Social media and streamer purchase of live sports content has been more a journey than a sprint. Companies like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and YouTube have all licensed some live sports content to their platforms. YouTube has had regular season and playoff Major League Baseball games, Hulu has had National Hockey League playoffs, Amazon has Thursday Night Football, while the National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer have appeared on various platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
As the sports content streaming landscape plays out over the next five years, here are the three industry expectations:
1. Growth of Sports Betting, Sponsorships, and Media Rights
PwC’s recent report on the industry made it very clear that as sports betting became available and as interest in sports grows for those who place wagers on games, it raises viewership numbers, and therefore the price of sports rights that streamers, social media, and linear television companies are willing to pay. Of course media rights have been on the rise since the 1990s. Nothing new there. However, price will be an essential part of the sports rights buys going forward in terms of who gets involved. FOX Bet should be a major player in this market based on its platform and existing sports content rights buys through FOX Sports.
2. DAZN will be a major player
DAZN, pronounced da zone, has been buying up sports rights to various leagues and is led by former ESPN leader, John Skipper. DAZN, for the first time in the over-the-top platform’s history, purchased international Champions League rights for $1.5 billion. DAZN’s main competitor for the rights? Sky Sports, which is owned by Comcast (NBCUniversal).
3. Platforms will wait for expiring contracts and retiring companies
There are two trends occurring as the social media and streaming platforms have entered the sports rights purchasing space. For one, the sports rights deals are shorter in length, which means less money up front and even long term cost. Second, the social media and streamer platforms are waiting for a couple things to occur: (1) existing sports rights contracts with linear television companies to expire, and (2) for those same linear television contracts to continue to struggle to purchase sports rights and change with the times. As the article suggests above, the sports that exist today are likely to exist tomorrow, but the same cannot be said of the linear television companies that broadcast those same sports.
It may be that streamers will continue their dive into sports right streaming, however quick or gracious that may be is yet to be seen.