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Broadcast, Digital & Media, Future Trends, Sport Business | Jun 11, 2020 | 8 min read

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

By James Emmett and David Cushnan

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Short form

Producing the Premier League’s return
How Tik Tok is closing in on YouTube
Inside Mediapro’s new French football service
Foxtel signs new Rugby Australia deal
Bundesliga signs new Vietnamese deal
New AFC broadcaster in Chinese Taipei
Celtic confirm streaming plan
James DeLorenzo joining Apple
Formula E hires new Chief Media Officer
Eurosport makes two new executive hires
Alex Vapaille joins EBU sports team
FC Barcelona gives streaming service green light
Over half of sports fans have viewed illegal streams
Sky Italia to begin personalised channel trial

 

Long form

THE BIG PICTURE

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The wheels of European football are beginning to turn again. The Bundesliga has, of course, been back for a couple of weeks, LaLiga resumes tomorrow and we’re a week away from the Premier League’s restart. In all cases, with no fans allowed into venues, much thought has gone into how to enhance the broadcast product.

Efforts across the board appear to have focused on three primary areas: recreating a familiar soundtrack, carving out ways to take cameras where they have not usually been allowed and attempting to cultivate a shared viewing experience whilst working within safety and public health protocols.

Mindful of accusations of gimmickry, the leagues and their broadcast partners seem to have all coalesced around giving viewers the option of raw sound or enhanced crowd noise during live games playing behind closed doors. Like the NBA in the United States, the Premier League appears to be seizing the opportunity to build more value into its partnership with EA Sports by utilising crowd noise effects created for EA’s Fifa game series. Necessity is the mother of invention, so might this be a first step towards a more permanent use of enhanced, game-like crowd noise in stadiums and layered into broadcasts to artificially generate greater atmosphere and a richer soundtrack? Purists may baulk but if it goes some way to providing a more consistent, high-level product for broadcasters, some leagues might consider enhanced audio a technological adornment worth pursuing.

Both Sky, which has been working with LiveLike on its suite of coverage innovations, and BT Sport have unveiled plans which will allow groups of fans to watch games together virtually, via apps, in an echo of Eleven Sports’ Watch Together feature which was launched back in November 2018.

The return of the Premier League is also resulting in a mood of cooperation and collaboration rarely before seen in English football. Following some level of lobbying from a British government eager to position the resumption of football as a national morale booster, the Premier League and its four domestic broadcast partners have worked together to make 33 of the 92 remaining games available for free. For the first time, live Premier League games – four in total, beginning with Bournemouth v Crystal Palace on 20th June – will be broadcast on terrestrial television, with the BBC, the Premier League’s highlights partner, carrying the games.

Sky Sports will have 64 games live, with 39 of those for subscribers and 25 made available on its free-to-air Pick channel. BT Sport will have 20 games live while Amazon Prime, which broadcast two rounds earlier in the season, has been handed four more live games, all of which it will make available to all. The historic and largely archaic ban on showing live football at 3pm on Saturdays will also be bypassed, as the Premier League looks to complete its season as quickly as possible by staging matches almost every day from 17th June.



THE NUMBERS

New research by digital safety app company Qustodio has revealed that children between the ages of 4 and 15 now spend an average of 80 minutes per day on Tik Tok, closing in quickly on the 85 minutes per day spent on YouTube. The research covered children based in the US, UK and Spain, with 60,000 families polled between February 2019 and April 2020.

 

Source: Qustodio


 

PRODUCTION NOTES

In the mixed zone with… Julien Bergeaud, Director General, Mediapro Sport France

Mediapro has confirmed that its new French channel will be known as Téléfoot, as part of a new tie-up with free-to-air broadcaster TF1. An initial four-year agreement has been reached between the media companies, which will see Mediapro use TF1 football commentators for 20 games per season when it takes over as the primary French broadcaster of Ligue 1 from next season. Téléfoot, named after the long-running TF1 football magazine programme, will broadcast eight live Ligue 1 games per round as well as games from Ligue 2, following Mediapro’s €780 million per season investment, which has seen them acquire the rights from 2020-21 until the 2023-24 season. Mediapro hired Julien Bergeaud, the long-time Discovery and Eurosport executive, as Director-General of its French operation last August.

Julien, what’s the idea behind launching Téléfoot?
The partnership with TF1 is a strategic alliance, a natural alliance of two recognised groups in football that is long term and will have a high added value. We’re going to offer fans a premium channel, 100% football. The partnership is based on three main pillars: a brand licence, an editorial and production and a talent partnership. The agreement demonstrates Mediapro’s ambition for the French championship and enshrines the TF1 Group’s expertise in covering the biggest sporting competitions and its historical attachment to French football. Thanks to our editorial know-how and cutting-edge technological expertise, we will offer fans a new perspective on football.

What challenges are you finding as you plan the launch of a new subscription channel in France? 
Today’s market is a fragmented market. Our ambition is to unite football fans around Téléfoot, the channel that will offer football fans total immersion in football with the best and biggest offer of the most popular and most followed football series that are Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 in France.

What is the impact of Covid-19 on your planning?
We have adapted. We have been working with all the remote working tools. We will be ready for launch in August 2020. We have a 4-year target of 3.5 million subscribers.

How have you personally found the transition from Discovery/Eurosport to Mediapro?
This is totally different. Discovery /Eurosport was a great experience, where I learned a lot, running an established business in a large matrix organisation. This new adventure at Mediapro is about creating everything, in a start-up mode, organising everything, building a team, building the business. This is super exciting.


 

RIGHTS WATCH

Foxtel agrees short rugby union deal
Foxtel and Rugby Australia have agreed a new short-term broadcast deal ahead of the return of domestic rugby union in Australia on 3rd July. Fox will broadcast the five-team competition that has been planned to replace Super Rugby. The competition will be played over 10 weeks. Fox will also broadcast New Zealand’s Super Rugby Aotearoa competition, which begins on Saturday, in Australia. No financial details have been revealed.

Bundesliga licenses rights in Vietnam
The Bundesliga has licensed its rights in Vietnam to the Next Media agency for the next cycle, which will run for five years, from the start of next season to the end of the 2024-25 season. Next Media has committed to finding broadcasters for pay-TV and free-to-air coverage. The deal covers 300 games per season across the top two tiers of German football. The incumbent broadcaster of the Bundesliga in Vietnam is Fox Sports.

DDMC signs new AFC broadcaster
DDMC Fortis has signed a deal for the AFC in Chinese Taipei with ELTA TV. The broadcaster will provide coverage of the World Cup Qatar 2022 Asian Qualifiers Final Round, the AFC Cup and AFC Champions League from the 2021 season, the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 and the AFC U23 Championship Finals in 2022 and 2024 via their three sports channels as well as through IPTV, VOD and Mobile TV.


 

CONTENT/PRODUCTION

Celtic firm up streaming plans
Celtic FC, crowned champions again after time was called on the Scottish Premier League, has struck up a partnership with Sunset+Vine, in preparation for a scenario in which it will begin the new season behind closed doors this summer. The deal is likely to involve broadcast talent from BT Sport’s coverage of Scottish football, which is produced by Sunset+Vine, as part of an enhanced streaming offer to Celtic season ticket holders.


 

THE JOBS BOARD

Report: DeLorenzo switching from Amazon to Apple
Apple has hired former Amazon executive Jim DeLorenzo, in a move which has been widely interpreted as a gearshift in the company’s ambitions in sports content. DeLorenzo joined Amazon in 2016, heading up its initial rights acquisitions for its Prime Video service. More recently, he was Senior Vice President of Audible, the Amazon-owned audiobook brand. In its usual fashion, Apple has not officially confirmed the appointment, but DeLorenzo is widely reported to be leading Apple TV+’s future sports strategy. Longstanding rumours suggest Apple is interested in securing the rights to the Pac-12 Conference from 2024.

Dabas hired by Formula E
Former International Cricket Council executive Aarti Dabas as joined Formula E as its new Chief Media Officer. Dabas began her new role last week and will relocate to London as soon as possible. She will oversee strategy across the electric racing series’ media distribution and partnerships, digital content and product development and broadcast production strands. Five races have been completed in the current Formula E championship, with a July resumption under consideration.

Eurosport appoints Young and Melwani
Eurosport has bolstered its executive team with two new appointments. Scott Young, who previously headed up Sky Sports’ Formula One output, has been hired as Senior Vice President for Production and Content. From September, Young will be ‘responsible for developing a unique and integrated content offering across broadcast and digital, realising opportunities presented by Eurosport’s enhanced digital products and broader technology transformation.’ Eurosport has also appointed former Disney executive Amar Melwani as Vice President of Distribution Partnerships and Rights Strategy. In the newly-created role, Melwani will help oversee Eurosport’s future digital rights strategy and link up Eurosport with parent company Discovery’s global direct-to-consumer operation.

Vapaille swaps IPC for EBU
Alexis Vapaille has joined the European Broadcasting Union’s sports team as a project manager for summer sport. Vapaille, who has spent the past six and a half years working as a Broadcasting Rights Manager at the International Paralympic Committee, will work out of the EBU’s office in Geneva.  


 

DISTRIBUTION

FC Barcelona streaming service up and running
FC Barcelona launched its new streaming service, Barça TV+, last week. A key pillar of the club’s wide-ranging digital strategy, the new service is available globally and in three languages, Catalan, Spanish and English. At launch, it had a library of 1,000 hours of content and 3,000 videos. The service will also broadcast first team men’s games on a delayed basis and carry games featuring Barcelona’s B team, women’s team, youth and other sports teams live. At the same time, the club has launched a premium version of its fan membership loyalty programme, which includes access to Barça TV+.

New figures reveal extent of piracy
Over 51 per cent of sports fans with a subscription to a pay TV or OTT service have admitted to also watching pirated sports content at least once a month. Some 42 per cent of those who said they regularly view illegal sports content do so on a daily basis, a figure over 60 per cent higher than the average sports fan. The figures form part of Synamedia’s latest Charting Global Sports Piracy report, which includes data compiled by Ampere Analysis from 6,000 sports fans across 10 countries.

Sky Italia to trial personalised service
Sky Italia has launched a trial around personalised channels for fans, through a new partnership with Australian company Linius Technologies. Linius and Sky will work together to develop a proof-of-concept personalised channel which Sky will be able to test with its existing subscriber base. The trial will likely focus on Sky’s Serie A coverage. The aim is to use the results to build out future commercial modelling and influence upcoming product design.


 

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