SME#50: The Latest Sports Developments In FAST
What's happened? What's changed? What's next?
Welcome back to Streaming Made Easy (SME).
I’m Marion & this is your 5-min read to get a European take on the Global Streaming Video Business.
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Enjoy today’s read.
Back in June 2023, I wrote a piece about the State of Sports in FAST.
At the time, I diagnosed:
→ A supply vs demand mismatch.
→ The slow rise of premium brands.
→ A lack of live programming.
→ A business model still in need to prove itself.
What happened in the FAST Sports Landscape in the last 6 months?
Let’s dig in.
Today at a glance:
A slew of sports-focused launches.
1st time launches include:
Canal+ has 10 Pay TV Channels already including 3 dedicated to Sports CANAL+ SPORT 360, CANAL+ FOOT, CANAL+ SPORT) and yet they launched 4 FAST or Streaming Channels exclusively on their platform myCanal:
Canal+ Top 14
Canal+ Formula 1
Canal+ Premier League
More ways for viewers to find what to watch next.
→ European broadcasters ITV and TF1 launched FAST Channels for the Rugby World Cup as I wrote here:
→ La Liga+
LaLiga is the Spanish Football League but this launch is part of LaLiga’s OTT strategy beyond Football (check out their streaming service here).
The channel is live in Spain only and offers 30/40 live events per month from a wide range of sports:
Spanish competitions (LEBORO basketball, ASOBAL handball, Spanish Athletics),
International competitions such as Sail GP, VolleyBall (CEV, Volleyball World),
Games Football leagues and competitions
No introduction needed here and a move we all expected to happen sooner (i.e. for the 2022 World Cup) but in time for the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
The channel consists of thousands of hours of content, including original documentaries and archives. Viewers in Brazil and Italy were able to watch full live matches of the Women's World Cup.
→ Claro Sports
Pluto TV is launching Claro TV in 17 markets in LATAM.
The channel holds rights to sporting competitions including the 2024 Paris Olympics along with a number of football, basketball, American Football, MMA, golf, volleyball and cycling competitions.
→ Pickleballtv from Tennis Channel
This is the fastest growing sport in the US. Even John McEnroe who used to hate it is onboard.
This new channel is packed with live pickleball.
→ Arena Group and acTVe
The pair is launching 5 sports channels: Surfer, Powder, Transworld Skateboarding, Snowboarder, Bike Mag.
The content? Feature films, documentaries films & shorts, podcasts, live events (Dew Tour), original series and more.
The perfect example of a publisher making moves into the digital video space to become more than a magazine.
→ The Almost FridayTV channel and acTVe
It has an original concept: comedy and sports.
30% of the programming is dedicated to nostalgia sports where they feature the most legendary sports match ups, from the “98 Bulls vs Jazz Playoffs” to the legendary “Tyson Vs Holyfield Fight”.
The remainder of the programming is comedy, movies and talk shows.
I’m not the target audience but sure looks fun.
→ Cricket Gold by Cricket Australia
→ Sport1 Motor Samsung Germany
Other launches includes: Golf Nation, EQUUS Television, Unbeaten Sports etc.
Active FAST players went deeper and wider:
→ DAZN expanded its portfolio with new channel launches (DAZN Ringside, DAZN International Football, DAZN Darts, DAZN Fights, DAZN Heldinnen) and with new platform partners (e.g. Pluto TV).
→ Tennis Channel launched in Spain on Samsung, LG and Orange.
→ BeIN SPORTS XTRA went to Australia.
→ The PGA TOUR landed in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, India and South Korea.
→ Sports Tribal brought in new channels and crossed the pond to launch in the US.
→ LA MEDIA INGLESA is now available on LG, PLUTO TV, RELAXX and soon on TIVIFY, XIAOMI and more connected TV operators.
→ New, Premium
As evidenced above, we have new players investing the space. The sports and the brands got more premium.
We’re past the test and learn phase with one channel. Channel owners build mini FAST networks.
We’re midway when it comes to live programming with channels investing to feature live but depending on the channel, it is still a small portion of the overall schedule.
Exclusivity plays by Samsung and Pluto TV with DAZN show they see sports as a differentiator worth investing in.
Buying rights is the next logical step (which is what the Roku Channel did with Formula E check out my upcoming panel with Aarti Dabas, Chief Media Officer at Formula E).
But does it make commercial sense?
We still have no clue given the lack of industry-wide data but the equation is fragile: expensive rights vs a nascent, performance driven and ad-based business model.
Channels will come and go.
More platforms will try to figure out how to bid for rights and get exclusive channels without breaking the bank.
Marketing tactics will need to go beyond on platform activations.
Discoverability improvements will be must have to cater to live events so expect platforms to launch Sports hubs like the one Roku launched in 2022:
It’s great to see Sports growing and experimenting because the genre will be key to the growth of Free Streaming TV as a whole (just like it is vital for Broadcast TV).
However, the model still needs some finessing in my opinion.
That’s it for today.
See you next week for another edition of SME but before you go:
Enjoy your weekend and see you next Friday for another edition of Streaming Made Easy!
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