Broadcast, Digital & Media, Future Trends, Sport Business | Oct 31, 2019 | 9 min read

BeIN Sports wins a key court battle; which platforms are teens really using; and the gameplan behind Barça Studios

By James Emmett and David Cushnan

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Short form

BeIN Sport wins court battle with ASO
What video platforms are US teens using?
FC Barcelona’s Digital Director on strategies and Studios
SABC to broadcast Rugby World Cup final
Luminary’s new CEO
Sky Sports executive joins AR specialist
Mark Alford returning to Sky Sports News
BT Sport bigwigs find pastures new
Why the NRL is considering moving production in-house
HBO Max plans revealed as streaming wars near
F1 evaluating Twitch trial
DAZN links up with Snap to promote Canelo


Long form


Good morning and welcome along to the latest edition of the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin, your guide to the latest and greatest in sports broadcasting and media.

We’re in the thick of 2020 planning here at Leaders HQ, so do drop us a line with any thoughts, ideas and suggestions – what and who should we be covering, and who are the people, companies and concepts we should be watching? – at [email protected] and [email protected]. Look forward to hearing from you.

Do also get in touch if you’d like to learn more about our next Broadcast Disruptors think tank, taking place in London on 4th December (handily, it’s just before our Christmas drinks).

The rumbles across the industry following BeIN Sports’ CEO Yousef Al-Obaidly’s pointed and powerful warning about the impact piracy will have on the value of sports rights continue to be felt, and it’s been striking to note that several organisations have got in touch with Leaders in the weeks since offering help to BeIN in its ongoing battle to stop the pirate beoutQ service, which emanates from Saudi Arabia.

Other organisations have adopted a different approach. The French courts have ruled that Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), best known as the organiser of the Tour de France, must honour its existing and exclusive five-year media rights agreement with BeIN Sport, a deal which covers a variety of events including ASO’s major cycling races, the Paris Marathon and the Dakar Rally. Signed in 2018, the deal runs until 2023.

ASO had attempted to end the multi-million euro arrangement early, following its decision to move the Dakar Rally to Saudi Arabia from next year. It also emerged that ASO had refused to provide various satellite feeds to BeIN Sports for events they had acquired the rights to, prompting the broadcaster to take action. As well as being instructed to honour its contract, ASO has received a fine for every day it refused to provide BeIN with agreed feeds, with the courts describing the effort to terminate “seriously questionable”.

On Tuesday, ASO deepened its ties with Saudi Arabia by announcing a new five-stage cycling race to be held next February. It has seemingly picked its side. For much of the rest of the industry, however, Al-Obaidly’s words continue to resonate: “Saudi Arabia has poured petrol onto the fire and they are now turning attention to embedding an illegal IPTV culture.

“If you don’t get your house in order and quickly, the sports rights market will disintegrate beyond recognition. In fact, winter is already here.”



Investment bank Piper Jaffray’s latest research into the habits and preferences of US teens shows that Youtube and Netflix are the platforms that dominate daily video consumption, while Instagram narrowly remains the social media platform of choice. The survey collected the views of nearly 10,000 teens across 42 US states.


Source: Piper Jaffray’s Taking Stock With Teens Survey, Fall 2019




In the Mixed Zone with… Enric Llopart, Digital Director, FC Barcelona

How would you sum up your digital content strategy?
FC Barcelona has around 350 million fans around the world, which is overwhelming, but it has its complexities. We are focused on engagement, on making every single piece of content we do well thought-out for that specific platform, well thought-out for that specific audience – and that it works properly. We are obsessively measuring everything we do because it’s important to grow the audience quantitively but also qualitatively. We have core fans who are engaged, casual fans becoming more core fans and those are who are not fans who can get on board. It’s incredibly complex and it’s getting more complex – Instagram a few years ago was a place where you were just publishing pictures, now you have Stories and IGTV. And you can multiply that for other platforms, formats and languages.

How are you addressing the particular challenge of engaging a younger audience?
We are absolutely aware there is a big shift in content consumption and behaviour in general of young audiences that will obviously affect football. We see everything around us being disrupted and maybe we think that football won’t get disrupted; but maybe we will. We need to have disruption paranoia and be obsessed with these younger audiences and be where they are, on the platforms where they love to consume. That means TikTok – we launched on there a few months ago and we are the number one football club – and it means being in esports. It’s ways to connect with younger audiences who might not consume a 90-minute game.

FC Barcelona recently launched its Studios – can you explain the vision behind it?
It’s not just there as a brand, it’s a huge physical office with studios, and we’re building a 3D, virtual reality studio as well. We have more than 100 people working there and it’s all the audio-visual resources of the club – the digital department and Barca TV – working together to generate synergies, maximise efficiencies and maximise our ability to create new formats, new entertainment content formats that we believe are key. We ideate, we create, we produce and we commercialise the content from that one single point.

Enric Llopart was speaking at the Leaders Sport Business Summit in London earlier this month.



SABC to broadcast Springboks final
SABC has reached agreement to broadcast Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final across South Africa, after reaching agreement with rights holder SuperSport. Prior to the tournament, the two broadcasters failed to reach a satisfactory financial agreement for tournament rights, with the troubled SABC unwilling to meet the proposed US$28 million rights fee. However, with the Springboks making the final and poised to take on England, public clamour for the game to be broadcast to the widest possible audience appears to have forced a deal. In the UK, meanwhile, ITV can anticipate an audience larger than for last weekend’s England vs. New Zealand semi-final when an average of 7.4 million and a peak of 10 million were tuned in. The game in Yokohama begins at 9am UK time.



New luminary at Luminary
In the week it has announced an additional US$30 million in financing from unnamed existing investors, Luminary, the podcast subscription service that launched earlier this year, has also confirmed Steve Sutton as its new CEO. Sutton is a former President and Chief Revenue Officer at HBO. Luminary’s launch CEO, founder Matt Sacks,is moving upstairs to take on the Executive Chairman role.

Ruddell joins AR specialist
Former Sky Sports executive Mike Ruddell is joining augmented reality specialists Ncam Technologies as its new Global Business Development Director, with a brief to advance its activities in sport. Ruddell’s previous roles at Sky include Head of Technology at Sky Sports.

Alford to switch from Sky News to Sky Sports News
Mark Alford will become Sky Sports News’ Director from January, switching from his current role as Head of Digital at Sky News where he will be shortly overseeing the broadcaster’s online coverage of the UK General Election.

BT Sport executives find new roles
Former BT Sport Head of Football Stephen Cook has joined IMG Productions as Director of Content, while another former BT Sport executive, Head of Commercial Sports Rights Steve Norris, has been hired by Gravity Media as Director of Production and Content.



NRL ponders in-house move
Australia’s NRL is reportedly pondering a move to take over the production of matches, a move likely to significantly alter the dynamics of its next rights deal negotiation. The current domestic broadcast deals, with Foxtel and Nine, run until 2022 and its live rights sold for around AUS$2 billion last time round. The Sydney Morning Herald, however, reports that the NRL is discussing in-house production as a way of making the rights more attractive to a new group, including domestic streaming service Kayo and the FAANGS, as well as keeping open the possibility of retaining a portion of rights to sell to fans directly via its own digital platforms.



To the max
The much-hyped streaming wars are about to begin in the United States – and beyond – and while the soon-to-launch Apple TV+, HBO Max and Disney+ do not have a direct sports focus, it is certainly worth keeping an eye on how they perform in the battle to get in terms with Netflix (160 million subscribers at the last count). AT&T’s HBO Max, which brings together content from HBO, Turner and Warner Bros following AT&T’s US$109 billion purchase of Time Warner earlier this year, was unveiled this week, with the company targeting 50 million US subscribers and between 75 million and 90 million in total globally by 2025. It will launch in May and intriguingly WarnerMedia confirmed that it intends “in the future to provide subscribers with unique live, interactive and special event programming…” as part of the service. Meanwhile, Disney and Verizon have partnered ahead of the launch of Disney+ on 12th November, with Verizon’s current customers set to receive a free year of the new service.

F1’s Twitch trial
Formula One is mulling over the results of its live broadcast on Twitch, which took place over the Mexican Grand Prix weekend. Billed as a trial, the streaming service broadcast Sunday’s race in six markets, notably including the major market of Germany, with local gaming personalities recruited to provide commentary and point their own communities towards the coverage. The broadcasts also included a data-based live prediction integration.

Snap and DAZN team up
Following its recent rather transparent blanket messaging on Twitter, where all sorts of boxing personalities posted the same promotional tweet, DAZN has turned its attention to another social platform. Its new partnership with Snapchat began this week, helping the broadcaster promote its coverage of Canelo Alvarez’s latest fight on Saturday. Fight night will be the first time Snapchat has ‘in-progress premier boxing highlights’ on the platform. Several levels up the DAZN food chain, meanwhile, owner Len Blavatnik and Executive Chairman John Skipper are reportedly looking to raise at least US$500 million to support the company’s further expansion in rights and markets.


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