Broadcast, Digital & Media, Future Trends, Sport Business | Aug 20, 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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Made-for-TV mini-tournaments
The media, tech, entertainment universe
Doug Perlman on valuing rights
NFL and Sky to launch channel
Sounders sign local Amazon deal
NBA latest to use LiveLike technology
Hertha Berlin documentary on the way
Former Fox man joins NEP
Tyler exits Football Marketing Asia
Tencent acquires stake in mobile games firm
Radrizzani launches new streaming platform


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This is the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin, your informed briefing on global sports broadcasting, content creation and distribution. Thanks, as ever, for clicking.

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Quick programming note: We’ve another of our live expert conversations happening next week, this one with a content and broadcast twist. We’ll be focusing on remote production and its growing importance for all sports organisations, with the help of our guests from Arsenal, Blackbird and recently-launched esports and gaming network VENN. It’s free to join us, next Wednesday at 15.00 BST (10.00 ET) – all you need to do is register here.

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This past couple of weeks have seen Uefa’s two club competitions resume after the pandemic halted proceedings back in March. The final stages of the Uefa Champions League and the Uefa Europa League have been compressed into single locations and a three-week mini tournament, with one-off games replacing the usual two-legged affairs. From BT Sport’s resumed blanket coverage in the UK to new US rights holder CBS’s impressive start, with a production originating from London, broadcasters and audiences have appeared to relish the new format – games night after night, with something of the feel of a major national team championship.

All the signs point to a return to the usual format next season, with more games spread across the continent and the calendar, and the Champions League in particular is of course a hugely lucrative commercial juggernaut as is, but this might just be the moment for clubs and broadcasters to begin a conversation about the possibility of an end-of-season, Final Four-style, made-for-broadcast tournament. Something new for fans, something meaty and new for broadcasters and after the experiences in Germany and Lisbon recently certainly something worth considering.


In the mixed zone with… Doug Perlman, Founder and CEO of Sports Media Advisors, which helps sports properties across North America optimise their multi-platform distribution strategies. 

How are you approaching the challenge of different rights being valued differently by different broadcast media companies?
When we are entering a rights negotiation, the first thing we’ll do, as any property would, is to try and build a model to try and make a case for the value of those rights. And that’s become an increasingly complicated exercise because the entities with whom we’re speaking all have different businesses. There was a time when it was just broadcast networks and their business was advertising, which lent itself to one model. And then there were cable networks, with dual revenue streams and subscriptions etc. Now it’s become more complex because folks you might bring these rights to really are in different businesses. If you’re talking to a sports cable network and to an Amazon, they’re in a different  business – they have different levers, they have different ways to monetise the rights. So you really have to try and think about what the rights are worth in the hands of very different businesses. It’s more challenging but very exciting for properties to think about how they can work with all sorts of different people.

That can extend even to the people and internal culture within organisations – is that something you’re seeing?
We do. It’s definitely a fact of the industry that when individuals change within different organisations the appetite for certain types of property will change, whether it’s because of a personal interest or just different visions of where growth opportunities are. Sometimes people say, ‘what are these rights worth?’ That never lends itself to a short answer. There are so many variables at play that can impact the value of rights once you enter a negotiation, and one of those is certainly who the executives are that are making the decisions.

Is this the moment to divide media rights revenue in a different way?
My instinct is that what’s happening today is probably not going to lead to a fundamental shift in how dollars are divided or deals are structured, or rights are controlled. I don’t think that will be driven by everything that Covid has led us to. Having said that, I think there have to be discussions within the ecosystems of different sports, where people will have to be creative or maybe carve the pie up differently. But I don’t view that as a long-term change to the way rights or revenues are addressed. To the extent that there was a sport suffering from a challenged model before, the issues that have arisen may accelerate the pace of change and lead folks to be more open to different structures and paradigms. But I don’t think Covid and all the challenges it has given rise to will change the way sports are structured or the way revenues are divided.

Doug Perlman was talking to iX.co’s Dave Nugent during Leaders Week Direct in May, available to watch here


NFL and Sky launch dedicated channel
A hint as to the significance of the NFL’s new broadcast arrangement with Sky Sports featured in the press release announcing the deal, with quotes included from Commissioner Roger Goodell and Sky UK CEO Stephen van Rooyen. The league has become the latest sport to get its own standalone channel on the Sky Sports Network, as part of a new five-year agreement. The new Sky Sports NFL channel launches on 3rd September and will run programming 24 hours a day, including NFL content from Sky’s Comcast stablemate NBC Sports. Sky will broadcast a minimum of five live games a week when the new season gets underway in September. The NFL now sits alongside the Premier League, Football, Cricket, Formula 1 and golf in having its own dedicated Sky Sports channel.

Sounders switch it up with Amazon
Amazon has agreed a local market media rights deal with Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders. The three-year agreement will see Amazon show all non-nationally televised Sounders games in Washington State, where the team is based. Amazon is effectively replacing YouTube TV as the Sounders’ local broadcast partner.


LiveLike strikes NBA deal
The NBA has become the latest league to utilise LiveLike technology to allow fans to watch games together online during the upcoming play-offs. The feature will be available to fans via the NBA app, as part of a partnership between LiveLike, the NBA and Turner Sports. LiveLike recently worked on a similar feature to enhance Sky Sports’ coverage of the Premier League in the UK.

New original to focus on Hertha Berlin
Oscar-winning director James Marsh is to lead on a new four-part series examining the city of Berlin through football club Hertha BSC. Marsh, who won an Oscar for ‘Man on Wire’, will work with Pulse Films on the project. They had access to the inner sanctum of the Bundesliga club last season. The project has the working title ‘Welcome to Berlin’ and is now going into production.


Sullivan joins NEP
Former Fox, Sky Deutschland and Sky UK executive Brian Sullivan has been named Chief Executive of technical production specialists NEP. Sullivan joins NEP from McKinsey & Company, where he has held an advisory role over the last year. He was previously President and COO of Fox Networks Group.

Tyler exits Football Marketing Asia
David Tyler has left his role as Chief Operating Officer of Football Marketing Asia, the agency he co-founded as DDMC Fortis with Patrick Murphy. He is returning to Europe, but will be retained as a strategic advisor. Football Marketing Asia holds the Asian Football Confederation’s media rights from 2021 to 2028.


Tencent further builds out gaming portfolio
Chinese giant Tencent has acquired a stake in French mobile games specialist Voodoo. Reuters reported Tencent’s investment was around US$200 million, valuing the company at US$1.4 billion. Telecrunch describes Voodoo as a publisher of ‘hyper-casual games’, which can be created at speed to serve a single purpose.

Radrizzani launches LIVENow
Aser Ventures has this week launched its new streaming platform LIVENow. The brainchild of Aser’s Andrea Radrizzani, LIVENow will offer flexible pay-per-view access to live events across sport, music, fitness and industry conferences. During its beta phase, the platform has broadcast live Serie C and Coppa Italia football, as well as English FA Cup games and last week’s UK Pro Series – Classic Week tennis event.

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