the next cycle of Champions League games in Europe’s largest market. German consumers are traditionally reticent about paying for TV subscriptions, but there is no such reluctance when it comes to general retail ecommerce. Germans will spend €69 million on online retail purchases this year, a figure that puts the country behind only the UK.

We’ll be back in January, but do keep your thoughts, comments, suggestions and broadcast gossip coming to [email protected] and [email protected].


THE NUMBERS

The first live Premier League games streamed by Amazon Prime Video has extended the league’s reach among the UK population, with 72% able to access games compared to the 54% who hold a subscription to the Premier League’s other broadcast partners, BT Sport and Sky Sports. The findings, published this week by Ampere Analysis, show that with Prime Video now broadcasting games – its next round of exclusively live fixtures are on Boxing Day – only 20% of the population do not have access to any live Premier League football by not holding at least one of the three subscriptions required to access all available live matches. That figure is down from 31% when Sky and BT held all rights packages between them. While Amazon has not released a detailed breakdown of viewership, it did report that its matches on Tuesday and Wednesday evening both set records for new sign-ups to Prime, and that the matches had been viewed by ‘millions’.

 

Source: Ampere Analysis

 


RIGHTS WATCH

Eurosport cracks French Olympic deal

Discovery-owned Eurosport has finalised a deal with Canal Plus and France Télévisions that will see it sublicense rights to broadcast the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in France, a territory not included in the milestone €1.4 billion Eurosport struck with the IOC for European rights to the Olympics from 2018 to 2024. Canal Plus had initially sub-licensed the pay TV rights for the 2016 and 2020 Games from France Télévisions to offset the production costs for the free-to-air broadcaster, but Eurosport will now take over from Canal Plus as the pay-TV broadcaster of the Games in France.

 


THE JOBS BOARD

Stats Perform brings the Hirdts
Stats Perform has announced the double hiring of Steve and Peter Hirdt. The brothers join the organisation from the Elias Sports Bureau, with Steve taking on the role of Director of Operations and Research, and Peter becoming Senior Director of Content and Broadcast Serivice. The Hirdts have pioneered the use of sports statistics across sports media in the US.

 


 CONTENT/PRODUCTION

LaLiga showcases new tech platforms
The inaugural LaLiga Technology Showcase at the Spanish football league’s headquarters in Madrid last week provided updates on two potentially transformative platforms. The first, LaLigaSportsTV, launched earlier this year. League officials revealed that the OTT, which broadcasts action from over 30 sports, already has 410,000 registered users and is being positioned as a potential platform for the league to capitalise on should the current rights distribution and consumption models shift in the future. The second, the LaLiga Players App, will be rolled out in 2020 and features facial recognition technology that will ensure that every player receives personal match images for use on their own content channels as soon as games finish.

Boxing clever for DAZN and MGM
DAZN and MGM Resorts International reached an agreement before the heavyweight title fight between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr on the weekend that saw the pair co-produce sports betting segments that were inserted into the US broadcast of the event, bringing viewers real-time odds updates on the fight from Las Vegas.

Scottish betting deal ushers in automated production
A new deal between the Scottish Professional Football League and IMG Arena, IMG’s sports betting arm, will see second tier Scottish league matches filmed via automated camera production technology. The five-year deal will see IMG Arena continue to provide top and second-tier SPFL matches, as well as Scottish domestic cup competitions, to the international betting market. Israel-based broadcast tech firm Pixellot has been contracted to provide automated camera technology in order to stream second-tier games – not all of which are currently produced for live broadcast – via betting operators.

 


DISTRIBUTION

Premier League celebrates Thai piracy victory
The Premier League chalked up another victory in its battle against broadcast piracy across the world as one Briton and a Thai national last month pleaded guilty to infringing the league’s copyright in Thailand and were handed suspended prison sentences and forced to pay damages of THB15 million, one of the largest figures ever set for compensation in such a case in Thailand. The legal decision is more vindication for the Premier League’s decision almost a year ago to open an office in Singapore predominantly focused on fighting piracy, and is a major milestone in a process that has targeted illegal streaming operations across Southeast Asia.

NBC hits $1 billion in Tokyo sales
US Olympic broadcaster NBC has announced it has passed the $1 billion mark in ad sales for its coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Games. With over seven months remaining before the start of the Olympics, the Peacock remains on track to surpass its previous high watermark of $1.2 billion in ad sales, set at the Rio 2016 Games. Despite the significant time difference between Tokyo and the US, NBC expects its coverage to reach 200 million viewers across all platforms and says it is selling ad packages that range from $1 million to $100 million and higher.

Entente Cordiale for Canal Plus and beIN Sports
Canal Plus and beIN Sports expect to agree an exclusive sublicensing and distribution deal that would see beIN Sports content available across Canal Plus platforms for the next five years. Should it be ratified, the distribution agreement would kick in from 1st June 2020. Alongside the carriage of beIN Sports’ premium channels, Canal Plus would also acquire beIN’s package of live Ligue 1 football rights that runs from 2020-21 to 2023-24. The French sports broadcast market has become more competitive – notably through the new activity of Mediapro and RMC Sport – since a previous proposed distribution deal between Canal Plus and beIN Sports was rejected by French regulators in 2016.

Liverpool start charging for YouTube access
Uefa Champions League title holders Liverpool have signed up to YouTube’s premium membership platform and will now charge subscribers for access to exclusive content on the Google-owned streaming site. The club’s YouTube account has almost 3.5 million followers. YouTube Premium charges members a monthly fee for privileged access with the Liverpool offering starting at 99p per month.

 

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