A review of Sports media rights in 2018 – the OTT juggernaut gains further momentum | Fieldfisher
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A review of Sports media rights in 2018 – the OTT juggernaut gains further momentum



United Kingdom

Amazon, Eleven Sports, DAZN: three of many examples of digital companies that in 2018 made a real impact in the sports media rights space.

Indeed 2018 itself will likely be remembered as the year when the digital disruptors truly entered the playing field of high ticket rights.

With Amazon being granted exclusive broadcasting rights for 20 FA Premier League matches per year during the period 2019-22, to Eleven Sports' acquisition of La Liga and Serie A games in the UK, to DAZN's partnership with Matchroom Boxing for its extensive catalogue of events broadcast on the live sports streaming service in the USA and Europe (no UK), the sports media rights space is truly in a state of flux.

But what is driving such trends? As far as this author sees it, there are three reasons:

  • Novel ideas of content providers;
  • Innovation in technology; and
  • Diversification of the means by which viewers consume content allows traditional and digital platforms to bring new offerings to rights holders and viewers.

By way of example of a novel idea, Amazon have adopted an innovative approach to tailored advertising in respect of its broadcast of NFL games –advertising partners have been provided with custom research detailing how consumers reacted to particular advertisements and whether such advertising activity led to purchases on Amazon. Between that advertising revenue generated and Amazon's primary focus on online retail, it would need relatively few new customers signing up to the Amazon Prime annual fee to recoup its FA Premier League rights investment.

In relation to new technology, drone like cameras enable viewers to experience sport from different angles and plays. The success of NBC's SkyCam throughout the recent NFL season is testament to how such equipment (often cheaper than the fixed camera equipment) has changed and will continue to change consumers' viewing perspective of all sports.

Finally, in relation to consumption of content generally, the focus on mobile consumption continues to grow. With increasing numbers of people owning smartphones and the consumption of content by millennials focussing predominantly on mobile, it is no surprise there is an emphasis in this space.
However, whilst the mobile viewing experience is continuing to improve, there is still room to augment mobile content presentation. For example, improving lag times, presenting in horizontal format for a better perspective of play and generally improving the crispness of the broadcast. Until AR and VR have a year like the digital players have had in 2018 and completely transform the market, I expect a major improvement in sports consumption on mobiles in 2019.