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Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin: 14 things you need to know today about the shifting sports media landscape
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Turning the cameras away
Matchroom Boxing goes global with DAZN
Scooters and Serie B – what’s Helbiz up to?
Netflix’s move into ecommerce
Global advertising revenue by media owner
Accedo’s Luke Gaydon on activating in the digital space
French football rights saga rumbles on
Sky Sports unveils boxing plans
ViacomCBS secures more Australian football
Alex Willis to advise Whisper
Cameo adds Magic Johnson to board
Kevin Garnett’s new gamification and content platform
Verizon on personalised viewing experiences
Isle of Man TT to go live
Welcome to your fortnightly briefing on sports broadcasting and how content is produced, packaged, distributed and monetised. This is the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin and it’s good to have your company.
The truly harrowing images broadcast live to the world of Danish player Christian Eriksen receiving life-saving treatment on the pitch after collapsing during his country’s first Euro 2020 game on Saturday have been roundly condemned. Thankfully, Eriksen appears on the mend but for a time it seemed as if a true horror was playing out live.
The prying cameras showing Eriksen being resuscitated and the image of a distressed woman, later identified as his wife, Sabrina, on the touchline being comforted by Danish players, felt far too intrusive. Rights-holding broadcasters such as the BBC in the UK and ESPN in the US were subject to harsh criticism for continuing to broadcast the images, despite not being in control of the pictures from the stadium – the feed is provided by Uefa’s own broadcast production.
Uefa is not alone here. Last month, in MotoGP, there was widespread criticism of decisions taken to linger on the scene as Moto3 rider Jason Dupasquier received medical treatment following an accident in qualifying at Mugello. Riders in the pit-lane and many watching further afield felt the coverage, provided by MotoGP promoter Dorna’s own in-house crew, was too much. Dupasquier passed away in hospital the following morning.
Anyone who has spent even the smallest amount of time in a live sports production gallery will be aware of the snap decision-making and judgements required during a live broadcast, and in these cases it appears to have been misjudgement rather than malpractice, as a sports event effectively turned in an instant into a major news story. Nonetheless, at a time when rights holders are increasingly centralising and controlling the content they deliver to broadcasters, it is a reminder that clear and carefully considered plans need to be in place should major injury or worse occur – and when utilising local production expertise for global feed broadcasts, any potential cultural differences in what is deemed insensitive or worse to broadcast are quickly identified and central protocols adopted and adhered to.
There is an important debate about how much is appropriate to show when accident or incident occurs in a live sports environment – broadcasting nothing at all can, in certain instances, simply fuel unhelpful speculation about what has or hasn’t happened, particularly on social media – and the split-second editorial judgments are far from straightforward. But a more cautious, sensitive approach than we all saw on Saturday seems the very least that should be expected by those watching from home.
World in motion
It’s been the worst-kept secret in the sports industry but finally there is confirmation from Matchroom Boxing that it is taking its shows to DAZN on a global basis for the next five years. Matchroom Chairman Eddie Hearn had to wait until the end of the company’s long-term contract in the UK & Ireland with Sky Sports to agree the new worldwide deal, but a five-year contract has now been confirmed. DAZN is properly entering the UK market with a full boxing product – its next move and when and where it delves into acquiring UK rights in other sports will be keenly observed – while Matchroom finally has a single, global broadcast partner. In a complex sport like boxing, that simplifies matters significantly and it is no surprise that Hearn has taken the opportunity to assume control of the broadcast and production of his fight nights, which will now be handled primarily by his Matchroom Media division. Beyond boxing, monitoring how DAZN and Matchroom work this global deal will be telling. There are several other examples of sports selling rights on a global basis to a single broadcaster – Amazon with its NFL games springs to mind – but sport more generally has always fallen back on the traditional rights sales by geographic market. With DAZN, Amazon and Disney, and potentially Comcast, ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia all in play and with the capability of handling global distribution, plus the likes of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, and, who knows, even some day a Netflix, there’s probably a greater chance than ever that over time the seemingly fixed geographic boundaries that have governed broadcast rights for decades may melt away in favour of the single, worldwide agreement model.
He scoots, he scores
There’s an intriguing new player in the Italian sports broadcast game. Helbiz, a manufacturer of electric scooters and with a mission to provide micromobility solutions to unite communities, has acquired a package of domestic Italian rights to Serie B, the country’s second football league. It has also been appointed to sell the league’s international rights. The rights are non-exclusive, with Sky also having secured Serie B games until 2024, but they will anchor Helbiz’s new direct-to-consumer platform. Helbiz Media has been formed to support New York-headquartered Helbiz’s primary business. Matteo Mammi, a former Sky Italia sports rights executive, has been hired as CEO of the media business, which has global ambitions. The Italian element of the plan appears to be built around increasing awareness of and engagement with Helbiz in the 20 cities – many of them a rung below the country’s major city hubs in terms of population – where Serie B teams are located via a live content strategy, to be called Helbiz Live. It’s the latest example of the ‘everyone’s a broadcaster’ trend but Helbiz is certainly a company worth watching. Aside from its streaming plans, it is in the midst of a tie-up with the GreenVision Acquisition SPAC, which the company says will help fund a move into developing ghost kitchens and building out a food delivery service alongside its core scooter business.
Netflix and shill
It doesn’t stop the headlines every time a major rights package comes to market, but the shrewdest observers of Netflix do not anticipate the on-demand streaming giant making a move into live sports programming, at least in the near future. That may change as a new wave of competitors, with live sport as part of their armoury, consolidate and assemble but in the short-term it seems far more likely that Netflix’s sports output will continue to revolve around behind-the-scenes documentaries such as F1’s Drive to Survive and Sunderland ‘Til I Die. That is not to say, however, that Netflix can’t be a potential direct revenue stream for rights holders. News that Netflix has opened an online shop – Amazon, anyone? – and is beginning to move into merchandise and branded product sales linked to its top shows is certainly noteworthy, as is the recent growth in its consumer products team from 20 people to 60. While it currently has ‘boutique’ status, selling only a limited range of products to new Netflix shows such as Lupin, Eden and Yasuke, the potential is clear for an F1, or even a Sunderland. Drive to Survive has proved an enormous success for F1 in taking the sport to a new, albeit casual, audience; serving and selling that audience official merchandise – or even one day race tickets – on the same platform, as they are nudged towards full fandom, would seem like an obvious and potential lucrative way to seize on the positive momentum of the documentary series.
The GroupM agency’s mid-year analysis says that it expects global advertising to grow by 19% in 2021, excluding US political advertising. According to the forecast, the 25 largest media companies accounted for 67% of all industry advertising revenue in 2020, compared to just 42% in 2016, as market consolidation continues. The top five advertising sellers in 2020 – Google, Facebook, Alibaba, Bytedance and Amazon – collectively generated US$296 billion in advertising revenue last year, or 46% of the global total. The top five ten years earlier generated US$70 billion, or 17% of the global total in 2010.
Source: GroupM Global 2021 Mid-Year Advertising Forecast
(Note: PF = Pro Forma to account for major M&A transactions across all periods)
In the Mixed Zone with… Luke Gaydon, Business Development, Sports at Accedo.
What area of broadcast technology is particularly exciting you?
Accedo has been a pioneer in the video streaming space for nearly two decades. As such we’ve had a front-row seat for the digitisation of broadcasting. The cloud-based infrastructure supporting broadcasters and right holders operating video streaming services has become stabler, cheaper and easier to use. This has freed up time, money and focus on the next generation of user experiences. Accedo’s mission statement is ‘transform the video experience’ and it’s here that we’re seeing the most exciting developments whether that’s the application of artificial intelligence to create a dynamic, data-driven UX or the incorporation of 3D content into smartphone applications.
In terms of monetisation, how can sponsorships be more effectively activated in the digital space?
The presentation of sponsors in-app is often very one-dimensional with sponsor content limited to their logo. The logo may be displayed prominently but offers little, or no, further opportunity for engagement between app users and the sponsor brand. Sponsor content should be woven into the in-app user journey in a way that creates meaningful opportunities for users to engage and so that it feels like it’s part of the experience as opposed to something that’s been bolted on at short notice and with little thought. This means looking beyond the logo space to develop content that users can interact with as part of their overall experience within the app.
How can broadcasters, brands, teams and leagues be more creative in this space? Where are the opportunities for seamless integration?
As above, by looking beyond the logo space. Unless the sponsor brand has a longstanding (10+ years) relationship with a sport, team or tournament, then just putting a sponsor’s logo somewhere in-app isn’t going to be enough to turn those fans into brand advocates and customers. Fans want to interact with authentic, engaging content. Larger brands like Pepsi and Visa have been using Augmented Reality (AR) content for a number of years now. The technology supporting the creation and distribution of AR content has matured to the point where we can create 3D models for as little as $5,000 and embed that content into an existing smartphone app via the use of weblinks generated by Accedo’s AR middleware. So if your app supports weblinks, it’s AR-ready. How’s that for seamless integration?
What do rights holders and/or broadcasters need to be thinking about in the long term, in terms of integration and monetising broadcast technology such as AR?
Snapchat claims that 70% of its users play with its AR Lenses every day – this type of technology is becoming mainstream for that demographic. This means that a large section of an audience will start to expect this type of technology to be available in the services they interact with, i.e. it’s ‘table-stakes’. Broadcasters and rights holders would be well advised to consider how to meet this expectation in terms of their product roadmap. We’ve also seen an explosion in the use of AR in ecommerce, driven by the increase in online shopping as a result of the pandemic. For broadcasters and rights holders who operate their own OTT service, this represents an opportunity to integrate AR content into their fan funnel and increase core revenue streams such as ticketing, merchandising and sponsorship.
French rights saga rumbles on
There’s been another controversial twist in the saga of French football’s domestic rights sale, with Canal+ withdrawing from a deal after Amazon was confirmed as having acquired the bulk of the rights for the next three seasons – its biggest domestic football rights deal yet. Amazon has secured eight games per week, equating to 304 across each season, in a package which includes ten top picks. Reports suggest that the deal is worth €275 million per season to the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP), which was forced to re-market the rights following the collapse of its deal with Mediapro. However, Canal+’s secondary deal for two games per week, for which it is reportedly paying €330 million per season is now in question. That deal was agreed at the same time as the original Mediapro agreement was struck, but in March a court ruled in favour of the LFP which argued that it did not have to include the rights package Canal+ acquired when it went back to market with the rights Mediapro gave up. Canal+, which stepped in to show the remainder of games last season when Mediapro withdrew, is now threatening a boycott as it is left paying a significantly higher sum than Amazon for far fewer live games.
Sky Sports unveils new boxing plans
Sky Sports has responded to Matchroom Boxing’s decision to move its roster to DAZN by signing four-year agreements with US promoter Top Rank and UK-based BOXXER. With Top Rank, Sky will broadcast at least 18 international fight nights per year in the UK and Ireland whilst also getting access to the promoter’s extensive archive of fights. BOXXER was founded by the UK’s youngest licensed promoter, Ben Shalom. It will work with Sky Sports and other promoters to arrange fights, while the partnership also includes a commitment to work with the British Boxing Board of Control on developing initiatives to support grassroots boxing.
ViacomCBS adds further Australian football rights
Following last month’s deal for A-League and W-League rights, ViacomCBS has made another substantial investment in Australian football rights by agreeing a deal with Football Australia until the end of 2024. The rights package includes all Australian national men’s and women’s team games outside the World Cup, as well as the Asian Cup and FFA Cup. The deal is reportedly worth AUS$100 million, adding to the AUS$200 million ViacomCBS will pay for domestic league rights over the next five years. In a separate deal, Optus Sports has acquired the rights to broadcast the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup in Australia, which will host the tournament alongside New Zealand.
Willis to advise Whisper
Production company Whisper has added Wimbledon’s Alexandra Willis to its advisory board. Willis, who is Communications and Marketing Director at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, will sit alongside the likes of former New Zealand rugby captain Sean Fitzpatrick. Whisper, meanwhile, has been appointed to produce behind the scenes content from the upcoming British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa.
Cameo adds Magic to board
Personalised messaging app Cameo has appointed NBA legend Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson to its board of directors. He will also join the app and record messages for fans. “Our long-term vision is to build technology that enables every single athlete, actor and entertainer to develop a personal relationship with every fan,” said Steven Galanis, Cameo’s Chief Executive Officer. “Magic is the first person coming to the boardroom that has been there, done that.”
Garnett and Messler launch gamification and content company
Former NBA star Kevin Garnett and Players Tribune co-founder Jaymee Messler have teamed up to create a ‘gamificaton and content company’, Gaming Society. According to Forbes, which first reported the news, the company will ‘amplify fan engagement using games, betting, athlete integration and immersive social experiences while educating and empowering bettors’. Meanwhile, another betting content platform, the Action Network, has agreed a deal with Major League Baseball, which will see its content published on the league’s digital platforms, the creation of a new betting analysis show and appearances by Action Network talent on MLB platforms.
Watch: personalised video
Amongst a host of really good contributions at our recent LeadersWeek.direct/ virtual event, Verizon Media’s Head of Video Product Management Darren Lepke’s stood out. He joined us to explore the personalisation of sports viewing options when we asked him; what appetite he’s seeing in the market for personalised viewing? What are the best, tried and tested methods of bringing personalisation to bear on the sports viewing experience? Who’s doing this stuff well inside and outside sport? What technology or innovation is he keeping his eye on? And what will personalisation actually looking like in five years’ time when it comes to sports viewing? The answers are fascinating, so if you’re already signed up and enjoying our online library of sessions you can watch here, or if not, sign up and access everything here.
Isle of Man TV goes live
Organisers of the annual Isle of Man TT motorcycle road races have unveiled plans for a new streaming product that will broadcast qualifying and race coverage live from 2022. Coverage has previously been limited to highlights due to the complexities of live production across the 37-mile circuit. The new service, which will be aimed at spectators on the island as well as those watching from afar, will also include original content on a year-round basis.
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