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Broadcast, Digital & Media, Future Trends, Sport Business | Jul 20, 2021 | 8 min read

Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin: 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
Olympic broadcast innovation
DAZN’s major play in women’s football
YouTube and Tik Tok edge closer
Netflix’s move into ecommerce
US viewership of Euro finals
Inside European Leagues’ new rights bundle
Wimbledon renews long-term deals
LaLiga swaps Facebook for MTV
NENT expands Premier League territories
Racecourse Media Group renews key deal
James Ralley to join Football Association
Norrish swaps BT Sport for Premier League
Endeavor to run ICC’s streaming service

Long form

THE BIG PICTURE

Hello from London and thanks for clicking on the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin, your fortnightly briefing on sports broadcast and content creation, monetisation and distribution. Don’t forget to share it with your best colleague.

Your correspondence is always welcome – opinion, fact or wild industry gossip – to [email protected] and [email protected]. We’re looking forward to seeing some of you at the end of the month for an actual in-person gathering, guidelines permitting, at our Broadcast Disruptors think tank. If you’re in the UK and keen, do drop us a line for the details.

Just over a week to go now until the strangest Olympic Games of them all. It’s a relatively grim picture on the ground in Tokyo – a state of emergency declared, tight restrictions and no fans allowed at the vast majority of venues – which of course makes Olympic Broadcasting Services’ (OBS) role more vital than ever in conveying the magic of the Games. That task is only exacerbated by the fact that viewers around the world are again growing used to watching sport played out in front of large crowds. The switch back to empty, eerie venues will likely be jarring.

Nonetheless, OBS is planning several broadcast innovations, which are probably best grouped together as refined versions of various enhancements introduced by broadcasters across a range of sports, around the world, over the past year. Expect to see a fan video matrix inside several venues, where remote fans will be displayed. Several broadcasters will add a virtual ‘cheer’ button to their digital teams, creating a global map of support. Athletes will be able to talk to friends and family immediately after events at dedicated stations set up inside venues.

OBS, which is planning to deliver 9,000 hours of content in various formats, has also been steadily building richer, deeper partnerships with key partners such as Intel, who will provide immersive, 3D replays for the basketball tournament through its True View camera set up. Intel and Alibaba are supporting on 3D athlete-tracking technology, allowing real time insights and visual overlays on several athletics events. You’ll also see archers’ biometric data, including heartbeat variations, for the first time.

The Olympics has traditionally been a very public, very effective showcase of new broadcast technologies. Never have they been needed more.


 

EYES ON THISWatch how these three things develop to understand the future

World in motion
A fortnight after consolidating its position as a global boxing broadcaster, by adding Matchroom Boxing rights in the UK to its existing Matchroom deal everywhere else, DAZN made another acquisition which, to some extent at least, disrupts the established practice of selling media rights by market. Its acquisition of the global rights – albeit excluding the fairly significant markets of China and MENA – to the Uefa Women’s Champions League is certainly another eye-catching deal and one which has the potential to help financially transform women’s football. As interesting, however, is DAZN’s tie-up with YouTube to provide greater access to the tournament, particularly during the first two years of the deal. All games in the first two seasons will be streamed live on YouTube. In the two seasons beyond that, 19 games per season will be made available for free via YouTube.

YouTube goes short, TikTok goes long
It’s often said that eventually all social networks will be the same, each offering the same features, the same functionality and, yes, the same Stories as each other. That blurring is already happening, of course, and the latest example is YouTube’s rollout of Shorts, its new short-form service which appears to be an attempt to emulate TikTok, and TikTok’s decision to raise the maximum length of videos to three minutes, up from one. Both features have been in beta mode – YouTube has trialled shorts in India while TikTok has been testing three minute videos since December – but wider, more global rollouts are now well underway for both. And whilst on the subject of TikTok, the arrangement may be well-baked into a relatively modest sponsorship deal but its recently-announced agreement to stream live Burnley FC Women home matches is well worth keeping an eye on as it gets underway in a few weeks’ time.

The mighty swoosh
Reports, first published by The Information, that LeBron James and Maverick Carter are exploring the sale of their entertainment company SpringHill Co. are the latest indication of the massive – and still growing – appetite for content. And, as The Information has suggested, that might not just mean from broadcasters and streaming services. Although Nike has declined to comment, it has been linked to either an investment or acquisition, with reports suggesting SpringHill could be worth as much as US$750 million. It’s far from certain that a deal will materialise in this case but the prospect of a Nike or an Adidas doubling down on content – original and perhaps one day even live – cannot be ruled out, especially at a time when Amazon is ramping up its own investment in content to help drive its core retail offerings.


 

THE NUMBERS

Italy’s penalty shoot-out victory over England in Sunday’s Euro 2020 final was the most-watched European Championship match ever in the US, with an average viewership of just under 6.5 million people. That is up by 43 percent on the 2016 European Championship final between Portugal and France. ESPN recorded a peak audience of 8.199 million during the penalty shoot-out. The average audience across the tournament’s 51 matches, broadcast on ABC, ESPN and ESPN 2, was 1.363 million, up 31 percent over the 2016 edition which was broadcast on ESPN and ESPN 2.

UEFA Euro Final Viewership in the United States

Source: ESPN


 

PRODUCTION NOTES

In the Mixed Zone with… Chris Gerstle, Head of Business Development & Knowledge Centre, European Leagues who discusses his organisation’s recent announcement that it is pooling the rights to leagues in Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, Poland, Northern Ireland, Slovakia, Iceland, Latvia and Kazakhstan to take to market as a single package.

What are your objectives with the new, bundled RFP?
This is a historic time in global football and media, and the European Leagues is seeking growth through bold, new ideas. While generating incremental revenue for its member leagues is a top priority, driving incremental reach and research (data & insights) are also important goals for our leagues, particularly those that are lesser known on the global stage, and have thus far found less success in distributing their content on their own internationally. We remain committed to all three goals as we explore the future commercialisation of EL league content internationally.

We believe a centralized international media rights offering of multiple, top-tier European professional football will increase opportunities for fans to engage with leagues they may have previously been unable to view due to archaic media agreements and outmoded forms of program distribution. The breadth of league rights included in this RFP will also better enable fans to follow players from their respective home markets that play professionally in Europe, often moving between leagues and clubs.

How much extra value can you unlock?
As this is the first time these rights have been unbundled from the leagues’ international rights – which were historically sold with, for example, betting, streaming and scouting etc. – and then re-bundled as a group, it would be pre-emptive to try and define a financial value. The intention also is that over time both the number of leagues and their available inventory will grow. Therefore, we expect to unlock significant extra value as part of a longer term strategic commercial plan.

What challenges did you have to overcome in bringing the package – and the stakeholders – together?
The main challenge was one of timing. As the leagues have different media rights cycles and deals, it is impossible to get everyone aligned at the exact same time. The concept, however, was one that almost all leagues bought into right away. They found it a logical and interesting way to explore new opportunities. Other leagues wanted to join but were not able to from a timing perspective. We expect other leagues to join in due course.

How will this bundled package sit alongside individual league’s ambitions to develop their own D2C OTT offerings?
Only one league, in this package, has a direct D2C OTT offering. Our intention is to work with leagues and the market to offer fans what makes most sense, whether this be direct or not. In the end, it will also be league-by-league and potentially region-by-region based on the distribution options, strategy and goals.

How do you see the market for football rights – premium and second tier – developing in the long term?
Our view is that a bundled approach, whether for media, data or other rights, is a logical strategy to explore for non-premium rights. Based on the principles of aggregation and economies of scale, the role of the EL is to explore collective business opportunities and support the commercial development of our members by identifying scaled strategic projects, such as our existing centralized betting data rights deal. These collective projects are especially aimed at supporting member leagues and clubs towards their respective long-term development.


 

RIGHTS WATCH

Wimbledon renews with BBC and ESPN
On men’s semi finals day last Friday, Wimbledon announced long-term renewals with its two most significant broadcast partners. The BBC will continue to broadcast the tournament until at least 2027, extending a partnership that will celebrate its 95th anniversary next year. The 2021 tournament saw several matches, involving British players Andy Murray and debutant Emma Raducanu, broadcast on BBC1 in prime time. The All England Lawn Tennis Club has also extended its partnership with ESPN. That deal covers North and South America and will run until 2035.

LaLiga swaps Facebook for MTV
After its rights deal in the market with Facebook expired, LaLiga has agreed a deal to broadcast games on MTV in India for the next three seasons. The deal, signed with MTV parent company Viacom18 Media, will also see games broadcast on various regional networks and streamed on the Voot and Jio social channels. Viamcom18 is said to be exploring further sports rights acquisitions in India. LaLiga’s international chief Oscar Mayo said: “We are confident that we will reach and engage with the youthful audience that MTV as a destination appeals to.”

NENT builds Premier League relationship
NENT Group has added a further tranche of Premier League rights, in the Netherlands, Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The deals run from 2022 until 2028, with NENT’s Viaplay set to broadcast every game each season in the markets. NENT already holds Premier League rights across Scandinavia. Viaplay will launch in Poland next month, offering a variety of entertainment, kids and sports content, including the Bundesliga and UEFA Europa League. It will launch in the Netherlands early next year, with exclusive Formula One rights and Bundesliga games already secured in that market.

RMG renews key UK rights deal
Racecourse Media Group (RMG), the holding company responsible for media rights management at the bulk of UK racecourses and parent of broadcaster Racing UK, has agreed a new five-year deal with 33 courses. The new agreement runs until the end of 2028 and covers streaming and terrestrial rights, as well as international betting and non-betting rights. “RMG has a superb team, who, from the production to the commercial offices, are committed to ensuring first-class output and long-term sustainable growth for our racecourses,” said RMG CEO Martin Stevenson. “This will be achieved by continuing to create innovative and different ways of bringing the sport to life and showcasing it to our broad range of audiences.”


 

JOBS BOARD

Ralley joins Football Association
The Football Association has hired Wimbledon executive James Ralley as its new Head of Broadcast and Media Rights. Ralley, who has spent ten years at the All England Club, will take up his new role next month. He has spent the past four years as Head of Marketing, Commercial and Hospitality.

Norrish swaps BT Sport for Premier League Productions
BT Sport’s Director of Creative and Digital Mike Norrish has joined the Premier League Productions as its new Director of Digital and Creative. Norrish has been a key element of BT Sport’s digital team for the past eight years.


 

DISTRIBUTION

Endeavor teams up with ICC
The International Cricket Council has selected Endeavor Streaming to run its ICC.tv streaming platform. The free service provides coverage of key cricket content, including the recent World Test Championship Final in markets where the ICC did not find a broadcast partner. It also serves as a hub for ICC archive content.

 


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