How streaming platforms are infiltrating the ‘ripe for disruption’ sports broadcast industry

  • Eleven Sports has acquired the U.K. domestic rights to Serie A and La Liga games.
  • It will also exclusively screen golf’s U.S. PGA Championship.
  • Perform Group recently struck a $1billion boxing deal including exclusive U.S. fight rights.
  • CEO of streaming broadcaster DAZN says: “The sport industry is ripe for disruption.”
Live screening of England's 6 1 win against Panama at the popular South London bar and music venue, the Hootananny, during Group Gs match of the 2018 Football World Cup on the 24th June 2018 in Brixton in the United Kingdom
Sam Mellish | In Pictures | Getty Images
Live screening of England's 6 1 win against Panama at the popular South London bar and music venue, the Hootananny, during Group Gs match of the 2018 Football World Cup on the 24th June 2018 in Brixton in the United Kingdom

This summer has seen changes to the sports broadcasting landscape with over-the-top (OTT) platforms changing the way live sport is consumed as new technologies develop.

These streaming 'disruptors' have been busy picking up rights in certain territories, which in the U.K. has seen major blows to more traditional broadcasters including BT and Sky.

Both have seen major soccer leagues plucked from their schedules, as they prioritize their efforts elsewhere – even taking steps to create an arrangement to sell each other's channel packages in an effort to retain subscribers.

Among the newcomers is Eleven Sports Network, which will launch a platform in the U.K. for the first time this month. August 9 marks the official start of its content, with exclusive coverage of the U.S. PGA Championship, the final golf major of the year. Viewers will be able to watch the contest as part of a seven-day trial on its online platform, via iOS and Android apps, and via its Facebook page.

"We are looking forward to maximizing this fantastic opportunity to appeal to existing golf fans through comprehensive free-to-air live coverage and analysis, while also growing new audiences with our fresh and innovative ways of delivering leading sports action," said Danny Menken, group managing director of Eleven Sports.

There will be plenty of other offerings from Eleven Sports to tempt fans away from the Britain's more established broadcasters; it has just acquired the soccer rights for Italy's Serie A and Spain's La Liga games from BT and Sky respectively.

Television cameras in the TV gantry record the game. 
Sportsfile/Corbis | Sportsfile | Getty Images
Television cameras in the TV gantry record the game. 

One consequence of the changing broadcast homes of those leagues will be that fans of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will have to go through Eleven Sports to view their domestic games.

Add to that the suggestions that Eleven has also agreed deals to add the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and NBA Basketball, both also from BT, to its roster by the end of the year and its place as a sports disruptor will be secured.

Eleven Sports had roots in the U.K. before this spree of rights-grabbing, with owner Andrea Radrizziani also chairman of English soccer team Leeds United. Marc Watson, former head of TV at BT and one of the forces behind taking the Champions League and Premier League to the channel, has been overseeing the rise of the company.

It's not just U.K. broadcasting that will look different. Serie A's domestic coverage in Italy will also have a new home for the 2018/19 season, after Mediaset struck a deal with streaming service DAZN, an offshoot of Perform Group in the U.K., to show 114 top-flight games over the next three years.

"The sport industry is ripe for disruption. Consumer behavior has been transformed by technology, with streaming becoming the new norm for viewing content. DAZN suits the changing needs of today's sports fans," James Rushton, CEO of DAZN, said.

"Since launching almost two years ago, we have disrupted the industry in multiple markets as we change the way the world sees sport."

Earlier this year, Perform struck what it called a first $1 billion deal for boxing, when it teamed up with British promoter Matchroom to stage 16 fights a year in the U.S. over an eight-year period.

Details of the deal included DAZN becoming the exclusive U.S. rights-holder for the fights, as well as being the platform for 16 other Matchroom shows from the U.K., including World Heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua's return at Wembley Stadium on September 22.

Another difference to DAZN's plan, as opposed to big TV networks in America, will be to not make boxing fight nights pay-per-view; instead, all will be available to watch for a monthly fee with no long-term contract.