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Broadcast, Digital & Media, Future Trends, Sport Business | Sep 20, 2020 | 8 min read

9 things you need to know today about the shifting sports media landscape

By James Emmett and David Cushnan

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The current social media universe
How ATP Media and Facebook optimise and monetise content
Prime Video snares autumn rugby
Atalanta Media launches with NBC Sports deal
Barney Francis links up with WePlay
Eleven executive switches to Mediapro
Two new sports podcasts worth seeking out
Premier League tackles piracy

 

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THE BIG PICTURE

Thanks for clicking and hello from us – this is the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin, your regular briefing on sports broadcasting, content creation and distribution.

We’re rapidly approaching LeadersWeek.direct/, our online extravaganza featuring an array of interesting, provocative and compelling speakers on the major sports industry topics of the day. If you haven’t yet marked it in your diary, the key info is 5 – 8 October.

Consumption habits and how they’re changing, the sizeable new hurdles facing broadcasters and content-producing rights holders, and the way the rights market is likely to evolve are all bound to be hot topics, during the sessions and across our event platform. We’d be delighted if you were able to join us – and there’s still time to register here.

Do also keep an eye on Leaders’ social channels next week for a first look at the shortlists for this year’s Leaders Sports Awards, including the On-Screen Experience category. Good luck to everyone who entered; our judges assure us the quality was higher than ever in this most challenging of years.


THE NUMBERS

The World Economic Forum and Visual Capitalist have combined to map the current global social media universe.

Social platforms: Monthly active users:

Source: World Economic Forum/Visual Capitalist

 


PRODUCTION NOTES

In the Mixed Zone with… Stuart Taylor, Director of Consumer Services, ATP Media

 

How have you and Facebook approached the task of optimising and monetising ATP Media content over the past few months?

We’ve really had to change how we approach our content planning and creation. It’s something which has continued to evolve week-to-week during the suspension of the ATP Tour – which restarted with the Western & Southern Open in New York (normally in Cincinnati) – with a continued focus on exploiting clips from the vast ATP Tour archive. The prolonged hiatus of live tennis meant compilations, countdowns or looking back to the same week in 2019 became the most important content strands for watch times and meaningful fan engagement. Popularity grew with fans during the week the tournament was supposed to be taking place and crossposting with other pages in our network on Facebook has helped to further increase reach and drive engagement, with in-stream ads providing a welcome, new source of revenue.

We took the opportunity to regularly experiment and a focus was placed on both tournaments which were not taking place and players, by resurfacing big moments or unseen footage. Different narratives were used on social-first live stream broadcasts of videos using Grabyo Producer, which also gave us the opportunity to poll fans in-stream to choose what they wanted to see next. As practically every other sports rights holder or broadcaster was in the same position with no live events for months, we also used CrowdTangle and Tubular to see what was working on other channels and tweaked the strategy with our content agency LiveWire Sport.

What are the benefits of moving more towards longer-form content?

‘Longer-form’ for Tennis TV subscribers means sitting down to watch a 5-hour classic from the 2006 Rome Masters between Rafa and Roger while on Facebook or IGTV longer form content for us is anything three minutes or longer. If we can combine the right mix of getting fans into the action as soon as possible and provide the right combination of match action we have seen that they stick around to watch these and our other videos for longer. Our average watch time increases, the popularity of the video increases and if it’s over three minutes in length there’s a revenue upside.

We have analysed and then optimised our daily round-up videos, published during tournament weeks, so that fans now watch for longer. We now get into the action quick, and provide quicker transitions, wipes or graphics than we would on an edit for TV broadcast. It’s a challenge to get a lot of action into a six or seven minute video when there might be 20 or 25 matches from an early round of an ATP Masters 1000 tournament but Facebook Analytics and collating fan comments using Conversocial helps us shape the content output.

How have audiences and other key stakeholders like players, tournaments and broadcast partners reacted?

The reaction has been excellent. Players have been hands-on with their channels and have been accepting crosspost requests from us to post videos to their fans, while tournaments have embraced crossposting ensuring that content is distributed to the widest possible audience. Raw, unbranded edits in square or 9:16 formats are also created for our broadcast partners and made available for download via our Media Portal platform. During the suspension, downloads by broadcast partners surged and complemented other traditional, TV programming being produced by ATP Media’s in-house Content Services team.

What do you see as the next steps in your partnership with Facebook?

Now that ATP tennis has returned and a provisional calendar is in place for the remainder of 2020 it’s all about building on the success of the last few months and applying the learnings to the in-tournament content strategy, where possible. We will continue to experiment with different, enhanced social-first production techniques, in-stream ads and live streaming, where this is possible, to primarily raise awareness of the tournaments and players taking part to drive tune-in.


RIGHTS WATCH

Prime Video snares international rugby rights
Amazon Prime Video will broadcast live coverage of November’s Autumn Nations Cup, the eight-team international rugby union tournament formed at short notice by the Six Nations to replace the traditional autumn internationals. Channel 4 has also agreed a deal with Amazon to broadcast three of the games, Ireland’s clashes with Wales, England and Georgia, live in the UK, as well as free-to-air highlights. Georgia and Fiji will join England, Ireland, France, Wales, Scotland and Italy in the tournament. It is Amazon’s first foray into live rugby as Prime Video builds out a UK sports portfolio which also includes live Premier League football and year-round tennis from the ATP and WTA tours.

Brown and Negron launch Atalanta Media
Former Sky and FuboTV executive Hannah Brown has founded women’s football company Atalanta Media, alongside former professional player and sports marketer Esmerelda Negron. Funding for the project is being provided by Miami-based investment firm 777 partners. The company launched last weekend by brokering the deal for NBC Sports to broadcast England’s Women’s Super League in the US. DAZN will broadcast WSL games this season in Germany and Italy, while Atalanta Media has also launched the Ata Football brand, a digital platform for matches, highlights and behind-the-scenes content.


CONTENT/PRODUCTION

Listen up: new podcasts launch
Two new and noteworthy podcasts joining the firmament: Former World-Anti Doping Agency communications chief Ben Nichols has launched a new show, Athletes: The Other Side, which examines professional athletes’ lives outside sport. And former BBC Sport Chief Writer Tom Fordyce is part of a new group, Crowd Network, behind a new series, Death of a Sports Star, featuring the stories of the likes of Kobe Bryant and Payne Stewart.​​​​


THE JOBS BOARD

Francis to advise WePlay
Barney Francis, the former head of Sky Sports, has joined the advisory board of WePlay. The UK-based agency specialises in building out direct-to-consumer revenue streams. Francis spent a decade running Sky Sports before a brief stint as CEO of Comcast’s Future Sport division last year.

De Mojana switches to Mediapro
Mediapro has hired Federico de Mojana as Head of Development in Italy. De Mojana is joining Mediapro from Aser Ventures, where as Head of Content and Programming he oversaw Eleven Sports’ Italian output. He will be tasked with strengthening Mediapro’s presence in Italy and to identify new growth opportunities in the region.


DISTRIBUTION

Premier League tackles piracy
As its new season got underway last weekend, the Premier League launched its latest anti-piracy campaign. For the first time, it has turned its attention directly to Malaysia, Hong Kong and Indonesia with ‘Boot Out Piracy’ featuring a number of high-profile players highlighting the risks and penalties associated with viewing illegal streams. Meanwhile, the first weekend of action in the 2020/21 season played out with no official coverage in China following the Premier League’s decision to terminate its agreement with PPTV.

 

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