Eurosport celebrates 30 years; MTV goes OTT; and CBS Super Bowl production under the microscrope.
By James Emmett and David Cushnan
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Eurosport celebrates 30 years
New data on media use and attitudes of children
CBS Super Bowl production under the microscope
Premier Sports gaining ground (and rights) in the UK
Discovery loses Chief Technology Officer to Google
Discovery hires Chief Technology Officer from Amazon
Diquattro takes Spanish responsibility at DAZN
Gary Neville sells 50% stake in production company
SEA ride-hailing service Grab buys VoD service
MTV goes OTT
Twitter adds ‘Go Live Together’ function
Welcome along to the latest edition of the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin, guiding you through the latest developments, new thinking and best-in-class activities across the sports broadcast space. Keep your opinions, insights and industry news coming to [email protected] and [email protected]. And a reminder that we’re just a couple of weeks away from opening the nominations for this year’s Leaders Sports Awards – last year, the on-screen experience category featured a stellar shortlist including NBA, La Liga, Wimbledon and the winners ATP Media; this year, it could very well be you – and here’s a few tips that might help you out.
Discovery was also among the shortlisted entries last year for Eurosport’s multimedia, multi-screen coverage of the Olympic Winter Games from PyeongChang. This week marks 30 years of Eurosport, the brand Discovery Communications acquired five years ago, with a special on-screen rebrand celebrating all things 1989 rolled out to celebrate the occasion.
It’s fair to say the channel, which was launched on Sky Television following a collaboration with the European Broadcast Union initially in English, Dutch and German, has come a long way in its three decades on the air. Once, somewhat unfairly, derided as the home of events that wouldn’t find a broadcast slot anywhere else – elite lumberjacking, pro tractor-pulling and the like – Eurosport has matured into a premium channel offering premium content, with specialities such as blanket coverage of winter sports, cycling’s Grand Tours and its new pan-European contract for the Olympics.
According to a release celebrating its anniversary, Eurosport’s two primary channels now reach 246 million subscribers across 75 countries in Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. Throw in a thriving events division, the Eurosport Player and app and what it claims to be Europe’s number one online sports news website (42 million unique users per month), and it’s quite the sports media success story.
Here’s to the next 30 years.
UK media regulator Ofcom’s annual ‘Children and parents: Media use and attitudes report 2018’ was published last week. Its research examined the habits and media literacy of children aged between 5 and 15, revealing that while TV and tablets continue to dominate device use, time spent watching TV on a TV set is decreasing; over half of 5-15 year olds consume OTT services such as Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video; and that YouTube is ‘becoming the viewing platform of choice’ particularly among 8-11 year olds.
Source: ‘Children and parents: Media use and attitudes report 2018’, Ofcom.
In a new semi-regular segment, where we ask a prominent sports broadcast executive to review the production and output of a major event telecast, former Fox Sports Executive Vice President George Krieger appraises the CBS broadcast of Sunday’s Super Bowl…
“Like the players in Super Bowl LIII, the CBS production team is also at the top of their game; these are the very best CBS has, both creatively and technically. This past Sunday they were up to the challenge. Director Mike Arnold had four full production trailers including a full truck of replay producers and operators to manage the 115 cameras he had at his disposal. The show had extraordinary enhanced audio capabilities with multiple sub-mixers for field audio complimenting CBS’s usually strong sound.
The secret weapon
CBS’s secret weapon was Atlanta’s two-year-old Mercedes Benz Stadium built with sophisticated TV production needs integrated into the design of the building. The 360-degree high resolution video boards at the very top of the stadium were on display early in the telecast during the introduction of the teams. This was particularly effective with the stadium’s unique roof open before the game kicked off. Graphics were big and bold, particularly in the half-page vertical configuration.
The beginning of the game on the field was frantic and full of nervous energy by both teams; the television production was calm and measured as the producer got through the early game traffic and information essentials. Overall, the telecast was very good.
What could have been better – granted, I am nit-picking here – was overwhelmingly in the replay area. The job of the live video coverage and play by play commentary is to tell the viewer the ‘who’ and ‘what’; the job of the various replays and the expert analyst is to tell you the ‘why’ and the ‘how’. Producers sometimes fall in love with the big lenses and super-slowmo video at the expense of why and how things happen. I found too many replays of the same thing and all way too tight to tell the story. Two examples in key sequences…Tom Brady being sacked and fumbling (recovered by the Patriots): all three replays, progressively tighter, focused on Brady with no replay of the defensive coverage scheme that caused the sack (the ‘why’ and ‘how’).
Throughout the game, Patriots receiver Julian Edelman was consistently open. How was he doing it? Replays focused on iso shots – Edelman coming off the ball, all very intimate and tight – lovely shots. But I would have loved to see more end-zone replays from behind the defensive side to explain how that little so-and-so was always open. Too heavy a reliance on the super tight and extremely intimate replay at the expense of (slightly) wider, all-field-coverage-perspective replays. Unfortunately, the promised enhanced audio was a no-show.
The CBS commentators were terrific. Only in their second year together, Jim Nantz and Tony Romo were relaxed when the game was frantic or sloppy. They had fun with each other and the viewers and it was refreshing. Championship events are NOT Head of State funerals – they are supposed to be fun.
Nantz gave us relevant and timely game notes (e.g. Atlanta Aquarium, the first Super Bowl with no touchdowns thru the first three quarters, five teams beat the Patriots this year and none of those teams made the playoffs).
Romo has the ability to verbalise what fans are thinking without sounding snarky or nasty; his enthusiasm is authentic and natural. Oh, and he knows the game and lets the audience in without being preachy. He notices match-ups and points them out pre-snap and where to look on the screen. He routinely follows that up with the ‘why’ and ‘how’.
So sorry about the halftime show. Silly, over-produced and less relevant as each year goes by, these multi-artist mini-concerts have lost their lustre. Unless the NFL can find a way to bring Prince back to life, it’s time to chart a new course…all brought to you by Pepsi, of course.
The television production of a Super Bowl is a massive, pressure-filled exercise for the group of outstanding and dedicated professionals above and below line. The CBS team was terrific.”
As shrewdly observed by sports rights consultant David Murray on LinkedIn, one overlooked aspect of Eleven Sports ceding the UK rights to Serie A is that the low-profile Premier Sports, which has picked up the IMG-marketed package, has added another set of rights to its quietly impressive portfolio. Premier’s schedule also includes live Scottish Cup football, Guinness Pro14 rugby, NHL and the Eredivisie. Meanwhile, the splintering of European football rights across UK pay channels continues. Access to live Premier League (Sky Sports, BT Sport and from next season Amazon), Bundesliga (BT Sport), La Liga (Eleven), Ligue 1 (BT Sport) and Serie A (Premier Sports) football in the UK will now cost over £1,000 in subscriptions.
THE JOBS BOARD
Honeycutt swaps Discovery for Google Cloud
Discovery Chief Technical Officer John Honeycutt has joined Google Cloud to head up its telecommunications, media and entertainment divisions. According to Variety, Honeycutt will ‘lead development and implementation of Google Cloud’s worldwide strategy, using his pay-TV background to focus on helping migrate traditional video distribution workflows from film studios, content creators and distributors to the cloud’.
Saxena to run Discovery direct-to-consumer
Discovery, meanwhile, has hired Avi Saxena to a newly-created role of Chief Technology Officer of Direct-to-Consumer. Saxena joins from Amazon Marketplace and will oversee all Discovery’s streaming activities, including Eurosport Player and GolfTV. He will be based in a new Discovery office in Seattle, where the company is building a base for its direct-to-consumer operation.
Diquattro adds Spain to remit
DAZN’s Veronica Diquattro has been given an expanded role, which will see her take charge of its new Spanish service. As EVP, Revenue for Southern Europe, Diquattro, a former Spotify executive, adds Spain to her role looking after DAZN’s Italian business, which launched last year.
Marketing and communications group reach4entertainment has bought 50 per cent of Buzz16, the short and long form content producer part-owned by Sky Sports commentator Gary Neville. Neville and former Sky Sports producer Scott Melvin founded the company three years ago. In the period since it has produced the ‘Class of 92: Full Time’ and Soccerbox series broadcast by Sky Sports.
Making a Grab
South-east Asian ride-hailing service Grab has announced plans to integrate the Singapore-headquartered Hooq video-on-demand streaming service into its app. The revenue-sharing agreement will be in effect across Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, with Grab users gaining access to the 35,000 hours-plus international and local content available via Hooq. Last year Grab bought Uber’s southeast Asia business. It now operates in eight countries in the region, with the app, now featuring an enhanced range of services beyond the core product, downloaded over 130 million times.
MTV jumps aboard OTT bandwagon
MTV has confirmed the launch of a new mobile streaming app, MTV Play, in the UK. Content will include box-set and catch-up content, plus a stream of the MTV TV channel. “The core demographic, 16-34 year olds, are ready for this distribution opportunity,” said MTV’s Dan Fahy, Vice President of Commercial and Content Distribution of the app, which will cost £3.99 per month.
In a move that may pique the interest of sports broadcasters and rights holders searching for greater engagement with viewers, Twitter has added a new feature, Go Live Together, for its Periscope live streaming app. Users who go live are now able to invite people watching to join the conversation in a stream, effectively allowing viewers to ‘phone in’ and participate.
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Leaders Week New York
20 - 23 May 2019