Being a sports fan is an expensive habit. Ticket prices for games are sky high – WRU tickets recently tipped the £100 mark for the first time in the organisation’s history. So, it’s not surprising most of us will prefer to tune in at home to indulge our habits. There has never been more choice for viewers and the amount of sport being broadcast is the best it’s ever been.
As a women in sport, I couldn’t be more excited to see how accessible hockey has become on TV in the past few years following Olympic success. Not to mention being able to watch the thrilling England Netball Commonwealth campaign from the comfort of iPlayer last month.
Sports broadcasting is a complicated landscape however. With streaming rights for certain leagues often split across multiple broadcasters – these days you need a Sky Sports subscription to watch the Premier League, BT Sport to watch the Aviva Premiership and Amazon Prime if you want to watch the NFL. And that’s not even taking some of the more obscure platforms into consideration. My Netball Live subscription is the best £13 investment I’ve made this year – and currently the only option in the UK for watching the professional Suncorp Super Netball from Australia.
‘Netflix for Sports’
There’s no one size fits all subscription package for the ultimate sport fan. Consumers have been crying out for a ‘Netflix for Sports’ for a long time, and there’s a very good reason it’s yet to materialise. Sport is a prolific business, and the cost for live streaming rights is at a premium. The Premier League is the biggest prize in British sport broadcasting, and Sky recently signed a £3.6bn deal to air the majority of the games for the next 3 seasons.
When you consider Netflix paid a record £100m in production costs for the first series of global drama The Crown – it puts the cost of multiple sport rights in context. Sky paid a golden sum for the Premier League, and it’s still not an exclusive deal.
That’s not to say sport isn’t attracting the big tech players. Amazon recently paid a reported $50million for the rights to stream 11 NFL games this season. A package the digital giant managed to win over rival Twitter. And niche markets such as esports have long been reaching their audiences through digital platforms such as Facebook and Twitch.
There are exciting ripples of movement over the pond towards a ‘Netflix for Sports’ format, from the likes of ESPN and CBS. I for one am interested to see how the pay-per-game format of Turner’s Bleacher Report Live will pay off, as it brings together a variety of sports under one model.
But much has to be said about the impact of multiple broadcasting packages from leagues in all this. Live TV broadcast, digital streaming rights, highlight packages, near-live broadcast and goal-clips for the same league are all being sold separately. As a result, there’s so much more content than ever before being auctioned to the highest bidder.
With Sky Sports and BT recently reaching a content-sharing agreement on the Premier League, there appears to be some level of consolidation of rights. So while we might not be ready for an all-encompassing ‘Netflix for Sport’ just yet – change may just be on the horizon.
By Abi Williams, Account Manager, Franklin Rae