Broadcast, Digital & Media, Future Trends, Sport Business | Jan 16, 2020 | 8 min read

Your 2020 broadcast predictions; seamless switching between portrait and landscape; and the Premier League sells first longer-term package in Europe  

By James Emmett and David Cushnan

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Short form

What’s your eye on in 2020
2020 surprise stories
Premier League sells six-year package
Nigeria to outlaw sports rights exclusivity
Osmanbegovic resurfaces at new production company
Francis confirms Sky Sports exit
WSL announces new CEO
Bundesliga links up with AWS
How ESPN went big on college football’s finale
Quibi plays with portrait to landscape
Twitter to introduce interactivity changes


Long form


Hello, Happy New Year and welcome to the first Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin of 2020. A big broadcast year beckons, with the Olympics, Euro 2020 and Ryder Cup all guaranteed to be bulky broadcast moments.

We’ll be here each fortnight with a snapshot of what’s happening – and about to happen – across the sports broadcast space, and we’d be delighted to receive your snippets of insight, rumour, speculation, opinion and comment. Find us at [email protected] and [email protected].

To help you get back into the swing, we’ve produced another broadcast-focused Leaders special report, this one examining the latest technical innovations shaping sports broadcasting – it’s free to download and you can find it right here

We’ve also spent the last week or so asking a few of you what you’re keeping an eye on and what you’re predicting as the surprise story of 2020 in the sports broadcast industry. 


In the Mixed Zone with… your 2020 predictions


What do you have your eye on in 2020?

Bhavesh Patel, Global Digital Director, BeIN Media Group
More premium sports competitions will migrate to OTT. Digital audiences are growing as more and more TV homes cut the cord. OTTs are starting to get in the millions of viewers regularly. E.g. DAZN has one million viewers for its big boxing matches and in the case of IPL over 40 million viewers on Hotstar.

Peter Hutton, Director of Global Live Sports Partnerships and Programming, Facebook
I’ll be looking at how consumer behaviour evolves as fans are increasingly faced with a multitude of content choices. I’m also curious to see how publishers use social media to both command the attention of their fans and convert those fans into customers. The traditional reliance on linear pay TV income is going to increasingly diversify; it will be fascinating to see how the industry responds. 

Oli Slipper, Chairman, Pitch International
Worldwide content acquisitions an increasing trend by the likes of DAZN, Amazon Prime, ESPN+ as OTT players look to build global sports brands. 

Joe Markowski, EVP, North America, DAZN
I’m keenly watching how the industry collectively responds to the threats of content piracy into government and big tech. 

Danny Menken, Group Managing Director, Eleven
There’s so much exciting stuff in the pipeline for the sports media industry in 2020. But one challenge we all have to focus on this year is piracy. It’s an existential problem for us and we need to be coordinated within the industry and come together to work closely with local governments around the world to tackle it. The Premier League and La Liga have made some promising progress in recent months, but there’s lots more we can do in the year ahead.

Any noises from Amazon HQ regarding their recent foray into football – has it worked? Will they double down at the next opportunity? When a potentially nine figure investment is described as a ‘free hit’ or ‘like buying lunch’ for the company, it could be significant for the sport if it has worked for them.

Philip Bernie, Head of TV Sport, BBC
I have my eye on what should be a great year of big events, notably the Euros and Olympics – and the return of live cricket to BBC TV too. With some regular annual big hitters, this should all make for a bumper year all round for freetoair sports consumption.

Alexandra Willis, Head of Communications, Content and Digital, Wimbledon
Direct to Consumer is not just OTT. Expect more properties to recognise that there are potentially many more ways, and perhaps more efficient ways, of being direct to consumer than building or licensing an OTT platform. And will TikTok make it to mainstream? Is its desire to become ubiquitous like Instagram – and therefore play it more safe – or will it retain its unique characteristics and creators – which inevitably means remaining more niche?

George Krieger, former Fox executive, Founder Apparent Gravity
NFL media deals: believe at least one big OTT player makes a big move for some combination of Sunday Ticket, or international game package or Thursday night package from among Amazon, Apple, ESPN+ and maybe even DAZN. Keep your eye on Comcast/NBC too, as they are aggressive. ABC back in, probably via Monday Night Football with ESPN and multicasts (different presentations of same game, a la what they do for College Football Championship). They will need a major talent upgrade to do so. Fox will marshal all their energy and money in retaining biggest, best Sunday package, while CBS will have to break the bank to maintain its Sunday afternoon package – I think they are good for at least one more big package.  


Predict a 2020 surprise story 

Joe Markowski, DAZN
2020 will see the emergence of new sports entertainment genres, blending traditional sport with new and emerging entertainment categories. Blank canvas for the industry and lots of opportunity for those who are creatively inclined and brave enough to try it.

Oli Slipper, Pitch International
Major European rights holders announcing six to ten-year rights sale cycles to help stimulate demand for their content in otherwise challenging market conditions.

Peter Hutton, Facebook 
Derby sneak into the Premier League via the playoffs.
[Editor’s note: Derby currently sit 17th in the Championship] 

The surprises will be that more people will claim that they know how to run a streaming service and more rights holders will fall for it.

Danny Menken, Eleven 
I think 2020 could be a big year for non-mainstream sports content. Platforms like My
cujoo are showing that with the right technology, longtail content can be delivered in a way that’s cost effective and that provides real value to underserved fans.  

Philip Bernie, BBC 
Andy Murray surprising all doubters at Wimbledon would really be something. Here’s hoping.

DAZN to break into the UK market, via a Matchroom Boxing-flavoured deal with Sky.

Alexandra Willis, Wimbledon 
Overly bold no doubt, but does the ease of content access today mean that the sporting moment of the year might not come from the Olympics or the Euros? Could it be F1, The Hundred, pop-up boxing, Wimbledon (naturally), the NFL, and so on?



Premier League offers six-year rights term in Europe for the first time 
The Premier League launched a landmark ITT this month, asking for offers for new six-year rights agreements in the Nordic region. The league will consider the six-year offers alongside offers for the traditional three-year terms. It is the first time that the Premier League has offered a six-year term in any European market – while it has previously been done in China and the US. Three of the domestic leagues in Scandinavia are currently sold to local broadcasters in six-year cycles. The ITT closes on 29
th January. 

Nigeria to outlaw exclusive rights acquisitions
Nigeria is to follow South Africa in the introduction of market-altering regulation of sports rights. Following a report by the country’s national broadcast watchdog, the Nigerian government has moved to introduce measures to outlaw the acquisition of sports broadcast rights on an exclusive basis, prohibiting what it calls ‘anti-competitive practices’ in an effort to broaden the reach of sports content across Nigerian broadcast platforms. South Africa, home of the continent’s dominant
provider SuperSport, is currently reviewing its own listed events legislation with a view to enshrining more sports content on free-to-air platforms.



Former Eurosport man launches production company
Former Eurosport SVP of Sports Content and Production Emir Osmanbegovic has launched Nexiko Sport, an independent production company based in the Nordics that will work on live and post-produced programming. The company already has an unnamed commission from Discovery in Sweden. Osmanbegovic left Eurosport in August. 

Francis confirms Sky departure
Long-time Sky Sports chief Barney Francis is leaving the company later this year, after more than two decades of service. Francis ran Sky Sports for ten years until last May, when Rob We
bster replaced him as Managing Director and Francis took up a new role as Chief Executive of Future Sport which partly involved exploring ways Sky and Comcast could work closer together. 

World Surf League promotes media specialist 
The World Surf League has announced that Erik Logan will replace Sophie Goldschmidt as Chief Executive, a reflection of the series’ desire to become a ‘more focused content and media company
. Logan is a former President of the Oprah Winfrey Network and was hired by WSL last February as President of Content. Goldschmidt will join the organisation’s advisory board.



Bundesliga heads to Amazon for cloud cover 
Amazon Web Services (AWS) will become a new official technology provider to the Bundesliga after signing a multi-year deal with DFL. The agreement will see AWS provide cloud infrastructure, machine learning and AI tools to the top two tiers of German league football with the intention of generating and integrating real-time statistics and other personalisation overlays into live game broadcasts. 

ESPN goes big on college football finale 
Monday evening’s College Football Playoff National Championship saw ESPN deliver its sixth megacast of the event – 15 different presentations of the single game, across its various television networks and the ESPN app. Over 100 cameras and 100 microphones were deployed across New Orleans’ Mercedes-Benz Superdome. A notable first this year was ESPN’s efforts to promote that fact on its social channels, with Twitter users invited to tweet using #CFPTwitterCam to receive a real-time photo from one of the cameras during the game. 

Quibi reveals Turnstyle feature 
Perhaps the most significant broadcast innovation announced during this year’s CES show in Las Vegas was short-form video service Quibi’s plan for ‘Turnstyle’, a feature which will allow viewers to change their viewing experience from landscape to portrait and back again. Pepsi have created the first advert that works with the format, ahead of Quibi’s launch in the US this April.  



Twitter to introduce ‘Statement mode’ 
Twitter will introduce four new modes of tweet this year that will allow the composer to dictate who can interact with the tweet. ‘Global’ lets anybody reply, ‘Group’ is for people the composer follows and mentionsPanel is for people the composer specifically mentions in the tweet, and Statement will brook no response. The developments were announced by the company’s Director of Product Management Suzanne Xie at CES.

Thanks for reading this edition of the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin. We’ll have another for you a fortnight today; and if you haven’t subscribed yet, do remember to opt-in here.


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