Streaming services playing hard to redefine sport subscription model
For a long time, ‘traditional’ television has had a firm grip on sport fans but with so many streaming services now in the game and looking to redefine the subscription model, that is changing rapidly.
In the past few weeks, Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani and his Eleven Sports networks have taken the rights to show La Liga from Sky Sports and are currently fluttering their eyes at the final two packages for Premier League games too.
This marks Eleven Sports’ entrance into the UK market, and they are already established in Poland, Belgium and Luxembourg, Italy, the USA, Singapore and Taiwan, where they have rights to show Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Formula One.
Hot on the heels of this, the UFC revealed earlier last week that from 2019, ESPN’s new streaming service will be the home to 15 full UFC cards annually, having paid UFC $150 million per year over the length of the multi-year deal.
The network recently relaunched its streaming service through an app as ESPN+, charging a $4.99 monthly or $49.99 yearly subscription fee for live events that aren’t broadcast on any of the main ESPN channels. Subscribers will also be able to order UFC Fight Pass, the organization’s streaming service, plus pay-per-view events through the app at an additional cost.
Last week, Matchroom Boxing announced an eight-year deal worth $1bn with Perform Group, for 16 fights per year to take place in the USA, in the biggest ever deal in the sport.
This is not to be sniffed at or dismissed as just throwing money at something. Perform Group is a huge international provider of digital sports properties – Goal.com, Opta Sports and its streaming service DAZN, which will be the home for the Matchroom deal. Oh, and they’re also owned by one of Britain’s richest men, Len Blavatnik.
Boxing is only the start of what they’re going to do as the channel aspires to be the “Netflix of Sport’, with their own research showing that the average U.S. household already has two OTT packages: 220 million OTT subscriptions for 110 million households.
With so many new players, is it an exaggeration to say all sport will soon be broadcast online? Absolutely. Is it an exaggeration to say that the aggressive pursuit of premium sporting rights from OTT subscription services is going to redefine how we purchase entertainment packages and potentially see an end to the traditional ‘box office’ format for the biggest events? Absolutely not.