10 things you need to know today about the shifting sports media landscape today.
By James Emmett and David Cushnan
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Our next think-tanks and how to win a Leaders Sports Award
The dramatic reduction in TV hours watched by Americans
Indian Premier League game broadcast reviewed
BT Sport and YuppTV pick up 2019 IPL rights
Facebook and MLB unveil revised broadcast partnership
Vizrt launches new sports division with Stadler at helm
Changes at the top of RTL Group
Amazon turns to familiar faces for Premier League coverage
Where sport fits into BBC and Discovery’s growing relationship
IMG to sell International Champions Cup
Welcome along to the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin, your indispensable guide to the ever-changing broadcast space. Let us know what you want to read more of – and send across your news insight and suggestions – to [email protected] and [email protected].
A couple of other parish notices to begin with: We’re running another Broadcast Disruptors think-tank in London on Thursday 25th April, bringing together senior figures from across the industry to discuss the major broadcast challenges of the age – and hopefully find a few solutions. This one’s focused on how to reach and convert new audiences. It’s an invitation-only gathering, but do get in touch if you’d like to know more.
Looking further ahead and on a similar theme, we’re running our first Broadcast Disruptors event in New York, as part of Leaders Week, on Thursday 23rd May. Again, we’re being selective about who’s in the room but let us know if you’d like further details.
And there’s just a couple of weeks left to get your entries in for this year’s Leaders Sports Awards, which take place in October and showcase the best work, projects and services in global sport.
Last year, the inaugural On-Screen Experience award was deservedly lifted by ATP Media. Its Tennis TV service headed an impressive shortlist also featuring Discovery and Eurosport’s multi-platform PyeongChang 2018 coverage, Intel and LaLiga’s TrueView technology, NeuLion’s NBA League Pass, The Wimbledon Channel and Riot Games’ ambitious augmented reality dragon from the League of Legends World Finals opening ceremony.
Our 2018 Content Creation category was also hotly contested. The Toronto Raptors and GoDaddy Canada’s IttyBittyBallers campaign came out on top, with the shortlist also including great work from FIBA, LA Galaxy, European Tour and Uefa. This year’s shaping up to be as competitive, but luckily there’s still time to stake your claim.
We’re accepting entries for both categories – plus our other awards – until Monday 22nd April. It’s easy to enter – all the details can be found here. Best of luck.
New research by Nielsen, published by REDEF, shows the dramatic reduction in hours Americans spent watching TV across age groups between 2010 and 2018. Comparing Q3 data from both years shows that 12-17 year olds are, on average, watching 68 fewer hours per month in 2018 than in 2010, with 18-24 year olds watching 66 fewer hours. Only in the 65+ category have the average hours viewed increased over the eight-year period.
Source: Nielsen, REFEF
In this new semi-regular segment, sports industry executives critique significant sports productions – let us know if you’d like to review one. This time, Twitter’s former Head of Sports Partnerships for Asia Pacific Aneesh Madani, reviews the broadcast of Sunday’s Indian Premier League game between champions Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bangalore. You can follow Aneesh on Twitter @aneeshmadani.
Over the last decade, viewers have become accustomed to watching the best cricketers play to the tune of humming crowds, thumping stadium music and excited commentators. In other words, just right for prime-time television in a country with a median age of 28 and population of 1.3 billion.
With the value of IPL’s media rights doubling for half the duration at $2.5 billion for five seasons in 2018, the broadcast continues to see a rapid evolution. There have been five areas that have seen a quantum leap in the broadcast experience over the last couple of years: in-match graphics, multi-lingual feeds, gamification, social and commerce.
Global feed and digital broadcast insights
The IPL produces their own global feed and has prioritized a move to eye-catching, larger-than-life graphic templates in the broadcast.
This came to life as Sunday’s match got off to an electric start, with Englishman Johnny Bairstow and Australian David Warner hitting the ball out of the park at will and running fast between the wickets. I especially enjoyed the director’s move to showcase the exceptional speed of the batters with a swish in the graphics.
As the Sunrisers went from strength to strength, David Warner’s headshot ostensibly rose above the stadium to reveal the scorecard — a welcome move from earlier scorecards with just player names.
Timing is everything in sport, and the editorial decision to have an Australian commentator in Brett Lee calling the moment when Bairstow scored a hundred and hugging David Warner, his arch rival from international cricket, was a nice touch.
While the IPL’s commentary roster on the world feed boasts an impressive list of cricketing greats from around the world, there is room to have more pure play commentators to add balance to the conversation.
Since the Star TV network acquired the IPL’s media rights in 2018, the digital broadcast experience of the IPL has been taken to the next level on their streaming platform Hotstar.
The first thing that pops is the concurrent viewers number on the screen which is visible at all times and gives you a sense of excitement. Last year, Hotstar set a world record by having more than 10 million concurrent viewers during the IPL final.
As the lazy Sunday afternoon wore on, there were 3.1 million viewers watching the record-breaking partnership between Bairstow and Warner.
In what makes the IPL one of the most democratic broadcast experiences, fans can switch between ten (!) commentary options with the tap of a button. This includes English, seven different Indian languages, Dugout for premium users with additional insights from experts in the studio, and Funday.
While the Hindi feed draws the largest viewership, I enjoyed the Dugout experience where the three commentators in the studio are having a ball, walking out to a pitch built in the studio to explain nuances of the skills on offer and interacting with fans as the live match is on.
The second enables viewers to buy products from a widget at the bottom of the screen. One such option is to order a meal from a food delivery advertising partner. I was tempted to order a snack till better sense prevailed.
One decision the IPL has made in contrast to other major sports leagues around the world is to not post videos of the action across any of the league or Indian broadcaster’s social media platforms.
While it effectively drives fans to watch highlights on the league’s official website/app and the broadcaster’s streaming platform, there is a missed opportunity to bring more fans into the cultural conversation by selectively using GIFs or short-form video of an incredible piece of skill. An example in this match was when Bairstow brought up the 100-run partnership with a huge six and commentator Kevin Pietersen went ‘Ohhhh….whoopsie!’, which was the perfect six second summary of the match. Fans are active across platforms and the league might as well own the sparking of the conversation.
On the Hotstar digital broadcast, there was an option introduced to Watch ‘n’ Play in 2018 where fans could predict what would happen on the next ball, score points if they got it right and win prizes based on the points. This provided a bit of fun and games when Warner and Bairstow were going hammer and tongs, but my interest wore off quickly.
Watch ‘n’ Play has been raised a notch with a new chat feature allowing fans to chime in with live commentary via text – it’s moderated by the broadcaster, hence all kosher. You can invite friends to join, in addition to playing the prediction game.
The viewer text commentary tends to be repetitive and it’ll be interesting to see how it fares against ball-by-ball text commentary on other platforms over the years.
What I liked about the experience was that the match continued uninterrupted on the top half of the screen of my phone, while the gaming and commerce and social elements were available to dip in and out during some of the lull moments.
The match itself was a blowout, and the Sunrisers Hyderabad wrapped it up real quick, but you can expect the IPL broadcast to inspire more tech integration across other global leagues.
BT and YuppTV broadcasting IPL
Following Star’s decision to broadcast the 2019 IPL season on its own Star Gold and Hotstar services in the UK, a move which saw the early end of Sky Sports’ multi-year deal for the property, BT Sport’s announcement that it would be showing at least one live game per day from this year’s tournament raised a few eyebrows. Meanwhile, OTT service YuppTV, which specialises in South-East Asian content, has secured digital rights for the tournament across Australia, continental Europe, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and the rest of the world.
MLB reworks Facebook deal
Major League Baseball and Facebook have reworked their partnership for the 2019 season, with the social platform broadcasting a reduced number of live games. Facebook is due to broadcast six games, around one a month, on a non-exclusive basis via its Watch service compared to the 25 exclusive games it broadcast live last season. The broadcasts will continue to be produced by MLB Network, with Facebook granted the rights to sell sponsorship around each game.
THE JOBS BOARD
Stadler to run Vizrt’s sports division
Digital production and distribution specialist Vizrt is expanding its sports offering, launching a new dedicated division to be led by Dr. Stephan W. Stadler. Stadler, previously Vizrt’s Chief Product Officer, will assume the role of President, Global Sports. Kevin Bovet, Thomas Nelson and Ross Munro will lead the regional sports teams in the Americas, EMEA and APAC respectively. Ramon Ramos has been appointed as the company’s Global Head of Esports.
Rabe takes the reins at RTL
Thomas Rabe is the new CEO of RTL Group following the departure of Bert Habets for personal reasons earlier this week. Rabe will continue as Chairman and CEO of RTL parent company Bertelsmann. He is a former Chief Financial Officer at RTL.
Amazon turns to familiar faces for football
BT Sport and Sunset & Vine will work on Amazon Prime Video’s live Premier League coverage later this year, after winning the tender to produce studio and coverage of the two match rounds for which the streaming service has acquired live rights. Sunset & Vine is in the middle of a production contract with BT Sport which runs until 2022.
BBC and Discovery links grow
While the major content partnership announced this week between the BBC and Discovery focuses predominantly on factual programming, including pooling resources and libraries on a new global streaming service, the links between the two organisations appear to be growing stronger across the board. Already in business through an Olympic broadcast sub-licensing arrangement, the BBC will this weekend begin broadcasting live coverage of the World Touring Car Cup, a championship which sits in the Eurosport Events promotional stable, via its red button interactive service.
IMG to sell International Champions Cup
IMG has signed a two-year contract to sell the global media rights to the Relevant Sports Group-promoted International Champions Cup, which has since 2013 established itself as the dominant pre-season activity for Europe’s major football teams. The deal excludes the United States, Canada and Central America.
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Leaders Week New York
20 - 23 May 2019