The latest edition of the bi-weekly Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin covering all of the recent movers and shakers in sports broadcasting. Featuring the likes of Formula 1, Premier League, DAZN, BT Sport, Eleven Sports and more.
By James Emmett and David Cushnan
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The media executives taking over sport
Thinkbox’s research into ‘viewing to experience’
Inside DAZN’s MLB ‘look-in’ deal
MotoGP key to DAZN’s Spanish arrival
Clubs oppose English Football League’s TV deal
Eleven Sports promotes Anouk Mertens
New faces arrive at Airbeem
Copa90 hires new Head of Talent Relations
Fox Sports partners with Sportradar
BT Sport pushes ahead with 5G production plans
Whisper opens up in Cardiff
BeIN piracy frustration grows
Welcome to the latest Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin, your all-in-one briefing on the latest cutting-edge thinking and best practice in the sports media industry. Please do keep spreading the word among colleagues and industry peers – and do keep your feedback, suggestions, ideas and insights coming to [email protected] and [email protected].
When Animal Planet Global President Susanna Dinnage begins her new job as CEO of the Premier League early next year, she will be following in the footsteps not only of the long-serving Richard Scudamore but of a growing group of senior broadcast media executives who have taken the reins at a major sports organisation.
Just as Formula One opted to appoint former Fox Sports executive Chase Carey and Sean Bratches, previously of ESPN, and the NBA has chosen Eurosport’s Ralph Rivera to head up its EMEA division, the Premier League has turned to expert knowledge of the shifting media sands for its next leader. It’s a clear trend (and it’s probably good news for many of you reading this bulletin): sport’s major jobs are being snapped up by media executives, a recognition of the opportunity – and perhaps uncertainty – presented by new methods of distribution and content monetisation models.
Three of the four current major league commissioners in the United States have a legal background: at this time of rapid change in consumption and content, what price their successors all having that same qualification?
Thinkbox’s recently-released Age of Television study, based on quantitative analysis of 150 days of TV and video consumption through camera glasses worn by 30 people and a qualitative study of 6,000 others, identified eight ‘need states’ which people watch TV and video to satisfy: to unwind, distract, comfort, stay in touch, experience, indulge, escape and to do. The research was conducted by strategy consultancy MTM. Experience – ‘the need to feel part of a shared viewing experience, either by watching live or being able to participate in a wider social conversation’ – accounted for 10% of all viewing time. Of that 10%, the chart below shows where they were watching.
Source: Thinkbox ‘Age of Television’ report
In the mixed zone with…. Joe Markowski, EVP, North America, DAZN
DAZN last week acquired a package of ‘look-in’ live rights to Major League Baseball games for the next three years, around which you will build a show. How did the deal come about?
This specific opportunity came about early this year, probably six or seven months ago. The MLB came to us with this opportunity which we felt was too good to miss. Many naysayers in the industry dismissed the US for DAZN as a market in which we wouldn’t be able to acquire domestic content for some time. I think this deal shows on both sides a willingness, an ability to creatively package content that brings high quality premium top-tier sports rights to fans in the US in a new way.
The obvious comparison is with the NFL’s Redzone – is that what US viewers should expect?
The whiparound nature of the content, giving us access to every live MLB game will, in a similar way, showcase the most suspenseful, most crucial plays across all 30 teams. That gives a very broad and moment-based view of MLB, which hasn’t been done before in this sport and gives us a platform to do something that along with the MLB we’re very keen to do, which is take this content and set of rights to younger, multicultural audiences. That’s a key priority of this partnership from MLB’s perspective and they see DAZN as the platform that best allows them to do that.
Put us inside DAZN: what happens between a deal being signed and the launch of this?
It’s a format design focus now – but a lot of work has been done on that prior to negotiations getting going. Now, it’s really putting meat on the bones of what this looks like. From a revenue perspective and a partnership perspective I see a number of priorities. A key focus will be working with the clubs. In simple terms there are 30 teams in the US – if those guys each make a realistic contribution to the subscribers we can generate, this deal washes its face very quickly. A big priority for me is to partner with those clubs and build out relationships. They are new relationships – and it’s a big country, so getting out and meeting these guys, building account management structures and relationships with them to allow us to maximise their marketing channels and reach their audiences in good time, as they launch their seasons next year. As they sell tickets, merchandise, we want to be stitched into that and a key part of the MLB fan conversation as soon as the fever turns to baseball.
From a wider perspective, do you anticipate more of these kind of deals where rights holders are carving out new sets of rights to monetise?
One thing I’m not seeing reported a lot is how we’ve approached this market strategically, looking over the next three to five years from a content perspective. Stage one was market entry with fightsports, which has a certain platform for creativity that perhaps other sports don’t. There’s more licence in how you can work with promoters to build out an offering. We’re very excited by all that content, notably the first of our Canelo shows in December. The second stage was always going to be a spreading of our wings into more content, making us a multi-sport broadcaster here as we are in other territories. Stage three, down the line, is to be reached and will only be reached if we continue to perform and grow at the pace we are, which is going after the major pay TV packages with the top tier US rights holders like MLB – the traditional game packages. That’s a few years away. We’ve had a lot of knocks on the door from all over the world for such packages. There’s a lot of pigs in lipsticks out there, we’re very aware of that and we won’t invest our funds unless the opportunity makes sense. This is not the first carved out package we’ve had brought to us, but this is the first one we’ve invested in in a major way. The message to the rights holder community would be please keep bringing us ideas, we will absolutely back the ones that make sense – we have the funds and appetite to do that.
Race to the top
Its acquisition of Premier League rights caught the headlines, but it’s DAZN’s exclusive MotoGP rights that are most likely to move the needle in its latest new market, Spain. With four Spanish races per season and with Jorge Lorenzo and current champion Marc Marquez having shared the last seven world titles between them, MotoGP has a huge following in the country and remains a vital strategic market for Dorna (headquartered in Barcelona). Coverage will switch from pay-TV service Movistar next season at the start of a four-year agreement. As part of the deal, DAZN will make some live and highlights coverage available on a free-to-air basis. The Premier League deal, meanwhile, covers over 235 live games per year for the three seasons beginning from 2019/20.
EFL/Sky deal opposed
Monday’s English Football League (EFL) board decision to push ahead with its new domestic rights deal, a five-year agreement worth £595 million with Sky Sports, has fired the starting pistol on what could be a damaging rift with the league’s biggest clubs. The original proposal was criticised by the likes of Aston Villa, Derby and Leeds United with reports of up to 15 Championship clubs opposing the terms, believing the deal has been valued too low especially given Sky’s additional rights to broadcast multiple games via its red button service. Sky, however, are believed to have been the only significant bidder for the rights. EFL clubs met on Tuesday at Villa Park to consider their next move, with the nuclear option appearing to be to form some sort of breakaway. While nothing concrete was agreed, a statement was released ending with the promise that ‘there is a calm determination within Championship clubs to ensure the matter is not left here.’
THE JOBS BOARD
Eleven promotes Mertens
Eleven Sports has promoted Anouk Mertens, its Managing Director in Belgium and Luxembourg, to the new role of Chief Operating Officer. In her new group-wide role, Mertens will manage the streaming service’s budgets, review market performances and ‘seek synergies and operational efficiencies across the group’.
Airbeem hires Plunkett and Clement
Direct-to-consumer platform builder Airbeem has made two senior appointments. Ericsson Broadcast & Media Chief Technology Officer Steve Plunkett will join the board to advise on ‘technical growth and strategy’, while Tim Clement, formerly of Comcast Technology Solutions, has been hired as Vice President of Sales.
Copa90 eyes new talent
With an eye on securing influencers and developing in-house personalities to front its content, Copa90 has hired Comic Relief’s Miranda Nagalingam as Head of Talent Relations. Nagalingam, a former Head of Press and PR at West Ham United, was part of the management team at Comic Relief USA.
Fresh from its multi-billion renewal of Major League Baseball rights for the period between 2021 and 2028, Fox Sports has entered into a new partnership with Sportradar to enhance live broadcasts through use of data and analytics. Fox will lean on Sportradar’s Radar360 tool which was launched two years ago.
BT Sport has begun promoting its trials of 5G broadcast technology, which it says will be used to cover National League and FA Cup matches from next season. That brings the prospect of reduced production costs for outside broadcasts. It is expected that a portion of the UK’s 5G network will be reserved for media and entertainment use when it rolls out in 2020.
Whisper make some noise
Whisper Films, the production company co-owned by former Formula One driver David Coulthard and BT Sport presenter Jake Humphrey, has opened a new office in Cardiff. The company, which produces the BBC’s NFL coverage and has produced Channel 4’s coverage of Formula One for the past three years, has been awarded the production contract for Welsh-language coverage of next year’s Rugby World Cup by S4C as well as a range of live women’s football and Channel 4’s coverage of the 2020 Paralympics.
BeIN frustration grows
“There’s piracy going on here at an industrial level,” was how Tom Keaveny, BeIN Sport’s Managing Director last week characterised the ongoing saga of Saudi-backed BeoutQ to Bloomberg, as the Qatar-based broadcaster continues to ramp up the pressure on global sports rights holders to do more to curtail the rival service. BeIN insists it will reduce the amount it invests in broadcast rights if the increasingly sophisticated pirate service is not halted. “At the end of the day,” added Director of Sports Content Dan Markham, “why would broadcasters pay for rights that can’t be protected?”
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Thanks for reading this edition of the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin. We’ll have another for you in a fortnight; to receive this briefing straight to your inbox every second Thursday, please opt-in here.
Leaders Week New York
20 - 23 May 2019