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Broadcast, Digital & Media, Future Trends, Sport Business | Oct 15, 2020 | 8 min read

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

By James Emmett and David Cushnan

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Short form

The Premier League’s pricepoint problem
Biden v Trump by sports broadcast ad spend
NBC’s Molly Solomon details Olympic plans
Movistar+ renews F1 deal in Spain
Tennis Channel gets ATP exclusivity in US
NBC’s Yaccarino takes on expanded brief
New job title for Jimmy Pitaro
Chibani promoted at CAA Eleven
New production role for Brian Gordon
PGA Tour adds betting to TV coverage
Amazon adds on-demand replays to NFL
Tencent consolidates Chinese online gaming market

 

Long form

THE BIG PICTURE

TWelcome to the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin, your fortnightly briefing on sports broadcasting, content creation and distribution. Good to have you along.

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The reaction was instant and scathing. Within minutes of the Premier League’s announcement last Friday that it would be making all games not already selected for live television broadcast in October available to UK viewers on a pay-per-view basis, fans, former players and other observers appeared united in condemnation.

The problem wasn’t the plan itself, a temporary and clearly imperfect solution given the UK government’s continuing ban on fans attending games, but how much it intends to charge for games not deemed attractive enough to make the original broadcast list.

UK£14.99 per game – significantly more, as has been pointed out, than, for example, a month’s subscription to Netflix – is a pricepoint out of kilter with most reasonable assessments. Tellingly, perhaps, the price was not mentioned in the Premier League’s own press release announcing the news. That was left to Sky Sports and BT Sport, although, save for production costs, neither broadcaster is understood to be in line for any revenue as part of the arrangement.

The Premier League – essentially one of the UK’s most significant forms of entertainment, particularly at a time when so much else is limited – is under pressure from all sides. Rightly or wrongly, it is expected to play a part in the financial rescue package that it looks increasingly likely many clubs further down the English football pyramid require. Its member clubs, meanwhile, are under increasing revenue pressure, in the absence of matchday income.

However, save for the data it will doubtless collect about fans’ willingness to pay directly for the product – important information as the Premier League ponders a direct-to-consumer future – it remains hard to see how the £14.99 pricepoint has been reached. Presumably it’s in direct proportion to the average £30 + cost of a ticket to a Premier League game; and also proportionate to the value the Premier League has already extracted from its current £4.46 billion three-year agreements with Sky and BT. But the product sold there, is not the product being packaged at £14.99. It will attract some club diehards, but it will repel everyone else; and will it turn out to be worth the PR hit?


THE NUMBERS

US presidential candidate Joe Biden is spending nearly four times more on television advertising during national sports broadcasts than Donald Trump, according to data compiled by Sport Business Journal’s David Broughton. The figures, which show both candidates spending the most money on spots during NFL broadcasts, cover the period from August 17th, when the Democratic National Convention began, until election day, in two and a half weeks, on Monday 3rd November.

Source: SBJ/David Broughton (Currently scheduled spend for period between 17 August and 3 November 2020)


PRODUCTION NOTES

In the Mixed Zone with…Molly Solomon, Executive Producer and President of NBC Sports Olympics.

What impact has the postponement of the Tokyo Games until next year had on NBC?
We really viewed postponement as a reset. For all of us, I think there was a relief when we got the date and we knew what we were aiming for. The goal had changed: we’re planning for Tokyo, but we’re also planning for Beijing six months later. I would take our team with any goal and know we’re going to achieve it, but I would estimate 90% of our production plan was already in place – because it’s an international sports event and the nature of it requires years of planning; the last, closing months really are applying some detail once you know what athletes have qualified for the Games. We were 90% there and now we’re taking that 90% and layering in production and safety protocols. As a baseline, we have approximately 2,000 people that we send to the Olympics, but we also have 1,000 people at NBC Sports headquarters in Stamford. For us it really is a global production because not only are we in the host city and Stamford, we’re also in Miami, New York City, at Sky Sports in London and also in Vegas. We have multiple geographic diversity to our production and knowing that gives us much more of a footprint that we can expand and extend in order to safely produce the Olympics.

How are you building the flexibility and agility that you’re likely to need into plans for next year?
Production workflows have advanced five to ten years in the last three to six months, which is really quite extraordinary. When you look at the NBC Sports Group portfolio, our year of championship events has condensed over the past few months – Kentucky Derby, NFL, college football, championship golf, Nascar and NHL. In each of those sports, we’ve acquired unique production elements and techniques, and we’ve tailored it to fit that audience and that sport. There’s a couple of takeaways. In terms of audio, we’ve missed the spectacle and pageantry – we want it back and the fans back – but without them and in this vacuum, we’ve experimented with some things we can apply going forward: we were able to mic jockeys at the Kentucky Derby, golfers down the stretch, we’ve pumped up certain sounds so viewers really get a sense of the field of play in football and hockey. All of that is going to push us forward once fans do come back. It has forced us to innovate. From a viewer perspective, the new camera angles we’ve been able to try because there’s no seatkill or blocking of fans’ views has given us the chance to be more intimate with the production and presentation. I think you’ll see a lot of that carry over when we do get back to whatever the new normal’s going to be.

You’ve talked about a two Games mentality, with Beijing following Tokyo – what does that approach look like in practice?
It actually isn’t that much different. This is a long-term planning process. Had Tokyo gone off on time in September, we would have been already thinking about Beijing and about Paris. Knowing that our Tokyo plans are very far advanced, we are now thinking about Beijing. Next week we’re going to gather virtually for four hours a day to go through minute by minute what we are doing for Beijing in primetime now we’ve got the general schedules. We are planning in earnest for Beijing now we’ve got Tokyo in a very good place.

Molly Solomon was speaking at LeadersWeek.direct/ – the full interview and all the sessions are available to view for those who registered here.


RIGHTS WATCH

F1 signs new Spanish agreement
Formula 1 has confirmed a new agreement with Movistar+ for coverage of the sport in Spain and Andorra until the end of 2023. Movistar has held the rights since 2014, launching a dedicated F1 channel after initially signing a three-year agreement which was extended by a further two years in 2018.

Tennis Channel expands with ATP Tour
Tennis Channel has cemented its place as the home of the sport in the US, by agreeing a multi-year, exclusive deal with the ATP Tour. The deal with the ATP’s media arm, ATP Media, expands the current relationship and will see Tennis Channel broadcast all ATP Masters 1000 events in their entirety for the first time. ESPN has previously held some rights to those tournaments. In total, calendar permitting, Tennis Channel plans to broadcast some 1,750 hours of live coverage from the ATP Tour next year when the new deal kicks in.


THE JOBS BOARD

Yaccarino takes new NBC role
NBCUniversal has promoted Linda Yaccarino to Chair, Global Advertising and Partnerships. Yaccarino’s new responsibilities include regional sports network sales and help build out the company’s new data strategy division, before a Chief Data Officer is appointed.

Chapek confirms new structure for streaming
Disney CEO Bob Chapek has announced a company restructure aimed at prioritising content and how that content is distributed across streaming platforms. Disney will roll out a Media and Entertainment Distribution group run by former consumer products, games and publishing president Kareem Daniel. That group will have oversight of distribution and ad sales for Disney’s various streaming services, including Disney+ and ESPN+. Chapek has also created three content divisions, which will supply the distribution group: Studios, General Entertainment and Sports. The latter division will be headed by ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro, who has the new role of Chairman of ESPN and Sports Content.

Chibani steps up at CAA Eleven
Redha Chibani has been promoted to the role of VP of global media sales at CAA Eleven. The former LFP executive joined the agency, which markets sponsorship and media rights for Uefa’s international competitions, in 2013.

Gordon joins production company
Former USOC SVP of Marketing and Media Brian Gordon has taken a role as VP of program development at independent sports and events production house Carr-Hughes Productions.


 

CONTENT/PRODUCTION

PGA Tour bets on broadcast
This week’s PGA Tour event in Las Vegas will be the first to have live betting odds integrated into the Golf Channel’s live coverage. BetMGM, which recently agreed a partnership with the tour, will provide the odds at the CJ Cup @ Shadow Creek tournament, which begins today. The PGA Tour has been integrating live odds into its digital content since August. For the telecast, BetMGM odds will appear within leaderboard graphics twice per hour.

Amazon revamps NFL viewing experience
Amazon has rolled out a new suite of features for its Thursday Night Football NFL coverage, which streams on Prime Video and Twitch this season. As well as multiple commentary options and new original programming, it launched an interactive, on-demand replay service for viewers through its X-Ray tool during last week’s Chicago Bears-Tampa Bay Buccaneers game. Data only previously available to coaches and broadcast crews is also accessible by Prime Video subscribers.


DISTRIBUTION

China’s gaming shake-up
Chinese live game streaming companies Huya and DouYu are merging, in a deal put together by Tencent. The new company will immediately have over 80 per cent market share in China, with Tencent planning to integrate its own game live streaming business, Penguin, into the newly-formed entity. Tencent is the largest shareholder in Huya and also has a sizeable stake in DouYu. The deal, months in the making, sees Huya CEO Rongjie Dong and DouYu CEO Shaojie Chen lead the new company.

 

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