Broadcast, Digital & Media, Future Trends, Sport Business | Oct 1, 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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Join us at LeadersWeek.direct/
Connected TV advertising and how it’s growing
The Verizon Media view on OTT and streaming
Turner and MLB spruce up partnership
Seven steps up as Supercars broadcaster
Premier League beds in new Tencent partnership
Rio Motorsports snaps up F1 rights
New chairman at NBC Sports
Le Grew promoted at Pitch International
Sport1 appoints first chief content officer
Analyst predicts Netflix price increase
Monfils’ Twitch broadcasts to feature ATP highlights


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Hello, good day and thanks for opening the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin, a wide camera angle picking out all the important detail on the sports broadcasting and content creation field of play.

Hints, tips, feedback and scurrilous industry gossip are always welcome round here – do send your best tidbits to us at [email protected] and [email protected].

The final countdown to LeadersWeek.direct/, our online broadcast extravaganza, is underway. We’ll be live with you from Twickenham on Tuesday morning at 10.00 BST for three days of high-end industry chit-chat with owners, presidents, CEOs, Olympic champions, star players, digital specialists, technology chiefs, commercial kingpins and leading creatives from across the world of sport – and a few from beyond. Before that, our enhanced networking and connections platform will be up and running on Monday, putting you in touch with the industry. It’s easy to register – simply click here.

From a broadcast standpoint, look out for NBC’s President of Olympics Molly Solomon offering the skinny on plans for the rescheduled Tokyo 2020; Facebook’s Peter Hutton and the NBA’s Chief Innovation Officer Amy Brooks chewing the fat on content distribution; automated highlights going under the microscope with WSC Sports, the PGA Tour and WarnerMedia; Religion of Sport’s Co-Founder Gotham Chopra; and a session examining exactly how technology is reshaping the at-home fan experience with Verizon Media and Fox Sports.

Do also put a hold in your diary for our daily, live studio show at 16.00 BST from Tuesday to Thursday, from Twickenham, where we’ll be joined by the likes of Celtic’s Head of Media and Marketing Kerry Keenan, PSG’s Chief Digital Officer Russell Stopford, FIBA Media’s Frank Leenders, Nielsen Sports’ Head of Consulting, EMEA Samantha Lamberti and FIFA’s Director of Strategic Alliances and Innovation Benjamin Stoll to discuss all the key talking points and review this year’s Leaders Sports Awards winners.

On that note, hearty congratulations to BT Sport, Kiswe, Drone Racing League, Excel Sports Management, Sportfive and Turner, and Uefa, Endeavor and UI Centric for claiming the prizes in the On-Screen Experience category. Their winning work, plus details of who won what in all the other categories, is live on our website now.


While streaming continues to gain ground on consumption of linear television, the advertising market is flexing at a much slower rate, with recent figures from eMarketer showing that little over 10% of the estimated $70 billion that is spent on TV advertising in the US each year is spent on Connect TV ads.

Source: eMarketer


In the Mixed Zone with… Peter Gallagher, Verizon Media Platform’s Customer Operations Lead – he runs the operations and engineering for the telecoms giant’s media platforms group, which includes a global content delivery network as well as video streaming and security services.

What are the mistakes that broadcasters or properties moving into streaming for the first time tend to make?
It always come backs to the business. We need to think about how to build audience – that’s what matters. It sounds simple, but sometimes organisations bite off too much in all those capabilities and they don’t have enough capital to invest in doing all those pieces themselves. And then the investments and challenges with time-to-market end up taking away from what they need to invest in order to build audience – either through rights and content agreements, or in marketing and promotion. You can’t let the technology be the barrier for time-to-market, and you need to focus on what’s important where you partner.

The other big thing to think about when you’re making those build-buy-partner decisions is scale. What is really critical as consumer expectations change from traditional and OTT and quality of experience, and the need for live events and flash traffic, being able to scale to manage that flash traffic is key. People can support millions of concurrent viewers. But how adept are organisations at scaling from hundreds of thousands to millions in seconds without having different components of the platform crash, being able to scale so we don’t have buffering or other issues that impact consumer experience. Scale is key.

As theatrical release windows are moving online as well, we’ll have more and more flash traffic – even in the VOD space as well as linear. Being able to build the right scale is just critical.

Why should the sports and media industries be excited about 5G?
We’re at the heart of what’s going on here at Verizon. There are so many dimensions to what it offers, it’s just fascinating. 5G as a protocol certainly allows increased speed and performance, which is really going to enrich the consumer experience. But what is really critical and that comes along with this is what’s available on edge compute. Being able to do transactions at the edge to support the performance requirements of 20 milliseconds, 5 milliseconds versus the cloud which could be 300 milliseconds – there’s going to be a big difference there as we look at what future offerings are.

What does the OTT landscape look like in five years from now?
We’re thinking about it in terms of capabilities. We’re not building our own direct-to-consumer offering; our main mission is to partner organisations and enable their success with consumers. So we’re thinking about it in terms of what capabilities we need to launch in order to differentiate consumer experience. If I think about what things I’d like to move to the edge, it’s how do I take social viewing and allow people to join an event in a small group. With Covid and the challenge of people not being able to go and enjoy content experiences today, how do we bring that similar living room or stadium experience together to people in a virtual world. That’s what we’re working on around AR and VR as well.

And it’s not only about what’s going on in the video frame itself, but about the ability to look at key statistics of what’s happening with players, bring in computer vision, switch different camera angles, and be able to automatically generate clippable highlights, and link that to peoples’ fantasy leagues or connect for gaming and betting, and make this all happen in real time. So low latency will be really key. We’re investing in building these capabilities to run at the edge, because that’s going to give our customers a differentiated experience with their customers.

Read the full interview with Peter Gallagher here, and look out for his session at LeadersWeek.direct/ next week.


Turner reups with MLB
As expected, WarnerMedia’s Turner Sports has extended its agreement to broadcast Major League Baseball for seven more years. The new deal will begin in 2022 and is reportedly worth US$3.7 billion, an uplift of 68% on Turner’s current agreement. As well as an additional Wild Card game per season, there is a major digital rights component to the deal with expanded highlights packages expected to be seen across Turner’s suite of outlets, notably including Bleacher Report.

Supercars strikes new deal
Australia’s Supercars series has signed a new domestic rights deal with Foxtel and Seven Network for the five seasons until 2025. Local reports suggest the new agreements are worth some AUS$200 million, a combination of cash and advertising, over the period, slightly less than the value of the current contracts with Foxtel and Ten. Foxtel’s blanket coverage of the championship across TV and its Kayo streaming service will be complemented by Seven broadcasting six live events per season. Seven previously broadcast the championship in 2014.

Premier League teams up with Tencent
The Premier League has found a stopgap solution to its China broadcast problem by agreeing a deal with Tencent Sports for the remainder of the current season. Live coverage and shoulder programming is being split across several of Tencent’s digital platforms, including WeChat, QQ.com, Tencent Video, Penguin Live App, Tencent News App, Tencent Sports App and Kan Dian. Half the games will be made available for free, with the remainder available to Tencent Sports’ members. Premier League clubs will also be able to share short in-game clips for the first time. Meanwhile, in the UK, following the government’s announcement it has paused the pilot programmes testing the return of fans to sports venues, it is anticipated all Premier League games will be made available for broadcast during October.

Rio group acquire F1 rights
Following Globo’s decision not to renew its longstanding deal to broadcast Formula One in Brazil beyond the end of this season, it is understood a consortium called Rio Motorsports has acquired the rights for the next five seasons. The group is currently bidding to stage a Grand Prix and construct a new circuit in Rio de Janeiro, to replace the current venue at Interlagos in Sao Paulo. Without a broadcast platform of its own, Rio Motorsports is expected to sub-license the rights although F1 is almost certain to launch its own streaming product, F1 TV Pro, in the country from next season.


Bevacqua steps up at NBC
Pete Bevacqua is the new chairman of NBC Sports, only the third person to hold one of the most prestigious roles in US sport and media. Bevacqua, who has been president since joining NBC from the PGA Tour in 2018, replaces Mark Lazarus in the top job. Earlier in the year, Lazarus was handed an expanded role overseeing television and streaming at NBCUniversal. Bevacqua will be NBC’s pointman on the network’s next round of negotiations with the NFL – its current contract ends in 2022. Aside from Bevacqua and Lazarus, the only other person to hold the chairman role was Dick Ebersol.

Le Grew promoted at Pitch International
Guy Le Grew has been named chief revenue officer at Pitch International. It’s a promotion for Le Grew, who was previously managing director of cricket and golf at the agency. In further changes confirmed last week, Henri Kamerling, formerly managing director of sales, will now oversee Pitch International’s football, rugby and global partnerships. Former Premier League executive Sunil Kaikini is now managing director of rights, while Justin Houlihan becomes chief strategy officer. Kieron Donnelly replaces Le Grew as head of cricket and golf, while Cat Wilson takes charge of women’s sport.

Gottschalk takes expanded role at Sport1
German channel Sport1 has promoted Pit Gottschalk to the new role of chief content officer. Gottschalk joined Sport1 in January as editor-in-chief, but has now been handed an additional set of responsibilities.


Netflix price hike ‘likely’
A Wall Street analyst has suggested Netflix will soon look to raise subscription prices in North America or Europe. Jefferies’ Alan Giaimo noted a shift in language from Netflix executives on earnings calls over the past two quarters. Reporting the comments, Deadline suggested a rise of US$1 to US$2 per month could generate between US$500 million and US$1 billion for the company.

ATP working with Monfils on Twitch
ATP Tour player Gael Monfils and his WTA star girlfriend Elena Svitolina have launched a new show on Twitch. Monfils is a long-time Twitch user and his weekly programme, ‘Catch Up’, has received official endorsement as it will feature match highlights provided by TennisTV, the streaming service arm of ATP Media.


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