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Broadcast, Digital & Media, Future Trends, Sport Business | Nov 12, 2020 | 8 min read

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

By James Emmett and David Cushnan

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Short form

CNN points the way for sports broadcasts
Premier League prepares post-PPV plan
Spotify acquires Megaphone
Nielsen changes pave way for targeted ads
America’s leading sports media creators
Who said what and what it means at Media Innovators
Nine confirms rugby deal; Stan Sports launch
Pitaro announces new ESPN leadership
Kevin Mayer to advise DAZN owner
Knight to step away from Cage Warriors
Take-Two to acquire F1 game developer
Eleven plots global move after MyCujoo buyout

 

Long form

THE BIG PICTURE

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Whatever your politics, it would be hard to have watched any of CNN’s blanket US election coverage last week and be anything other than hugely impressed with the production, graphics and studio set-up.

The stars of the multi-day show were anchors Wolf Blitzer, John King and King’s so-called ‘magic wall’, which allowed him to pinpoint key counties, oceans of historical data and a mass of other pertinent information with a single swipe of the screen.

If coverage of the counts had at times the feel of a sports broadcast, perhaps there’s also a lesson or two for those tasked with bringing sport to the masses, particularly in the way King and his production team were able to make complex data accessible, visually-appealing and understandable.

Avid politicos and intrigued relative newcomers to the minutiae of the US political system around the world were equally well-served, which was no mean feat.

Touchscreen analysis, of course, has become almost de rigueur in any sports broadcast of note, with the best expert pundits mastering the technology to provide genuine insight on key plays, goals and tactics.

But at a time when sports broadcasters, leagues and teams are intent – and increasingly contractually-bound – on layering in more and more data, much of it real-time, into their content and coverage – be it athlete heart rates, live data from bikes or cars, AI-powered predictions or betting information, or, more likely, a combination of several of those all at once – it might be worth a careful review of what King and CNN did and how they did it.

As they proved, the raw numbers are nothing without clear context.


EYES ON THIS – Watch how these three things develop to understand the future

Pay per review
Standby for an announcement from the Premier League on a “change of direction” as it reviews its decision to make games not already selected for broadcast in October available for UK£14.95 a time. “We are reviewing that decision. We’ve listened to feedback. While we can’t announce anything today, we will be changing direction and moving away from it,” said Premier League CEO Richard Masters in an appearance before the UK parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee on Tuesday. “We will take another step that will probably take us through lockdown, Christmas and then into January.”

Audio monetisation
Spotify’s latest acquisition, a US$235 million deal for podcast advertising and publishing platform Megaphone, is its latest move to double-down on on-demand audio monetisation. Megaphone, formerly known as Panoply Media, provides tech for podcast publishers and advertisers to target slots within podcast episodes. As it looks to new ways to monetise audio on both its own platform and beyond, Spotify plans to make its ‘Streaming Ad Insertion’ tool available to all podcast publishers, at a stroke increasing its influence across the podcast measurement and data capture space.

Targeted TV advertising
Nielsen’s announcement this week that it will begin measuring targeted advertising in the US next year, potentially paving the way for brands to direct adverts more specifically to consumers in the same way they do online. To make it happen, Nielsen will begin measuring adverts individually rather than the audience for all adverts during each programme


THE NUMBERS

New data collated by Tubular has provided a snapshot of America’s leading sports media creators on YouTube and Facebook during September by unduplicated US audience and average time spent consuming content. The data was foregrounded by Simon Andrews, founder and CEO of Additive, during his presentation in Tuesday’s Media Innovators broadcast. While WWE and the major leagues lead the way in terms of overall minutes watched, it is Fox Sports’ Skip & Shannon Undisputed daily debate show which garnered the highest minutes watched per viewer, with an average of nearly 59 minutes over the month.

Source: Tubular


PRODUCTION NOTES

In the Mixed Zone with… Lucas von Cranach, CEO of OneFootball, the news and scores football app that has recently begun broadcasting live games.

How did the agreement with Bundesliga to broadcast games in Brazil come about?
We have a global audience but in Brazil and South America, we have a very strong footprint. The rights owners and holders were very open in the discussions with us, and we knew that we were not the only ones in the process but in the end we could convince – as we had already done with Sky in Germany – with our model. We could convince with what our ambitions were.

How does the model work?
We are literally a distribution partner – we have a deal with Sportfive. They have the licensing deal with Bundeliga and we were the distribution partner for the rights. That’s a model we really like. We have decided, with Bundelsiga and Sportfive, that the smartest way to address the market would be with free-to-air distribution, which is a huge market disruption because all these rights have been behind paywalls. The reason we could afford to go down this route is we already have a huge audience in Brazil and Latin America; this is our first live offering, to give users an experience. Looking at the first couple of matchdays, we can say it’s a great success and the numbers are higher than expected.

How is OneFootball benefiting from these kind of deals?
It’s two-fold. We have two streams. We either offer matches free-to-air, or on a pay-per-view basis. When it comes to free-to-air, the rights owners get a huge distribution of that content, recognition, market prescence and brand marketing with a very young target group. And OneFootball benefits because free-to-air rights are a retention driver and a driver of engagement. From a financial perspective, we have come up with solutions to sell the ad inventory programmatically. If we look at the paid side, it’s the same thing. With the Bundesliga or 2.Bundesliga or DFB Pokal, we have a flexible pay-per-view model which is applicable for a young audience because they want to decide what they’re going to watch and want to be selective.

What do you see as the big challenges rights holders are facing in finding new markets for their live rights?
The whole industry has to realise that when we continue to ask for more money for rights, domestically and internationally, it will lead to further fragmentation and higher price points for the customers – and the customers will probably not want to follow that, especially younger auidences… My sense is everyone thinks the party is still continuing but it seems the corona crisis has shown there are limits to the party, in terms of trying to ask for more and higher prices for live rights. I understand the pressure for clubs and for leagues representing the clubs that they’re in a competitive landscape and need to be in a position to buy players and finance their businesses, but if you do that approach and forget the customer, what we’re running into is, I fear, football as not a mass sport anymore. If we’re putting everything behind paywalls and it’s not accessible and it’s very expensive, young audiences will not grow up watching football. That’s something we really need to be careful with. I’m not saying everything is over – definitely not – but I want to create awareness that there are hundreds of millions of young people who love the sport and want to watch it, but if the industry and ecosystem doesn’t allow them to participate, we are creating a silo.”

Lucas von Cranach was speaking during the Leaders and SBJ Media Innovators global broadcast on Tuesday.


RIGHTS WATCH

Rugby Australia firms up Nine deal
Super Rugby games will be broadcast live on free-to-air television in Australia for the first time, following confirmation of Nine’s new rights deal with Rugby Australia. The agreement, confirmed this week, brings to an end months of speculation about which network would strike a deal with the governing body. Rugby Australia has elected to end a long-term partnership with Foxtel to form a relationship with Nine said to be worth AUS$100 million over three years. An option for a further two years is included in the contract. Nine will broadcast all Australia games and one Super Rugby game per week via its free-to-air channel from next year. The remainder of games included in the contract – other Super Rugby games, as well as the rest of the Rugby Championships, plus coverage from New Zealand’s Mitre Cup and South Africa’s Currie Cup – will be broadcast on a new sports streaming channel, Stan Sport. The Nine-owned Stan already has 2.2 million subscribers across Australia but its new sport offering will require an additional fee, although games will be broadcast advert-free.


THE JOBS BOARD

ESPN reworks exec team after confirming layoffs
After announcing a major round of layoffs last week, ESPN President James Pitaro has confirmed his new executive team. Rob King will have oversight of the company’s journalism, while Tina Thornton will lead content operations. Burke Magnus will be responsible for ESPN and ESPN+ original content and scheduling, in addition to his current programming brief. Executive vice president of content Connor Schell will leave ESPN in January and has announced plans to form his own production company, with ESPN as his first client. Executive vice president of content operations and creative services Jodi Markley will retire in April. Citing the ongoing impact of the pandemic, Pitaro confirmed news of 300 redundancies last Thursday, along with the elimination of 200 open positions. A raft of ESPN employees took to Twitter later that day to confirm they had lost their jobs.

Blavatnik hires Mayer as media advisor
DAZN parent Access Industries has hired former Disney executive Kevin Mayer as a senior media advisor. Mayer, who left Tik Tok suddenly in August after a short-lived stint as CEO, has been tasked with identifying new opportunities in media, entertainment and telecoms, according to a statement from Access Industries, the company founded by Len Blavatnik that owns DAZN and Warner Music Group. During his spell at Disney, Mayer was credited with the launch of Disney+ before leaving after being overlooked for the CEO position vacated by Bob Iger.

FitzGerald gets more hands-on at Cage Warriors
Former Racecourse Media Group CEO Richard FitzGerald is to take on a more active role in the day-to-day management of Cage Warriors, the MMA promotion he became Chair of earlier this year. Casimir Knight is to step away from his position as CEO of Cage Warriors, but will continue to provide media consultancy to FitzGerald. Knight delivered a management buyout of Cage Warriors in 2016, with FitzGerald along with Oli Slipper and Mickey O’Rourke as key investors. The promotion broke even last year and turned a profit for the first time this year.


CONTENT/PRODUCTION

Take-Two makes offer for Codemasters
Codemasters, the studio that develops Formula 1’s official video games, has received a takeover offer from Take-Two Interactive Software, the producer of the 2K range of games for the likes of the NBA and PGA Tour. Take-Two has offered US$973 million for the British company, which Codemasters’ board is now evaluating. As well as its long-time role as the producer of official Formula 1 games, Codemasters also has a contract with the World Rally Championship to produce an annual game from 2023, as well as a partnership with Motorsport Games for a variety of esports competitions.


 

DISTRIBUTION

Eleven acquires MyCujoo
Eleven’s acquisition of live streaming company MyCujoo, confirmed on Monday, has its roots in the long-time support of Eleven CEO Luis Vicente for the live streaming company’s co-founders, compatriots Pedro and João Presa. The Presas have presided over the growth of a company that in 2019 streamed over 22,000 matches from 3,500 content creators to more than 26 million unique users. In announcing the takeover, Eleven’s statement said it ‘lays the foundation for a new global Eleven service’. Vicente added: “Over the next few months we will become the home for sports democratisation – premium, professional, semi-professional, amateur, long-tail, new-tail, real and virtual’.

 

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