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TikTok, sport, and the future
NFL holds initial round of renewal meetings with networks
DAZN signs off on UEFA deal to move ahead in Germany
ITV renews British racing deal as FitzGerald signs off
Spotify brings in another sports podcast with CC Sabathia
CAA Eleven goes to market with new six-year UEFA cycle
Riot Games signs exclusive Chinese League of Legends deal
F1 and YouTube sign first live streaming deal
Liston, Villiger, and Harrington to protect AFC rights
Lewis Wilshere promoted to CEO at Seven League
Dylan Pugh leaves Spotify to start new podcast network
Mercedes signs up to Motorsport Network’s new OTT
AS Saint Etienne launch OTT
BEC adds OTT mandate to Sportradar deal
SailGP brings in Greenfly
SuperSport ditches numbered channels
The Athletic gets into bed with Bloomberg
Premier League hiring IP protection roles
Thanks for clicking through and reading the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin, your fortnightly briefing on the impactful, the insightful, and the intriguing across the sports broadcast and content creation world. Good to have you with us.
Growing pains are a part of the maturation process for any social platform with content at its core. There’s the ebb and flow of product development; the elusive formula for search and discovery; user acquisition and retention; finance and the fine line between commercialisation and an unobtrusive, ‘authentic’ user experience; and the cornucopia of copycats that spring up when you get it right. All can provoke their own particular headaches.
But if the odd ache and strain was to be expected, the executives at TikTok probably didn’t expect to find themselves in the midst of a migraine. Characteristically ham-fisted, it may well have been, but President Trump’s assertion over the weekend that he is prepared to shut the platform down in the US would have sent pulses through the temples.
TikTok’s recent growth – particularly during the pandemic – has been spectacular. And the estimated 800 million monthly active users mean the platform is now simply too big to ignore for any producer of original entertainment content (I’m looking at you, sports industry). The platform’s unique approach to discovery places much more of a premium on ‘good quality’ creative too (so if you’re going to do it, learn how to do it well). It’s the secret sauce that has fuelled such spectacular growth.
But with club/league/federation resources scarce and the platform facing an uncertain future, should sports entities who aren’t already on TikTok really be thinking about getting on it now? Well, yes.
Out of the ashes of Trump’s aggressive words looks to be rising a deal for Microsoft to take ownership of several regional divisions of TikTok. That deal – as comprehensively outlined in this piece – could well be transformative. Digital engagement has never been more important for almost any area of the sports ecosystem, and in the likes of former Disney and NBA execs Kevin Mayer and Harish Sarma, TikTok has the personnel in place to chart a course to monetisation on the platform for sports entities.
We spoke to Sarma for the latest episode of the podcast (see below); it’s well worth your time.
In the mixed zone with…Harish Sarma, Global Strategic Partnerships & Corporate Development, ByteDance
Where does TikTok fit into the sports rights ecosystem?
Ah – the ‘show me the money’ question! It’s really interesting. As someone who sat not that long ago on the other side of this conversation, I totally sympathise with the rights holders, the teams, the athletes – anybody who is a creator of premium content – because the question they’re asking is a fundamental one. If I have to make a living based on my ability to monetise my IP, how do I do that on your platform? Historically, that question has been answered through the existence of long-standing structures such as cable TV, all the way through to the subscription OTT world today.
The challenge that all social media platforms are facing is to say if the consumer is primarily taking in this content through some sort of ad supported means, what does that mean for the user experience? How do you ensure it’s not degraded by a heavy ad experience? How do you find that fine balance between your platform competing on an equal footing with others out there, and serving the best, non-obtrusive user experience, while at the same time surprising, delighting and entertaining the user? The other platforms have been at the races longer than we have, but we’re all facing the same challenge, and we are working tirelessly on what that means for our entire creator and publisher ecosystem.
What’s behind the tendency for social media companies to use obscure job titles? What gives you job satisfaction in your role?
As much as a title may confer certain perceived value within an organisation or hierarchy, the reality is that the most valuable thing that anybody can ever do is deliver change outcomes in any form and be able to point to specific examples of how you yourself have been able to deliver that change. I look at my performance every week, and every eight weeks, which is a milestone for us, and think about what I’ve been able to affect for TikTok – as a product, as a partner facing platform, and for me and my colleagues. So there’s an internal world, an external world, and then there’s the product itself. Can I say with a straight face that this is something I have my fingerprints on, yes or no? And if the answer is no, then I should be asking the question as to why I’m spending my time doing that. Our roles at TikTok are less about the words in the title and more about how your actions translate to the overall goals.
Harish Sarma was speaking on a recent edition of the Leaders Sport Business podcast.
Opening gambits made in NFL renewals
Initial hopes that a new round of NFL media rights deals could be concluded by Labor Day, 7th September, look almost certain not to be fulfilled. The league held private meetings with its broadcast partners in June, but – with the focus now firmly on coming back to play – there have been no formal follow-ups since that point. According to our colleague John Ourand at SBJ, ESPN, the NFL’s highest paying licensee with a $2 billion annual outlay in this cycle, has suggested it wants better match-ups than it currently gets in its Monday Night Football package, while Fox Sports seems lukewarm on the idea of renewing its Thursday night package. NBC and CBS are both keen to renew their Sunday packages, while the likes of Amazon, Google et al did not feature in the June meetings.
DAZN confirms football dominance in Germany
DAZN has confirmed it has bought a package of UEFA Champions League rights that makes it the preeminent football broadcaster in Germany from 2021/22. The three-year deal, initially reported in December, gives DAZN exclusive rights to 121 of 138 Champions League games each season. The confirmation of the deal follows DAZN’s acquisition of a package of rights to 106 Bundesliga games per season from 2021/22 to 2024/25.
FitzGerald bows out with ITV renewal
ITV will continue as the free-to-air home of British horse racing until 2023 after extending its rights deal with Racecourse Media Group for a further three years. ITV has been the incumbent since 2017. The new agreement was the final big ticket item on RMG CEO Richard FitzGerald’s agenda. He will step down from the role in the coming weeks after a 12-year tenure of growth. In 2009 British racecourses were paid £29.1 million via media and data deals; in 2018, the figure was £109.7 million.
CC Sabathia signs with Spotify
Spotify has added another podcast to its growing sports portfolio in the shape of former MLB star CC Sabathia’s three-year old RSC2 show. Sabathia and co-host Ryan Ruocco will release one or two episodes a week through Spotify-owned The Ringer.
CAA Eleven and UEFA to switch to six-year cycle
CAA Eleven is set to offer new six-year packages taking in UEFA international competitions and qualifiers from 2022 to 2028. The new expanded cycle will include the Euro 2024 and Euro 2028 tournaments. According to a report in SportBusiness, the agency will kick off the new sales process in the Nordics, where the Premier League has already gone to market with a reshaped six-year package of its own, signing a deal with the NENT Group in February. Previous CAA Eleven UEFA cycles ran for four years.
Riot Games signs exclusive Chinese streaming deal
Chinese video sharing platform Bilibili has signed a deal with Riot Games for exclusive Mandarin-language rights to a three-year package of League of Legends events including the annual League of Legends World Championship. The agreement, news of which initially surfaced in December, includes the production of non-live, supporting content. According to local, unlikely reports, the agreement could be worth north of $100 million.
F1 signs landmark live YouTube deal
Formula 1 has signed a deal with YouTube that will see live coverage of a race streamed on the platform for the first time. October’s Eifel GP at the Nurburgring in Germany will be available for free on YouTube in seven countries – Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. F1 has had some success in building followership through its YouTube channel, which now has just over 4 million subscribers.
AFC brings in protection trio
The AFC has brought in former Team Marketing and FIFA executives Tom Liston and Marco Villiger as members of a new working group to guard against piracy and ambush marketing. Level Law partner Dan Harrington will also be part of the ‘Independent Working Group on the Protection of Commercial Rights’.
Wilshere steps up at Seven League
Lewis Wilshere has been promoted to the role of CEO of Seven League and Mailman Group, EMEA. Seven League founder Richard Ayers now holds the position of Chairman. The pair met while at previous roles at Twitter and Manchester City respectively at the 2011 Leaders Sport Business Summit in London.
Pugh goes alone
Dylan Pugh has left his position as Head of Podcast Monetisation at Spotify to found his own sports podcast network, Pomodo.
Mercedes launches own channel on Motorsport Network
Mercedes has joined Ferrari in launching its own channel on the Motorsport Network’s new OTT platform, motorsport.tv. Mercedes will be the first manufacturer to provide Formula One-themed content on the channel.
ASSE TV launches
AS Saint Etienne has become one of the first French Ligue 1 clubs with its own OTT platform following launches the launch of ASSE TV, in partnership with technical delivery firm On Rewind.
Sportradar shuttles in new badminton deal
Badminton Europe (BEC) has extended and expanded a deal that will see Sportradar set up a new OTT platform for the governing body as well as become the exclusive data partner for all BEC competitions.
Picture perfect deal for SailGP and Greenfly
SailGP has partnered with Greenfly to make use of its media collection and distribution software. Greenfly technology will enable SailGP to aggregate and curate photos and videos for easy sharing with its athletes and teams.
SuperSport swaps channel numbers for themes
SuperSport is following the lead set by Sky Sports in a relaunch that will see numbered channels replaced by themes. The new suite of channels, set to launch on 1st September, will be dedicated to specific sports and leagues, in a move that should aid content discovery.
Sports publishing subscription service The Athletic will be offered as part of a bundled subscription with Bloomberg Media this month.
Premier League gets protection
The Premier League is beefing up its in-house IP protection capability, advertising for a commercial solicitor and a content protection manager, with applications closing for both positions on 17th August. The league is already acknowledged as one of the strongest rights holders against piracy.
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