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20 January 2022
Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin: what you need to know today about the shifting sports media landscape
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Bulletin length: 2,388 words – it’s a 9-minute read
Broadcast Disruptor of the week: Shay Segev
2022 sports media predictions
The sports documentary boom intensifies
F1’s effective content strategy explained
Major spike in value through branded content
Inside PGA Tour Live and ESPN+’s new production set-up
BeIN Media Group’s CEO on linear TV and the battle against piracy
LEADERS BROADCAST DISRUPTOR OF THE WEEK
Who? Shay Segev
What? CEO of DAZN
Why? The former betting executive has this week taken sole charge of DAZN, with James Rushton stepping away from the co-CEO role he has shared since Segev’s arrival in June. The move signals a new direction for the streamer. Chairman Kevin Mayer said as much in the official annoucement, describing Segev’s “technology background and outstanding history of delivering a strong performance culture” as “hugely beneficial as DAZN introduces additional interactive fan engagement services such as betting and e-commerce.”
THE BIG PICTURE
Thanks for clicking and welcome to the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin, your fortnightly briefing on everything new and vital in sports broadcasting, content creation, distribution and monetisation. Hope you managed to get some form of break and are raring to go for 2022. We certainly are.
If you’ve got any new starters round your way, point them in our direction: a quick sign up and it’ll save you forwarding this email on in future. And your gossip, news and opinion is always welcomed – try [email protected] and/or [email protected]. We commit to flagging your email. And if you’re in the UK – or nearby – look out for an invitation in the next few days to our first in-person Broadcast Disruptors think tank of the year. They’re private, they’re high-level and they’re always worth coming along to.
Predictions, we have a few: We’re upping our own audio-visual game this year, so we’ve put our 2022 pointers into podcast form, for the first edition of the Broadcast Disruptors Audio Bulletin – available now on the Leaders Sport Business podcast feed. If you work for Two Circles or DAZN, or Zoom, Peloton or Fanatics for that matter, it’s worth a listen. The metaverse gets a mention (of course), there’s a discussion on how broadcast innovation should be further invigorating women’s sport, and thoughts about sports executives as on-screen talent; pop-up sports broadcast events and whether referees and officials might have bigger roles in sports coverage.
We’re planning more of this kind of audio commentary throughout the year and we’re open to ideas, so do let us know what you want to hear and who you want to hear it from.
DAZN edging towards BT Sport agreement // Premier League wins High Court ruling; PPTV ordered to pay £157 million in outstanding rights fees // Netflix confirms PGA Tour and tennis documentaries // Premier League renews with Disney in South America // British government confirms BBC license fee will be frozen for two years, then rise in line with inflation for four years // The return of the NFL slime monster // Little Dot launches dedicated sports division // Microsoft acquires Activision Blizzard for US$68.7 billion
EYES ON THIS – Watch how these three things develop to understand the future
Non-fiction update: Filming is underway on two more major sports documentaries for Netflix, with London-based production company Box to Box Films, the brains behind Formula One’s ‘Drive to Survive’, involved in new partnerships with the PGA Tour and the major tennis governing bodies and tournaments. The ambition is clear: a glossy, carefully curated, behind-the-scenes documentary, distributed and promoted by Netflix, will help golf and tennis reach new audiences and in time turn them into genuine fans, just as ‘Drive to Survive’ has been given the credit for Formula One’s rising popularity, particularly in the United States. Every sport outside football seems to be looking for its ‘Drive to Survive’ moment. Seb Coe wants one for athletics – “The EBU is talking about some quite create stuff, maybe even a documentary series around athletics – a similar kind of Netflix ‘Drive to Survive” – and so does America’s Cup veteran Grant Dalton: “It’s lifting the lid on the Cup, it will put film crews into the places they’ve never been before. ‘Drive to Survive’ has been a massive success and probably every sport on the planet wants to do something similar, but not many have an environment like ours.” Standby for a saturated market; and if everyone has a behind-the-scenes documentary on a major streaming platform, does everyone automatically find new fans?
Seeking silver bullets: But is the sports documentary – and contrary to the impression given by some it’s a format that pre-dates ‘Drive to Survive’ – the silver bullet every sport seems to think it is? The reality is ‘Drive to Survive’ is but one element of a sophisticated multi-platform, multi-faceted content strategy Formula One has developed over the past few years that also includes enhancements to live broadcasts, through new camera angles and data; carefully building relationships with teams and drivers to help amplify and drive engagement in content on social; and the development of a host of short and long-form content strands, utilising additional in-car footage, unseen camera angles or team radio to tell stories long after the race has finished – a definitive thread here on what they’ve done and why. ‘Drive to Survive’ has evidently been a major success but it’s part of the ammunition, not necessarily the silver bullet.
Demanding branding: An eye-catcher of a stat from Meta, who have been running the numbers on the value generated by Europe’s major football clubs through branded content – live, recorded, long and short-form – over the past 18 months. The media valuation of branded content on Facebook and Instagram, across the club pages/profiles of 12 of Europe’s top football clubs increased from €81 million to €153.7 million – during the 18 months from March 2020 to August 2021, compared to the previous 18-month period. An uplift during the pandemic, of course, was entirely predictable, as focus, resources and inventory was switched to digital in the enforced absence of live events, but an increase of 90% in value generated is significant – and further evidence of not only the potential of well-constructed branded content but also the increasingly sophisticated approaches being taken by clubs and platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Our latest ‘How to’ guide identifies and explores five key considerations in developing an effective branded content strategy, but it also has us reflecting on what the next phase of player and athlete media training might look like in an era when, at the top level, they are expected to be natural, effective and persuasive ambassadors for anything and everything from spicy noodles to sensitive social action initiatives – all under the veneer of authenticity. As more clubs invest in studios and build out in-house content and production facilities, should they also be thinking about investing in acting lessons for the talent?
In March 2020, ESPN+ was announced as the new home of the PGA Tour’s digital rights, part of the wider broadcast rights package the tour struck with CBS and NBC for the period between 2022 and 2030. PGA Tour Live, the tour’s own subscription streaming service, has effectively been folded into the ESPN+ subscriber package, available to the broadcaster’s approximately 17.1 million customers. The new digital broadcast set-up began earlier this month at the PGA Tour’s season-opening event in Hawaii. The full four feed offering debuts today, however, in the first round of The American Express at La Quinta County Club.
PGA Tour Live on ESPN+: inside the production
15-person talent crew
In the Mixed Zone with… Yousef Al-Obaidly, Group Chief Executive Officer, beIN Media Group
At Leaders Week London back in 2019, speaking at the height of the beoutQ piracy scandal, Yousef Al-Obaidly, Group Chief Executive Officer at beIN Media Group, delivered a stark warning to the global sports industry. “While most people here think they’ve got their house in order,” he told delegates, “the truth is that our industry is completely unprepared. I’m here to tell you how the endless growth of sports rights is over. Not only that, but in certain cases, rights values are going to drop off a cliff, and the very economic model of our industry is going to be rewritten. If you don’t get your house in order and quickly, the sports rights market will disintegrate beyond recognition.”
Just before Christmas – just over two years on from that initial speech – Al-Obaidly was back on stage at a Leaders event, joining us for Leaders Meet: Qatar, hosted by beIN Sports in Doha. His remarks provided a timely health-check on the state of the sports broadcast sector entering 2022.
Yousef Al-Obaidly on the enduring power of linear TV
I have no doubt that we will provide the most unforgettable viewing experience in World Cup history. It is because of magical moments like the World Cup that I’m optimistic for the future of broadcasting, and specifically for the future of linear TV. This is despite being warned for years and years about the terminal state of television. Indeed, a few years ago, every sport conference that we attended seemed to have a session dedicated to the death of linear television and the complete takeover of OTT, with phrases such as ‘the streaming revolution,’ ‘the Spotify model’ or ‘the Netflix of sports’ thrown around like business cards.
The doomsday predictors of linear television should consider the following: the final of the World Cup 2018 in Russia between France and Croatia was watched by 1.1 billion people. How many people do you think watched it via linear TV? Not many, you would assume based on everything you read, right? Try four out of five viewers, equating to 850 million. And the number rises even further when you include fans watched in cafes, restaurants and out of home viewing. In fact, of the 3.6 billion people who watched any official broadcast of the Russia World Cup – not just the final – 3.2 billion out of those 3.6 billion watched it on linear. Also, a 10% increase of linear audience from Brazil 2014.
Why is this? Well, live sport is in the moment. It’s an untold story – you cannot replicate it, you cannot predict, you cannot meaningfully pause it, which you can do with other entertainment. As a result, it brings people together like no other content can. It’s like a campfire moment based on emotion, not algorithms. For this reason, 25 of the top broadcasts ever broadcasted have been live sport. No platform delivers these moments better than linear. After all, you don’t want to know the penalty shootout result five seconds after your neighbours due to buffering or an overloaded broadband connection. And remember, not every market in the world has the internet infrastructure like Silicon Valley. Quite the opposite, let me tell you.
I’m not saying that linear TV is the future, far from it – clearly, a mix of linear and OTT, pay and free tv, is the balanced approach. However, those who have predicted that linear TV’s downfall for years need a different crystal ball. They also need a lesson in terminology – there is no Netflix of sport, Spotify does not work for territorial sold rights, and satellite TV is streaming or OTT via a different platform. Every media company has both. The critical combination of every broadcaster in the future is having one: premium quality content; two: having wide accessibility of the content, acquiring the rights and packaging them to the consumer at the right price. Perhaps, some in the industry could also drop their PR phrases.
Yousef Al-Obaidly on the value of scarcity
On the topic of PR campaigns, those demanding two-year World Cups should be careful about pushing for too much of a good thing. As [a representative of] BeIN, the world’s biggest buyer of sports rights, I’m telling you from experience that broadcasts value premium and exclusive products. Advertisers and sponsors also think the same. As a result, twice as often does not mean twice the value. So, be careful what you wish for.
Yousef Al-Obaidly on the continuing battle against piracy
The final reflection of our industry as we start the huge year of sport ahead, sadly is a word of caution. I warned in 2019, nearly two and half years ago, that the sports industry, and rights holders in particular, were sleepwalking towards a financial cliff. I warned that no one was confronting the elephant in the room; of illegal piracy, which in 2019 was close to becoming the primary method of consumption of live sports in many markets. Today, as our calendar turns to 2022, I stand here feeling a bit like a climate change campaigner attending COP26. There have been a lot of nice words at conferences, but barely any action. Yet the data is going in one direction – illegal piracy is now the biggest broadcaster in many markets. Just think about that. Countries right across MENA are top of the US government piracy blacklist year after year. And I’m not only talking about this region, it’s happening under your very noses in established markets and mature economies as well.
In France, an anti-piracy study recently suggested that 12 million French internet consumers watch live sports illegally. That’s more consumers than Canal+ and beIN Sports, the two main broadcasters combined.
Separately, Synamedia Analysis released a report earlier this year calculating the rights holders were missing out on $28 billion in revenue each year due to piracy. It’s crazy how we have become immune to the scale of these statistics. Just think about that figure… what would sport do with $28 billion extra revenue in this Covid environment? They could do quite a lot. So I will repeat this in 2021 just as strongly as I did in 2019: anti-piracy needs to be elevated from backrooms to boardrooms, CEOs and federations and leagues and clubs and broadcasters should be shouting from the rooftops and engaging their senior politicians on this. We need to take ownership. This is not a remote problem: how can sport possibly grow when the biggest sports broadcasters are illegal IPTV? Let’s not wait until a point where there’s no return, otherwise there will be no point in returning.
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.