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14 things you need to know today about the shifting sports media landscape
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Digging into DAZN’s global expansion
US SVOD subscribers by 2025
Inside Eleven Sports’ Portuguese WhatsApp strategy
PGA Tour signs off new broadcast package
US LPGA rights confirmed
NENT goes again to grab F1 rights
Whisper hires ITV executive
Changes at DFL Digital Sport
World Rugby confirms World Cup viewing records
Russian Premier League’s membership move
Matchroom to launch OTT platform in April
Aser reveals pop-up PPV service
Quibi turns to ESPN and Bell
Prime Video to broadcast Yankees games locally
THE BIG PICTURE
Welcome along to the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin, your guide to what’s happening – and why – across the sports broadcast space.
Thanks to everyone who joined us in New York last Thursday for our latest think tank; stay tuned for details of our next exclusive industry gatherings.
DAZN’s eye-catching announcement last week that it is to expand into more than 200 countries and territories with a fight sports-led service has resulted in all sorts of headlines, not least in the UK where the streaming service is perceived to be entering Sky’s lair.
How DAZN lands in the UK in the long-term will be fascinating, especially as Matchroom Boxing’s current rights deal with Sky expires at the end of next year, but the bigger picture is that DAZN will be effectively conducting a giant, global market research exercise to better understand fans and their consumption habits, with a view to potential further investment in rights and marketing down the line.
To do so, it is merely exploiting its existing rights portfolio on its own, rather than selling to other international broadcasters by market, and utilising a technology platform now well-established in markets such as Japan, Canada, Germany, the US and Italy.
As its press release makes clear, DAZN already holds international rights to Golden Boy Promotions, Matchroom Boxing USA and GGG Promotions fights. Rather than selling to other broadcasters, as it has done thus far, DAZN will now exploit those rights itself – and learn so much more along the way.
Expanding on the announcement in an interview with online boxing channel IFL.TV last week, DAZN’s Joe Markowski pointed to the UK, Australia, Ireland, Scandinavia, India, Russia, Mexico and Poland as the “more immediate opportunities for us”.
He added: “In all of those markets, we’ve identified that there’s a huge base of hardcore fight fans and we’ve got pretty good brand awareness in those markets because people have followed our journey in the US. I think there’s going to be immediate opportunity for us to reach subscribers there. The beauty of DAZN being a digital platform is we’ll be able to immediately see other markets bubbling up – which ones work, which ones don’t, where we haven’t noticed pockets of fans; we can acquire and learn that very quickly and that will help us plan our business much more efficiently.”
DAZN is going global but precisely where it goes next will, of course, be determined by the data.
New research from Digital TV Research has revealed that the number of pay subscribers to subscription-based video on demand (SVOD) services outside sport in the US will increase from 199 million in 2019 to 307 million by 2025. The research suggests that Netflix will remain the dominant force ahead of Amazon, while Disney+ is expected to grow significantly from its end-of-2019 17.32 million to 40.48 million. Apple TV, however, is predicted to have less explosive growth, with the research predicting a rise to 5.52 million subscribers by 2025. Digital TV Research indicates that 12 platforms will have over five million paying subscribers by then.
Source: Digital TV Research
In the mixed zone with… Nuno Miranda, Head of Marketing & Communications, Eleven Sports Portugal
What’s the strategy behind using WhatsApp to push goal clips in Portugal?
At Eleven Sports, we want to make it as easy as possible for fans to access our content, through whichever platforms they like to use. More than 60% of the Portuguese population are on WhatsApp so it’s an important channel for our fans and we wanted to be there. The new service means fans get immediate WhatsApp updates with all the best moments and goals from the Uefa Champions League and our international leagues, including LaLiga, Ligue 1 and Bundesliga.
What has the reaction been from the audience?
The reaction has been great, we’ve already received thousands of requests to join our WhatsApp service. It’s helping to keep fans across the latest news from the games they care about, so it’s been really popular.
What are the major challenges you’ve encountered with using WhatsApp in this way?
The key challenge is making our content available to fans in an easy to access way, while respecting the rules around geo-blocking. Once our fans get the message with the notification of the goal and a link to see it, they are immediately redirected to our OTT platform where they can see the goals for free.
What plans do you have to roll out a similar service elsewhere?
We’re always looking at innovative new ways to distribute our content and serve our fans with great content, wherever they are. WhatsApp is a key channel for our fans globally, so it’s one the rest of the group is now looking at closely.
PGA Tour confirms future broadcast plans
The PGA Tour is to ‘assume responsibility’ for the on-site production area and technical infrastructure at its tournaments, as part of its new domestic broadcast rights deals confirmed on Monday. For the nine years between 2022 and 2030, the tour has renewed partnerships with CBS and NBC for weekend coverage of tournaments, and struck a new deal to take an expanded version of the PGA Tour Live streaming service to ESPN+. NBC Sports Group’s Golf Channel will provide early-round and weekend coverage from all tournaments, while NBC will average eight tournaments per season and CBS 19 events. The two networks will alternate annual coverage of the three FedExCup play-off series. As well as increasing its own production capabilities, the PGA Tour, which was advised by CAA firm Evolution Media Capital through the negotiations, will work with all its media partners to ‘collaborate on creating more sponsorship and marketing opportunities’.
And confirms LPGA deal
The PGA Tour has also negotiated a new rights agreement between its strategic partner the LPGA Tour and Golf Channel, as well as for coverage of bigger events on NBC and CBS each year also for the nine-year period between 2022 and 2030. “This agreement is an important milestone in the strategic partnership between the LPGA and the PGA Tour and a great example of the collaboration happening among golf’s biggest stakeholders,” said LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan. The LPGA retains control of its media rights outside the United States.
NENT Group sews up F1 in Nordics
NENT Group has followed up its pan-Nordic acquisition of Premier League and Bundesliga rights by agreeing a deal to broadcast Formula One in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland from 2022 to 2024. The broadcast group’s Viaplay service already carries F1 in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. In Canada, meanwhile, TSN and RDS have retained Formula One rights until the end of 2024, continuing broadcast arrangements that have run since 1992 and 1994 respectively. On two wheels, NBC Sports Group has acquired the multi-year rights to broadcast MotoGP in the United States starting from this season. DAZN has extended its MotoGP rights agreements for 2020 in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
THE JOBS BOARD
Whisper hires Chief Creative Officer
Production company Whisper has appointed Helen Warner as its new Chief Creative Officer. Warner was formerly ITV’s Director of Daytime and has been tasked with developing entertainment and factual formats as Whisper continues to expand outside sport. Meanwhile, as expected, Whisper has been confirmed as the producer of Channel 4’s Formula One highlights programming for 2020, beginning with this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.
Tsimpouli lands at DFL Digital Sports
Former Uefa and Google executive Nina Tsimpouli has been named Content Marketing Director at DFL Digital Sports, the Bundesliga’s digital arm. Tsimpouli is replacing Tobias Schmidt and will report into Chief Executive Andreas Heyden and Chief Operating Officer Bastian Zuber. Tsimpouli spent four years with Uefa’s social media team, before a short stint at Google last year.
World Rugby confirms World Cup success
World Rugby, working with its research partner Nielsen Sports, has revealed final details of audience numbers from last year’s Rugby World Cup. Overall, a total audience of 857 million watched the tournament broadcast by one of the governing body’s broadcast partners, up 26 per cent from the previous tournament, played in England four years ago. The cumulative live audience was 501 million versus 479 million in 2015, while the final between South Africa and England was watched by 44.9 million – a jump of 83 per cent on the final of England 2015. According to the figures, audience growth was driven by Asia, while a move to free-to-air propelled Germany ahead of Italy and Ireland in terms of cumulative viewers as the seventh highest viewing territory.
RPL pivots to YouTube
The Russian Premier League has made international coverage of its remaining games this season available via YouTube. As part of the partnership with Google, Russian and English language commentary will be made available on certain games. It’s the first time a national football league has sold games through a YouTube membership and is thought to be a fact-finding and data-gathering mission for the RPL as it moves forward with plans for its own streaming service.
Matchroom reveals OTT plans
Matchroom Sport has confirmed the launch of its own global streaming platform to house many of its rights on an international basis. The company, best known for promoting boxing, snooker and darts, has worked with StreamAMG on Matchroom Live. StreamAMG has powered Matchroom’s PDC.TV darts platform for the past four years and streamed last December’s Joshua-Ruiz rematch in India. In selected territories where existing live broadcast rights are not in place, Matchroom Live will broadcast events such as the World Darts Championship, Premier League Darts, World Snooker Championship and pool’s Mosconi Cup. The pricing models will be a combination of subscription packages and pay-per view. April’s US Open Pool Championship will be the first live broadcast made available on the platform, on a free, worldwide basis.
Aser rolls out PPV platform
Aser, the parent company of Leeds United and Eleven Sports, has launched a new flexible pay-per-view platform. LIVENow will provide access to a variety of live events, including sport, conferences and concerts and also be utilised by Eleven Sports. The broadcaster has already made matches in Italy available on a pay-per-view basis.
ESPN partners Quibi
ESPN has become the exclusive multi-sport content provider for Quibi in the United States, ahead of the short form video platform’s much-anticipated launch next month. Quibi is rolling out with a strategy of producing video of no more than ten minutes, content designed specifically for smartphones. ESPN will create a new five to seven-minute show, The Replay, for the platform. Quibi has also agreed a distribution and content deal with Bell Canada, which will involve production of daily sports and content for the platform.
Amazon goes local with Yankees
Amazon Prime Video will broadcast 21 New York Yankees games this year. However while the games will be free to view, they will only be available on a localised basis in New York state, Connecticut and parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Amazon was last year part of the consortium that acquired a stake in the YES Network. YES will produce the game coverage. The first broadcast will be in mid-April when the Yankees play the Cincinnati Reds.