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Broadcast, Digital & Media, Future Trends, Sport Business | Mar 26, 2020 | 8 min read

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

By James Emmett and David Cushnan

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Fifa’s Chief Commercial Officer on unlocking the power of archive
Eleven takes Belgian football exclusivity
Bundesliga domestic rights sale on hold
Broadcasters react to Tokyo 2020 postponement
Deltatre makes commercial hires
Whisper hires ITV executive
Fubo and FaceBank confirm merger

 

Long form

THE BIG PICTURE

Welcome, one and all, to the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin, your fortnightly briefing on what’s happening – or what’s not – in the world of sports broadcast and media.

This week’s Bulletin is slightly condensed, for reasons you’ll understand, but over the coming weeks we’ll be aiming to deliver thoughts, perspectives, ideas and opinions from across the sports broadcast and media sector, so do let us know what you’d like to read and who you’d like to hear from.

As you’d expect, with many around the world stuck at home, streaming rates, podcast downloads and social media use are all experiencing sharp upticks, but today’s not the day to bombard you with statistics and market predictions; there’ll be time aplenty for that in the coming weeks and months. In the absence of live sport, we’re already seeing all manner of creative solutions employed by broadcasters and rights holders around the world to fill schedules and satisfy viewers; we’re seeing archives opened up, access to content reconsidered and virtual sports helping to fill the void.


 

PRODUCTION NOTES

In the mixed zone with…Simon Thomas, Chief Commercial Officer at FIFA, discussing the organisation’s new initiative, World Cup At Home, which sees it streaming classic Fifa World Cup matches.

What’s the idea behind World Cup At Home?
The World Cup at Home initiative or hashtag was really born out of the desire to help out football fans in a very unique time; sitting at home, no football, no live sport of any kind, and in many people, in many cases, no work – it’s not a great time for anyone. We have this incredible archive of matches from all the past Fifa World Cups – it’s valuable, it’s interesting, and we thought it would be a way to best support these fans and promote football. We have a massive football community out there are we wanted to mobilise them, connect with them. That was the motivation behind it.

It’s pretty well known that just sticking games out there online doesn’t necessarily bring huge audiences so we started thinking about how we could wrap it up into a more coherent marketing concept. We have eight million subscriptions on our YouTube channel, another six million on Weibo in China, we’re active across all the social platforms so we thought about how we could draw all that together and create a real social media event – it might sound a bit ambitious, but a virtual tournament where over the next six weeks people should have a sense of anticipation about matches coming up. They’re going to dip in and out, engage, chat and vote. The idea is to give fans the opportunity to vote for games they want to see, to chat about what they’re seeing and getting them fully engaged. It’s relief, in a way. Hopefully we’ll be able to even switch some younger fans onto these incredible, classic World Cup matches from the past that maybe they haven’t even known about until now.

A lot of rights holders are looking at what archive rights they have and how they can engage fans in this way; what were the challenges you have had to negotiate to put this package out there?

We have been quick and the team’s worked really hard on it over the last week or so, so, since the idea came up internally. You’ve got to check all the legal things, there’s commercial issues, technical ones. Commercially, you’ve got to juggle the interests of rights holders, to make sure we’re not treading on anyone’s toes. Everyone is adopting a pretty positive, collegiate attitude to the current environment, pulling together and recognising that these are unique circumstances. At the same time, we have to recognise delayed matches aren’t usually high demand and people tend to prefer shorter clips anyway, but in the current situation there’s no live sport against it and we think people will want to fill that void with something good.

The full interview with Simon Thomas is available here on the Leaders Sport Business podcast.


 

RIGHTS WATCH

Pro League confirms Eleven exclusivity
Eleven Sports has secured the domestic live broadcast rights to Belgium’s Pro League for the next five seasons on an exclusive basis. The news, first revealed in February, was confirmed last week after the final club, Antwerp, agreed to the collective deal. According to reports, the deal is worth some US$112.2 million annually to the league and its 16 clubs. Eleven, meanwhile, has turned to esports during the current hiatus in live sport, broadcasting motorsport and football competitions for viewers in Portugal and Belgium last weekend.

DFL defers Bundesliga rights sales
The DFL, which runs the country’s Bundesliga, has confirmed a delay to its latest domestic media rights tender. The organisation has received permission from Germany’s Federal Cartel Office to push back the process until June. The DFL is preparing to market the rights to its top two divisions, split into seven live packages and seven highlights and short form packages, for the 2020-21 to 2024-25 seasons.


 

CONTENT/PRODUCTION

NBC and Discovery react to Olympic postponement
The two largest Olympic rights holders have reacted to the news that this summer’s Tokyo Games have been postponed and will be held no later than the summer of 2021. A statement from US broadcaster NBC said: ‘NBCUniversal is actively working with our advertising partners to navigate this postponement, and we’re exploring all options to best serve their brands and our consumers this year, and into 2021.’ Discovery, who through its Eurosport brand holds the primary rights across Europe, added: ‘Discovery fully supports the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee’s plan to stage the Olympic Games in 2021 and to make every effort to ensure the well-being of spectators, athletes, staff and the international community. Our essential planning and deliverables are complete and will now shift into next year. We will continue to develop our products and offerings to best serve our customers and marketing partners in 2021.’


 

THE JOBS BOARD

Deltatre makes new commercial hires
Deltatre has confirmed two new appointments to its commercial team. The streaming specialist has hired Adam Bigwood from WWE and Perform executive Adam Bowley. Bigwood, a former executive at the OSN network, ran WWE’s international operations in the Middle East and North Africa and will head up Deltatre’s commercial division, reporting in to Pete Burns, the Vice President of Commercial. Bowley has been hired as Commercial Manager, working the UK market.


 

DISTRIBUTION

Platforms reduce streaming quality across Europe
YouTube and Netflix are two of the major platforms to have reduced streaming quality in Europe for a period of 30 days in an effort to reduce pressures on internet traffic, with vast numbers of people locked down at home. It follows a call from European regulators to consider such action, as demand and traffic rises across the continent.

Fubo and FaceBank announce merger
Streaming service Fubo TV is to merge with FaceBank Group, a company which specialises in the development of virtual and digital humans. Although billed officially as a merger, Fubo TV will become a subsidiary of Facebank Group while Facebank will take the FuboTV Inc. name. Facebank was originally known as Pulse Evolution and was responsible for creating holographic images of the likes of Tupac Shakur and Michael Jackson.


 

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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