16 things you need to know today about the shifting sports media landscape today.
By James Emmett and David Cushnan
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A postcard from NAB
Snapchat details the future of video
Inside Facebook with Peter Hutton
NBC and LA 2028 create joint long-term offering
TF1 confirms RWC exclusivity in France
ESPN+ launches Big 12-branded service
UKTV’s Childs takes Premiership Rugby CEO job
Amazon hiring European sports rights buyer
YouTube switches Ben Relles to new innovation role
Former B/R president Rory Brown lands MTV role
DAZN appoints Rocha to EVP of revenue in Brazil
More consolidation across Sky and NBC
Molinari joins Woods at GolfTV
Spanish Football Federation launches tit-for-tat OTT service
La Liga made available on Onefootball app in UK
Disney+ launches at low price point
This is the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin, your fortnightly briefing on all things new, interesting and eye-catching in the world of sports broadcasting and content. Welcome along. This week’s your last chance to enter your organisation, project or production into the 2019 Leaders Sports Awards, and, as ever, we’re keen for you to help us set the agenda for this bulletin – do send your news and comment to [email protected] and [email protected].
Lovely to meet a few of you at NAB in Las Vegas last week, where efficiency was the name of the game, not least in planning a route around the expo and the 120,000 people in attendance. With 5G on its way, cloud production and AI broadcasting are enabling tighter workflows and helping content producers, aggregators and distributors reduce costs, with many of the organisations on the floor at NAB demo-ing snazzy solutions to that end.
A handful of innovations that caught the eye: 1) Red Bee Media achieved record low latency on its live demo OTT feed from the expo. 3.5 seconds ‘glass-to-glass’ is no mean feat, and probably the limit of what’s currently realistic. Anything less than that, and internet speeds will struggle to process without buffering. 2) Hewlett Packard Enterprise has developed a new software package to allow producers to democratise the broadcast: a system that enables a football producer, for example, to seamlessly mix in live footage and ‘journalistic contributions’ from spectators dotted around the venue. 3) Riedel’s Bolero wireless intercom system, already in use across several sports leagues to allow officials to communicate with each other across several channels, comes with clip-on belt packs complete with inbuilt bottle openers. Cheers.
Snapchat’s newly-released report on the evolution of video summarises the shifting habits of viewers from the ‘watch when it’s on’ days of appointment viewing of the 1970s, to the birth of time-shifting and VCRs in the 1980s – the ‘watch when we’re ready’ era – to the rise of personal collections and bingeing in the 2000s. That change in viewing habits coupled with what Snapchat calls ‘democratised content creation’ has had a significant effect on TV viewership, while in a mobile-dominated world short-form content – 10 minutes or less – is gaining in prominence. ‘Video creators’, the report says, ‘are responding with content that mirrors consumers’ shifting interests; 75% of videos published in 2018 were less than two minutes long, up from 56% the previous year.’
Source: Snapchat’s ‘Handheld: Insights on the Evolution of Video’ report
In the mixed zone with… Peter Hutton, Director, Global Live Sports Partnerships and Programming, Facebook
What are you finding most interesting about the role?
I think Facebook looks at opportunities and areas for development and the business changes incredibly fast. And that’s a part of the job that makes it really interesting – you have a conversation about Oculus and what they’re doing one day, you talk about vertical video on Instagram next and these are all new areas for sport to be in. It’s definitely not something where you could say ‘in six months’ time we will be doing this’; it’s very much a question of test, learn, look at the data, move again. And that’s a fascinating bit to be in. The quality of the data in terms of looking at what really changes behaviour, I think that makes it a really interesting space to be in. The message to the sports industry is very much look and see how you can interact with this, because it’s about you using the platform and learning about the platform. And that’s not a three-week tutorial and then that’s it for the next ten years, because the platform will be different in six months and different in 12 months. It’s an ongoing learning process.
How exciting it is to be in a position to almost reimagine the sports broadcast product?
It’s relatively easy for any organisation to go out there and buy sports rights – you just put out a stupid big cheque and the rights will flow. The challenge is ‘do you use it sensibly?’ – look after the brand, look after the sport you’re working with, give a better experience to the fan. I think that’s the real challenge of the Facebook job: how can fans enjoy that content more on Facebook or within the Facebook group of apps. That unleashes lots of potential for future transactions or future experiences. It’s easy to talk about Facebook as this giant thing – and it is huge and it’s going to be brilliant – but the bit that really interests me is the practical change you can make.
Is there a sport that works best in the Facebook interactive environment?
I think it’s a sport you care about most. For me, watching Derby County on a live stream is great. The fact I can chat to people in the Derby County forum at the same time is part of my viewing experience as I watch that stream around the world. The potential of taking the sports that you really care about, having experiences where you’re chatting with informed fans who are also watching that, whether that be on Facebook or even in a VR environment, the potential is huge.
To watch the full interview with Peter Hutton, visit the Leaders website.
NBC and LA 2028 partner early
US Olympic broadcast rights holder NBCUniversal has signed a deal with USOPP, the JV between the LA 2028 organising committee and the USOC, to build a combined commercial offering for partners looking for Olympic association in the long build up to the Games. The agreement covers the two Olympic cycles following the Tokyo 2020 Games.
TF1 goes exclusive with Rugby World Cup
TF1 has confirmed it will broadcast this year’s Rugby World Cup on an exclusive basis. The broadcaster secured the rights to the tournament last year but has elected not to enter into a sub-licensing agreement with another broadcaster this time round, as it did with Canal Plus in 2015. TF1 will cover all 48 games live and will be hoping for ratings similar to those achieved in roughly the same morning timeslot during the 2011 tournament, played in New Zealand. France reached the final of that competition, with 17.8 million viewers watching the broadcast – an 87 per cent audience share.
ESPN Big 12
The development of a ‘Big 12-branded offering’ on ESPN+ is the most eye-catching element of the revised and expanded agreement between the college conference and ESPN. The new agreement runs until the end of the 2024-25 season, with the new streaming proposition set to be introduced at the start of next season and include exclusive football and basketball games, plus other sports and original content. While Texas games will continue to be broadcast by ESPN’s Longhorn Network and Oklahoma’s by Fox Sports, the deal includes the league’s other eight schools. Texas and Oklahoma away games will feature on ESPN+. ABC or ESPN will televise the Big 12 Football Championship each year during the course of the new deal.
THE JOBS BOARD
Childs to take charge at Premiership Rugby
Continuing the trend of major rights holders appointing media executives to senior roles, Premiership Rugby has announced UKTV boss Darren Childs as its new Chief Executive. Childs is credited with increasing revenues by 66% over his eight years in charge of UKTV, the umbrella for channels including Dave, Good Food and Alibi. BT Sport holds the live UK Premiership Rugby TV rights until the end of the 2020-21 season. Channel 5 is this season broadcasting five games live on a free-to-air basis. Outgoing Premiership Rugby chief Mark McCafferty will become an advisor to CVC Capital Partners, which in December became a minority shareholder.
Prime Video hunts for sports rights specialist
Amazon Prime Video is on the hunt for a Head of Rights Acquisition for sport across the EU region, to be based in London. It is seeking ‘a critical thinker who has an attention to detail, is cool under pressure, and isn’t afraid to roll his/her sleeves up as needed’.
YouTube creates Innovation role
YouTube’s Head of Unscripted Ben Relles has been named as the company’s first Head of Innovation. In his new role, he will oversee YouTube’s interactive programming and live broadcasts.
Brown joins MTV
Former Bleacher Report President Rory Brown has landed a new role as Head of Digital and Social Media for MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo. Brown will report in to Chief Marketing Officer Jacqueline Parkes.
Rocha steps up for DAZN Brazil
In a week in which DAZN Group has offloaded Perform to Vista Equity Partners and presumably increased its broadcast rights war-chest in the process, it has also confirmed Bruno Rocha as Executive Vice President for Revenue of its service in Brazil. A soft launch is already underway in the market, with DAZN streaming live football via Facebook and YouTube. The full product is expected to launch in a few weeks.
Sky and NBC formalise plans
Following a production partnership at the Players Championship and a new regular daily slot for a Sky Sports News broadcast on NBC Sports Channel, the latest sign of increased Sky-Comcast collaboration came on Friday when NBC simulcast Sky Sports’ broadcast of the Newcastle United-Leicester City game. At a more corporate level, Sky and NBCUniversal’s international operations are merging, with NBCU channels such as Syfy and UniversalTV to be operated by Sky and Sky Vision folded into the NBCUniversal distribution operation.
Molinari joins Woods on GolfTV
Open champion and Ryder Cup star Francesco Molinari has joined Tiger Woods in the GolfTV stable, signing a wide-ranging content agreement with the Discovery-owned OTT service. Like Woods, Molinari will record an exclusive instruction series for GolfTV and provide behind-the-scenes access at tournaments.
Multiple Spanish streams
The rivalry between the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and La Liga appears to have ratcheted up a notch with apparent confirmation that the former is planning to launch its own streaming platform just weeks after La Liga announced the same. Just as LaLigaSportsTV plans to provide a platform for a variety of Spanish sports, the new RFEF service is being planned in partnership with Spain’s Olympic committee. The EFE agency quoted RFEF President Luis Rubiales as saying: “We are going to look for the formula so that all the federations that want to produce their own events, no matter how small, have the possibility of being part of it, in a proportion of investment and profit.”
Additional UK La Liga broadcast options
Continuing a season of chopping and changing La Liga broadcasts in the UK, the Onefootball platform has begun offering live streams of games. The app is collaborating with Eleven Sports, which took on the exclusive broadcast rights at the start of the season. With Eleven’s future in the UK uncertain, Premier Sports and ITV are also now broadcasting live games. Onefootball is offering a live game for £2.99.
Disney+, the company’s OTT service which launched amid great fanfare last week, is well worth monitoring in the weeks and months ahead – in particular, the low initial price point of US$6.99 per month, an attempt to quickly gather a significant number of subscribers, and what is expected to be an unprecedented cross-promotional effort across Disney’s existing platforms, theme parks and studios. ESPN’s competitors and partners will also be eagerly anticipating more from Disney on how and when it intends to bundle Disney+ with Hulu and ESPN+.
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The Sport Business Summit
18 - 19 July 2019