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What Google’s Stadia launch means for sport
New Deloitte media services subscription data
F1 opening race production under the microscope
Sky signs UK IPL deal, then steps aside for Hotstar
MBC picks up MENA F1 deal
Sony and Mediacorp pick up key Olympic rights
Foxtel hire BBL chief McConnie
YouTube swoops for NBCUniversal’s Conklin
Eleven appoints new leader for its Japanese streaming service
DAZN completes rebrand and confirms ad roll-out plans
NBCUniversal and Sky combine advanced ad assets
NBA and Instagram make separate content-commerce plays
Welcome to another edition of the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin, designed to keep you abreast of all things new, fresh and interesting across the sports broadcast world. We appreciate all your news, insight and suggestions – keep it all coming to [email protected] and [email protected].
How much to read into a name? Google’s Stadia was launched on Tuesday, confirming the tech giant’s much-mooted foray into gaming through a new digital platform, fully integrated with YouTube. It feels like it could be a game-changer for the gaming industry and Google is clearly positioning Stadia as a home for both game players and watchers, but the moniker surely reflects a certain amount of future-proofing, too.
At the very least it will do little to quell speculation about Google’s intentions when it comes to live sports rights acquisitions. It has the money, it has the infrastructure and soon it will have what, according to the details released so far, would seem to be the ideal global digital platform to house live sports content.
It would be unwise, of course, for Google to show its hand before it’s ready and the gaming and esports communities are large enough to present a significant opportunity on their own, but these platforms don’t tend to be named by accident. There can be no denying that Stadia screams sport more than it does gaming.
Who knows when – perhaps not even the company itself – but, with that platform and that name, the odds must have shortened on Google one day becoming a major sports broadcast player.
The annual Deloitte digital media trends survey, put together by the company’s technology, media and telecommunications practice, offers a snapshot of the habits of US consumers and explores the trend for multiple media subscriptions. Some 43% have subscriptions to both a pay TV and streaming service, a figure which rises to 52% for Generation X (age 36-52, so born between 1982 and 1966). And for the first time in 2018, a higher percentage of US households subscribed to a streaming service than to a traditional pay TV offering.
Source: Deloitte Digital Media Trends Survey
In our new semi-regular segment, we critique significant sports productions – let us know if you’d like to review one. This time, we appraise F1’s production of the opening Grand Prix of the new season, in Australia last Sunday.
A Formula One race must rank as one of the more challenging live sports productions, given there are 20 moving points of interest and multiple unfolding storylines all happening – obviously – at speed over a 90 to 100-minute period. Formula One’s TV operation is a slick affair nowadays, the move in-house over the past couple of decades resulting in a more consistent, professional product from race-to-race. The days of local broadcasters providing often patchy ‘world feed’ coverage – for example, focusing in on local drivers at the expense of everything else – are long in the past.
In Australia, where Formula One assembled last weekend for the first race of the year, the race production didn’t miss a beat; furthermore, you could almost see the real-time editorial decisions being weighed up by the broadcast team. With Valtteri Bottas running away with the race at the front, the director quickly – and correctly – elected to seek out the key battles further down the field. The train of cars held up by Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo was covered extensively, often from the onboard camera above McLaren debutant Lando Norris’ helmet. F1 also seems to be increasingly utilising cameras placed lower to the ground, giving a greater impression of speed to the viewer.
Since the start of last year significant efforts have been made to properly integrate data insights into live race coverage. The fruits of that labour were on show on Sunday, courtesy of F1’s partnership with Amazon Web Services. With the timing tower showing gaps between cars a constant on the left-hand side of screen throughout the race and various other graphics popping up here, there and everywhere, the sheer volume of data on screen can at times be distracting. The live data graphic showing the percentage likelihood of a position changing during pit-stops is probably a step too far, but using the halo driver safety device as a backdrop to live car telemetry is a neat and effective solution, which seems to have been refined since its introduction last season. The addition of a purple icon next to the driver holding the fastest lap on the timing tower graphic was handy, given it is now worth a point.
Key moments captured
With so much potential for incident to occur to any of the cars at any point of the circuit, it can often be a matter of luck as to whether accidents, overtaking moves or retirements are covered live or via replay. On Sunday, the luck was with the production team when Carlos Sainz’s engine gave out – his car happened to be being tracked live from above, via helicopter; it was the ideal shot to show the first traces of smoke billowing from the back of his McLaren.
Another particularly nice sequence occurred when Romain Grosjean pulled out of the race. We first saw an onboard camera replay of him pulling to a stop, with his left front wheel clearly coming loose; immediately a replay of his earlier slow pit-stop was played in, the director drawing a link between the two. It was a simple example of visual storytelling that would have worked even without expert commentary over the top of it.
The Australian Grand Prix wasn’t a particularly incident-packed race so greater live production challenges are certainly ahead as the season progresses, but for F1’s TV team this was a more than solid opener.
IPL rights switch
Despite signing a multi-year deal for UK coverage last year, Sky Sports will not broadcast this year’s Indian Premier League. Global rights holder Star India will deliver live coverage via Hotstar, its streaming service which has recently launched in the UK. Hotstar will also broadcast India home games in the UK until 2020.
MBC picks up F1
MBC broadcast its first Formula One race to the Middle East and North Africa on Sunday, after picking up the rights to the sport for the next five years in the region late last week. The Dubai-based broadcaster, which is showing F1 on its MBC Action Channel, replaces BeIN Sports as the rights-holder, after the Qatar-based company dropped the rights earlier this year.
India and Singapore confirm Olympic plans
The International Olympic Committee has sold the Indian broadcast rights to next year’s Tokyo summer Games to pay broadcaster Sony Pictures Networks. Sony has also obtained rights across the subcontinent, excluding some free-to-air rights in certain markets where the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union has obtained the rights. As has become the norm in such deals, the IOC has also agreed a partnership with the broadcaster to roll out a ‘permanent Olympic Channel home’ within Sony’s services. Meanwhile, in Singapore, Mediacorp has acquired the Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 rights from Dentsu, which previously struck a deal with the IOC for rights in 22 Asian territories.
McConnie joins Foxtel
Kim McConnie has been appointed as Foxtel’s new Director of Marketing – Sport. She’ll join the broadcaster in April, moving on from her role at Cricket Australia heading up its Big Bash League. McConnie, who delivered a presentation during Leaders’ inaugural Sport Business Summit in Abu Dhabi earlier this year, replaces Adam Ballesty at Foxtel.
YouTube TV hires Conklin
NBCUniversal executive Lori Conklin has been hired by YouTube as Global Head of Partnerships for YouTube TV. Conkling, who began her new job last week, was Executive Vice President of Strategy at NBCUniversal. She will oversee YouTube TV’s content deals with broadcasters and networks, as well as influencers, reporting into Vice President of Content Partnerships, Kelly Merryman.
Eleven turns to Cho
Eleven Sports has turned to former MP & Silva Chief Commercial Officer Su Hyeon Cho to run its new Japanese streaming service, which was confirmed last week and launched at the weekend. Eleven has signed deals with seven of the 12 teams in the NPB Farm League, Japan’s minor baseball competition. Cho has been Managing Partner of production company Easyprod, which, like Eleven Sports, is owned by Aser, and will produce coverage from five of the seven teams the broadcaster has signed agreements with.
DAZN rebrand complete
Completing its major rebranding project, DAZN Group has renamed Perform Media as DAZN Media. DAZN Media says it is working with a ‘select group of advertisers’, including VW, bwin, Krombacher and Tipico ‘to introduce brand advertising’ into its services. Those services include DAZN’s channels in various markets around the world and its other platforms, Goal, Sporting News and the video-on-demand player, now DAZN Player, which is distributed to major online publishers such as Mail Online, MSN and La Repubblica. Stefano D’Anna will head up DAZN Media reporting to DAZN Group Chief Revenue Officer James Rushton.
NBCUniversal and Sky, now sharing a parent in Comcast, are combining advanced advertising assets. NBCU’s Audience Studio targeting advertising product will be folded into Sky’s AdSmart service – the latter name is being retained. NBCU and Sky advertisers will be able to optimise spend, utilising an overall data set of set-top boxes in over 50 million households, and enable advertisers to ‘target precise consumer segments through addressable video’ and digital platforms. “The world is getting smaller, and the opportunity for international marketers to make an impact with consumers is getting bigger. The industry has demanded a global premium video offering, and now, one will finally exist,” was how Linda Yaccarino, Chairman of Advertising and Partnerships at NBCUniversal, summed it up.
The content-commerce crossover
The last two weeks have seen two significant developments in the space between sports broadcast content and commerce. The NBA, into the penultimate year of a reported $700 million, five-year deal with Chinese digital giant Tencent, is not, seemingly, prohibited from signing other large deals in the territory. An expanded deal with Alibaba will now see the ecommerce platform carry significant NBA content – including highlights, classic games and original programming – in a dedicated section across its various retail brands. Meanwhile Instagram this week rolled out a closed beta version of its new Checkout function – a closed payments ecosystem that will enable users to make purchases directly through the app.
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