Broadcast, Digital & Media, Future Trends, Sport Business | Jul 9, 2020 | 8 min read

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

By James Emmett and David Cushnan

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Two decades of the BBC Sport website
Eleven’s Anouk Mertens on a new, fairer rights model
NBC picks up Fox’s golf rights
New F1 broadcast deals in several markets
Eleven links up with Mediapro
Whisper makes big move into cricket
Deltatre to build digital platforms for Sinclair
James Rushton becomes Acting CEO at DAZN
Industry veterans launch River Media Partners agency
Fubo strikes Disney deal
Nielsen confirms plans lay off staff


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Hello and welcome to the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin, a neatly assembled briefing on all that’s shiny, eyebrow-raising and important in the world of sports broadcasting and content.

Thanks for all your notes, passing along industry information or gossip. They’re all very welcome. Keep them coming to [email protected] and [email protected].

A couple of quick parish notices before we go any further. Firstly, we’re still accepting nominations for this year’s Leaders Sports Awards. Clearly, they’ll look and feel a bit different this year – more details on that to follow – but the mission remains the same: to shine a light on the most innovative work and impressive individuals. There’s seven categories through which you can showcase your best work, plus our annual Leaders Under 40 awards, and the deadline for entries is a week tomorrow, on the 17th July. You can find all the details here.


Last weekend marked 20 years since the BBC Sport website was launched. The site offered a full retrospective here, including details of design and technology changes, and it also revealed the site’s five biggest days, in terms of UK browsers.

Source: BBC Sport



In the mixed zone with… Anouk Mertens, Chief Operating Officer, Eleven Sports


What does the recent Bundesliga domestic TV deal in Germany tell you about the state of the sports rights market?
It’s a difficult one to answer. If I look at the last few months and what has happened, with no live rights available, you could argue that has triggered the appetite for more live rights once everything gets back. On the hand, we’ve also seen how important it is to work together within the business with all stakeholders – not only platforms and broadcasters, but clubs and leagues and everyone together. What we’ve seen from a broadcaster or platform perspective is a lot of the risk of losing live rights for a time end up with the platform. We strongly believe that going forward there needs to be a different model – a more risk-share model, and how that affects the level of rights is to be seen. I think we are on the verge of looking at a completely new and improved ecosystem – at least we think it’s important that that happens.

Where is the best opportunity to usher in this new kind of fairer ecosystem?
When we look at the rights we currently have and the conversations we are having, we are moving slowly – especially when you look at soccer clubs and the way they’re structured. When you look at our model and the way we want to work together in the markets we’re active in, it’s very much about partnerships and getting a new model into place. At Eleven, we’re also platform agnostic which means we want to bring in the rights and live games in each market to as many people as possible – we want to tie in partners to that conversation and ask ‘how can you help us?’ to achieve that. That’s something we are focusing on and pushing on, but we’re not there yet and at this stage it’s difficult to say what will move first.

The full interview with Anouk Mertens is available now on the Leaders Sport Business podcast.


NBC takes on Fox’s golf rights
The United States Golf Association has transferred the rights to the US Open and other key events from Fox to NBC with immediate effect, following Fox’s decision to end its deal early. It is understood that with this year’s US Open rescheduled for September, Fox was unable to commit to its regular coverage due to clashes with the NFL. NBC has now taken over the remainder of Fox’s deal, which ran until 2026, to reinforce a golf portfolio which also includes the PGA Tour, Open Championship and Ryder Cup. Fox signed a 12-year deal, worth US$1.1 billion, in 2013 for the period from 2015 to 2027. Various media outlets have reported that NBC’s deal is worth significantly less annually to the USGA.

F1 secures new broadcast deals
Sky Italia has signed a two-year extension to its contract with Formula One, covering the 2021 and 2022 seasons. The broadcaster will continue to run a dedicated Formula One channel in Italy, similar to that run by Sky in the UK. Four races per season in Italy are currently broadcaster free-to-air, on the TV8 channel. Sky’s Formula One deals in the UK and Germany run until 2024. Formula One has struck new broadcast deals this week with ServusTV and ORF in Austria, and Match TV in Russia. It has also signed an agreement with M2A Media to ‘acquire, process and distribute’ live content to global broadcasters.


Eleven links up with Mediapro
Eleven Sports has agreed a major strategic partnership with Spanish giant Mediapro, which will see the two organisations collaborate on a variety of projects. In the first instance, Mediapro, which is shortly launching its Telefoot channel in France, will produce Eleven’s coverage of the Pro League in Belgium and set up an operation in the country. Eleven has also agreed a distribution deal for the Pro League with Orange Belgium. The telco will make the three new dedicated Pro League channels Eleven is planning available to its customers for the next five years.

Whisper makes cricket play
Production company Whisper has confirmed three new cricket contracts. It has begun producing the BBC’s new peak time highlights show, which began this week as England’s Test Series with the West Indies got underway, and has agreed separate deals with the England and Wales Cricket Board for online highlights, and Spark Sport and TVNZ’s coverage of New Zealand international cricket. Production will be led by Rob Williams, alongside a team including Mark Cole, Sarah Warnock, Anne Somerset and Chris Hurst. The new cricket contracts adds to a Whisper highlights portfolio that also includes Channel 4’s coverage of Formula One, as well as W Series, Women’s Super League, NFL and SailGP.

Deltatre signs deal with Sinclair RSNs
Deltatre is to build and operate digital platforms for the US regional sports networks owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group. The multi-year agreement covers the 21 Fox networks acquired by Sinclair last year, which hold rights to over 40 major league teams and a total of around 74 million subscribers.


Rushton replaces Denyer at DAZN
A significant change at DAZN, where James Rushton has been named Acting CEO in place of Simon Denyer. Denyer, one of the founders of DAZN, has taken in a new role at parent company Access Industries to ‘advise on new ventures in sports’. Rushton has most recently served as DAZN Group’s Chief Revenue Officer. The streaming service has also brought in Access Industries’ Ed McCarthy to help deliver the group’s strategy.



Trio launch River Media Partners
Former Premiership Rugby Commercial Director Dominic Hayes and former IMG executives Ben Nicholas and Nick Chesworth have teamed up to launched River Media Partners. Described as a ‘sports media agency’, the trio have agreed a deal with the Rugby Football Union to manage the media rights of the second-tier Greene King Championship and Women’s Premier 15s tournaments. River Media Partners is also working with Rugby Europe on the development of its club and international competition structure. Broadcaster Mark Nicholas and InCrowd Sports founder Aiden Cooney have been appointed non-executive directors of the new venture.

Fubo strikes Disney deal
US streaming service FuboTV has signed a multi-year distribution agreement with Disney Media Networks, which will see Fubo subscribers gain access to ESPN’s suit of channels. The deal is Fubo’s first major piece of business since it was acquired earlier this year by FaceBank Group.



Nielsen confirms job cuts
Nielsen has announced plans to reduce its workforce by around 3,500, equivalent to around 8% of its global employees. The ratings and measurement giant plans to reveal further details of what it calls a “broad-based optimisation plan” during its next earnings call, although CEO David Kenny was quoted in a statement on Tuesday saying: “We have made the difficult decision to exit selected businesses and markets and permanently reduce our workforce”.


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