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Broadcast, Digital & Media, Future Trends, Sport Business | Nov 28, 2019 | 9 min read

Serie A’s €460 million beIN Sports deal in jeopardy; Sky Deutschland’s CEO switch; and Lou DiBella on DAZN’s boxing model

By James Emmett and David Cushnan

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Short form

OTT Video Trends Report results
Lou DiBella on Boxing After Dark and the new DAZN model
Foxtel to step away from Rugby Australia
Serie A set to lose €460 million beIN Sports deal
Devesh Raj to become Sky Deutschland CEO
Solomon to take on NBC Olympic production role
Jose Mourinho’s box office Tottenham move
BeIN Sports announces new free service in US
Amazon prepares for Premier League debut

 

Long form

THE BIG PICTURE

Welcome to the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin and Happy Thanksgiving to those in the United States and Americans around the sports broadcast world. This is your fortnightly briefing on what’s new, important and noteworthy across the sector, brought to you by Leaders.

We’re under a week away from our latest Broadcast Disruptors Think Tank, taking place in London next Wednesday afternoon. These are private gatherings for a group of senior people across the industry designed to discuss, share and shape how the sports broadcast market is changing. Wednesday’s theme is modern production methods: costs, impact, engagement and we’ve a couple of spots left for the right person, so if you’d like to be considered get in touch without delay at [email protected] and [email protected].

 


THE NUMBERS

Grabyo’s recently-published OTT Video Trends Report shines a light on how, as the report itself puts it, ‘OTT platforms are now the most popular paid, premium video services available to consumers globally’. As the report says, the majority of consumers now pay for at least one online streaming service with 38% investing in an OTT service, 32% paying for satellite or pay TV services and 19% not currently paying for any. The report also drilled down into the most popular platforms by market, with Netflix sweeping the board across the UK, USA, Australia, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

 

Source: Grabyo OTT Video Trends Report 2019

 


INSIDE VIEW

 

In the Mixed Zone with… Lou DiBella, Founder and CEO of boxing promotion DiBella Entertainment.

What moment in your career are you most proud of?
I’m very proud of conceptualising and launching a series at HBO called Boxing After Dark. I’m a little bit upset that HBO is out of the boxing business because I was part of the legacy there. We created pay per view boxing – Seth Abraham, Ross Greenburg, Mark Taffet, myself. HBO Boxing was star driven and a lot of televised boxing has been star driven, but as years have passed the majority of world champions can walk through Times Square without being recognised. My belief was if you make great fights and brand them, the viewer, the subscriber, doesn’t have to know those two fighters before the fight. If two guys go to war, it’s tremendously entertaining and people will come. I went to my boss, he liked the idea but said ‘you’ve got to convince Michael’ – Michael Fuchs who was at the time Chairman of HBO. He was a big boxing fan and believed it was all about stars. I sat down and said ‘you’re wrong on this one, let me do this and we’ll do great ratings, and we’ll be able to bring down our license fees because we’ll be able to prove we can get great ratings without spending gazillions of dollars on the biggest fighters’.

Now a six rating is unheard of on premium cable, but at the time world championship boxing on HBO was doing eights, nines and tens. He said, ‘I’ll bet you $500 that you can’t do a six rating with your premiere telecast’. We got a 6.7 rating. Now, it took me a long time to collect from Michael but Boxing After Dark as a result became a staple of HBO’s programming. It opened the door for fighters in more weight classes, for fighters who weren’t getting attention and were tremendous fighters but just below superstar level. That paradigm of creating great fights and branding them became a standard all over the industry. It changed televised boxing for ever and I’ll always be proud of that.

What kind of obstacles did you face as you were trying to deliver on that vision?
Proving other people who were really good at what they did wrong. Seth Abraham, who was my boss, believed in it but wasn’t willing to put himself that out on it and Michael Fuchs had a great sensibility for programming and trusted me enough to give it a shot. Luckily it didn’t fail.

If HBO After Dark had never existed and you were in the same situation again, what would you do differently now?
Now the challenges are so different. The competing factions, the competing television entities in boxing in the United States are going back to that star driven perception of the sport. The reason for that, if you take DAZN, is they need to move subscribership. One great fight doesn’t move subscribership in their minds; one year in, they’re trying to put on pay per view-level fights where the consumer is used to paying $60 or $70 or $80 and hoping it’s an impetus for subscriber growth. I think one of the things DAZN may be missing a little bit is there’s a lot of good content out there and grabbing smaller content that’s high quality is not going to result in the same bursts of subscriber growth but it will show the fan the commitment to the sport and encourage them to subscribe for the breadth of what you’re doing in boxing.

Will the DAZN subscriber model win out over pay per view, or will pay per view block the progress of DAZN?
Pay per view is not blocking the progress of anything. Pay per view is there for those situations where an event is capable in one night of generating more money than anyone wants to pay for it. The issue for DAZN might be how much tolerance of pain do they have as a loss leader – will they really go out and spend $150 million on one fight in the hope it’ll move subscribers. That’s an awful lot of money. Pay per view is not going to exist in ten years as we know it; that’s not to say there won’t be one-time transactional programming. It’s going to be an on-demand model, television as a whole. Part of the challenge DAZN has is they’re only a subscription model, they don’t have a linear partner in the United States who can be promoting subscribership of DAZN, or that’s building the brand in front of more eyeballs. They’re limited to their marketing budget in terms of developing their brand. I get why they’re doing it and there’s a lot of logic to it. I’m rooting for their success. It’d be a lot easier for them if they had that linear partner, but they are correct looking at the sports marketplace in identifying the combat sports as somewhere they can get subscriber growth by appealing to a hardcore fanbase.

Lou DiBella was speaking at May’s Leaders Sport Business Summit in New York.

 


RIGHTS WATCH

Foxtel may step back from rugby union
According to a Sydney Morning Herald report, Foxtel is on the verge of ending its long-term broadcast relationship with Rugby Australia for rights including Super Rugby and Australia test matches. Telco Optus, which broadcast last month’s Rugby World Cup, is reportedly in play for the rights, which will kick in from 2021. Rugby Australia, however, maintains that it has not formally begun negotiations for its next cycle. Foxtel, meanwhile, posted a loss of AUS$417 million last year, prompting a re-evaluation of its sports rights acquisition strategy.

BeIN Sports increases pressure on Serie A
BeIN Sports is looking to make good on its promise to reassess its entire rights portfolio in the midst of a perceived lack of rights holder action against a large-scale piracy operation being run in Saudi Arabia by beoutQ. Serie A is understood to be the major rights holder at the most immediate risk. The Qatar-based broadcaster currently has Serie A rights in 36 territories in a deal that started last year and will end in 2021. It has committed to paying around €460 million for that package, or around €155 million a season, some 55% of Serie A’s total international revenue. “BeIN is actively reconsidering its entire commercial relationship with Serie A following the league’s decision to go ahead with its Super Cup match next month in Saudi Arabia, the country responsible for the mass theft of the league’s premium sports rights for over two years,” said a BeIN spokesman. “It is remarkable what Serie A is seemingly prepared to jeopardise – not only all the financial revenues from one of its biggest broadcaster partners, but also the exposure beIN gives to the league in markets all around the world, from Europe to Asia and all across the Middle East & North Africa. Serie A’s leadership is putting at risk all of this, in favour of making a quick buck from the very entity that has been stealing its rights for two years.”

 


THE JOBS BOARD

Raj replaces Schmidt at Sky Deutschland
Carsten Schmidt is to step down as chief executive of Sky Deutschland at the end of the year. Schmidt is a 20-year veteran of the company and will be replaced by Sky’s COO for Continental Europe Devesh Raj from the start of January. Schmidt will remain in an advisory role.

NBC Olympics confirms Solomon
Following the surprise departure of Jim Bell, NBC has moved quickly to appoint Molly Solomon to the role of President of NBC Olympics Production. Solomon retains her role as executive producer of the Golf Channel.

 


 CONTENT/PRODUCTION

Broadcasters react to Mourinho move
Jose Mourinho’s surprise appointment as Tottenham Hotspur’s new head coach is already one of the biggest stories of this Premier League season, and in terms of UK broadcasters the timing is a gift for new Premier League rights holder Amazon Prime Video. Already in the middle of filming a behind-the-scenes documentary, the latest in its All or Nothing Series, with the club, Prime Video has exclusive rights to next week’s game between Spurs and Mourinho’s former club Manchester United, as part of its first tranche of live rights delivery. As Sky Sports loses one of its key pundits, hired at great expense earlier this season, rivals BT Sport lucked out with Mourinho’s first game in charge on Saturday and made its entire pre-game coverage available to all via Twitter.

 


DISTRIBUTION

BeIN Sports announces new US service
BeIN Sports has confirmed it is to launch beIN Sports Xtra in the United States, a new free service which will be available via Roku initially. The aim is primarily to help the Qatari broadcaster raise awareness of its English and Spanish subscription services. Xtra will include live sports news, analysis and highlights as well as selected live games from LaLiga and Ligue 1.

Amazon prepares for the Premier League with BT deal
As it prepares for its first week as a Premier League live broadcaster, Amazon Prime Video has temporarily taken over the BT Sport Box Office channel on Sky in order to provide a feed to pubs and other commercial premises. BT has also added Prime Video to its set-top box in a deal that will also see Prime Video made available to BT Sport subscribers for a six-month period. Amazon and BT announced in March they would work together on production of Amazon’s two slates of live games, next week and during the Christmas period. Sunset+ Vine will join BT in helping to produce studio and match coverage.

 

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