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Essay: The Netflix of Sports Broadcast: How Professional Broadcasters Can Stay Ahead in the Digital Age

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  • Published: 1 April 2019*
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‘The Netflix of Sports Broadcast’

BBC – an insert for Inside out, exclusive to Yorkshire and Lincolnshire edition of the show as it focuses on everything that’s going on in Leeds.

Linear TV is being seriously challenged, in the world of Internet, Smart devices and Apps. According to Ofcom, young adults aged 16-24 centre their viewing around Online services as opposed to Linear. According to the same survey, Families aged between 25-54 mixed between Linear TV and VOD, whereas people aged 55 and above predominantly watched Linear TV (Ofcom, 2015). Sports fans watch what they want, when they want to. It is easier than ever for fans and clubs to stream live sport from wherever it is taking place, to wherever they are. So, how do/can professional broadcasters stay ahead of a fan uploading to ‘Facebook Live’?

Broadcasters can find themselves caught between trying to be the ‘first’ to cover events live, such as the news for example, when multiple clips appear on Twitter first nowadays, with people at the scene of an event, until the broadcaster can get a film crew down to the location.

In Sport however, the threat is much more serious to Broadcasters and Clubs. With the new EFL regulations in place, meaning that clubs can now stream their matches live across the world, piracy is much more of an issue. For example, a viewer who has paid their £5 can easily use something such as Ustream to capture the screen, and then output the game to other viewers for free, leading to a loss in revenue for the club, and/or broadcaster leaving them as the victims of this piracy.

Most sporting stadia have Fibre cable installed as part of broadcasting regulations put in place with the respective Host Broadcaster. Clubs have to adhere to this with their respective leagues, this offers tier one connectivity, unlike regular ISPs which can only offer tier two connectivity and therefore has less of a priority. Tier 1 directly connects to the internet and therefore is faster as no peering takes place. This is important for broadcasters as the network will essentially have priority over Tier 2 (normal ISP users) and therefore can ensure that the data will successfully reach its destination, if for example its being sent to an encoder or synchroniser in a gallery.

For businesses, it is much cheaper to buy world rights off host broadcaster and do everything from a base, this is evident with DAZN in Leeds. At €9,99 a month (or the equivalent in local currency), they support all major devices with apps available. They use a world feed and a HDR recorder, such as an EVS or a Hi-Tech controller to clip incidents up for in-house commentators to discuss. As they do not have to pay for a crew to cover the game, this frees up funds that can be used to get the best commentary teams in the country to promote leagues and the service that DAZN offers. I was told by Emanuele Monterini, who works as head of global solutions for MP & Silva, that particularly in the Asian Market, fans of sports, in particularly football, much prefer to listen to the coverage with English speaking commentary, so for DAZN, cracking the Japanese market should be a realistic goal.

This business model of essentially paying for just the things you want, has seriously affected the U.K.’s biggest sports broadcaster, Sky Sports, as last year they launched a rebrand from the usual Sky Sports 1,2,3,4 and 5 channels to Sky Sports Main Event, Mix, Arena, Premier League, Football and F1, in order to give viewers, the opportunity to just subscribe to certain packages that they want.

DAZN are owned by Perform group who run sites like goal.com, they cross promote things such as goal.com, or pushing and put DAZN branding on it in territories where DAZN is available. DAZN have bought 10 year rights to the J-League in Japan – and as a result, this has led to local Satellite broadcaster Sky Perfect!  taking a hit – losing 100,000 subscribers in just 9 months.

(Bloomberg,2017)

Andrea Radrizzani – “I think what we could see in the next few years is a huge change in the consumption of media, it has started already. Try to imagine if every Premier League match was now available via Amazon or Netflix. The audience could be much bigger, the single price per client could be lower, the total amount would still be bigger” (Guardian, 2017) This sprung Radrizzani into action when he bought Leeds United as he recognised the opportunity for income wouldn’t have to just come from subscribers only, and as a result the club’s TV channel, LUTV became free for weekday content. This was in order to gain revenue from advertisers and the fixtures are for subscribers only, gaining capital from subscribers.

Radrizzani himself is no stranger to the media industry as he is the Vice Chairman of MP & Silva, a company which acquires rights to stream sports overseas, he was heavily involved with winning the rights for the Premier League, World Cup and Champions League, and was the CEO until September 2014. MP & Silva’s client list includes some of the biggest names at home and overseas, including BeIN Sport, SuperSport, Fox Sport, Sky Sport and BT Sport, as well as Eleven Sports, for which he is the founder.

Eleven Sports operates in 6 countries worldwide, including the U.S. and its business model, like MP & Silva is to acquire broadcasting rights and send them out to different territories. The business model of Eleven Sports is to solely enter a market, acquire the rights and sell these ‘assets’ [sporting events] to customers, as Danny Menken told Sportsvideo.org upon the companies venture into the USA.

Now is an interesting time for Radrizzani at Leeds United, as he no longer relies on a Host Broadcaster, given the club can now stream games live to an audience outside of the UK and Ireland. The aim however is to, like Eleven Sports, try to crack the Asian Market first. This new regulation by the EFL meaning they can stream internationally, means there’s an opportunity to gain global exposure for the club itself, and not just the league, which is much better and easier for the clubs, as they can show every single game, without Host Broadcasters, Sky dictating who gets the most global exposure.

Many people look at VPNs as a way of cracking the system, as DAZN and EFL International streaming is not available in the U.K., I have personally tried to use 2 different VPNs (Tunnel bear and Hola VPN for Chrome) for each and I concluded the following for each service: for DAZN, they require a credit/debit card upon sign up, which must have a billing address associated with the country you’re signing up in. LUTV’s streaming partner, StreamAMG, have an anti-VPN system that recognises a VPN immediately and doesn’t allow for this streaming, it then places you on the U.K. & Ireland encoder and you can only see the output you would if you were in the U.K. or Ireland. However, for the EFL’s iFollow platform (the equivalent of LUTV, but for the clubs that cannot afford to stream it on their own), VPNs work and you can get full coverage of a game, albeit illegally.

References:

https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0029/68816/km_report.pdf

http://www.mediaandbroadcast.bt.com/wp-content/uploads/TVOB-datasheet.pdf

http://www.adi.tv/networks

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-24/gloves-off-as-streaming-appstake-fight-to-japan-s-broadcasters

http://www.sportsvideo.org/2017/03/24/svg-sit-down-eleven-sports-managing-directordanny-menken-on-the-launch-of-americas-newest

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