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Bulletin length: 2,351 words – it’s a 10-minute read
Broadcast Disruptors of the Week: Shay Segev
Behind-the-scenes of sports documentaries
LIV Golf teams up with CW Network
Media rights revenues key to investment in Europe’s big leagues
We Are Social’s social media activities by platform
Q&A: Why the Atlanta Falcons built a TV studio
LEADERS BROADCAST DISRUPTOR OF THE WEEK
Who? Shay Segev What? CEO, DAZN Why? DAZN’s new agreement with the NFL has the feel of the most significant partnership announced on Segev’s watch. Since taking the reins in 2022, he has set the streaming service on a path towards sports betting and hoovered up various fightsports properties, adding to its global agreement with Matchroom, as DAZN has attempted to bed in on major football rights deals in the Italian, Spanish and German markets. But was that just misdirection? The NFL has now signed a 10-year agreement, covering around 200 countries but of course excluding the United States, with DAZN for rights to its NFL Game Pass International package. Game Pass will be made available as an add-on package within the DAZN app, or as a standalone subscription. What the deal means for historic Game Pass backend partners Deltatre and Two Circles remains to be seen.
THE BIG PICTURE
This is the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin, a fortnightly snapshot of what’s occurring in the sports media and broadcast space – how content is being conceived, produced, packaged, monetised and distributed. Thanks for spending a little of your day with us, and don’t forget to forward to your favourite colleague.
It may come as a surprise to some that the sports documentary existed as a format before F1 got together with Netflix a few years ago and ‘Drive to Survive’ was born. Nonetheless, it’s true to say that the high speed drama, direct from the paddock, has been something of a breakthrough moment, in terms of what a behind-the-scenes series – distributed globally by a media powerhouse – can do for a sports team or league.
‘Break Point’ is the tennis version, released in January, and a joint collaboration between the ATP, WTA and the sport’s four Grand Slam tournaments, and ‘Full Swing’, chronicling a tumultuous year on the PGA Tour, are the latest examples.
It’s a good moment to get inside the sports documentary story – and to consider the art, science and hard economics of getting a major sports original to air. We’ll do that later today on Leaders Live, when we’ll go behind-the-scenes on sports docs in the company of ‘No Woman, No Try’ director Victoria Rush and John McKenna, CEO and Co-Founder of Noah Media Group, the production company behind the likes of ’14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible’; ‘Arsene Wenger: Invincible’; and ‘Finding Jack Charlton’.
ATP Tour Chief Executive Massimo Calvelli will be live on the show too, reviewing his own ‘Break Point’ experience and explaining how the tour has been getting Netflix-ready, in the expectation of of a crop of curious future fans discovering tennis.
The show is live via the Leaders LinkedIn and Twitter feeds from 15.00 GMT; that’s 10.00 on the East Coast. And it’ll be available on-demand and as a podcast shortly afterwards.
EYES ON THIS – Watch how these things develop to understand the future
LIV it up: There has been some vocal sneering at LIV Golf’s announcement that it has partnered with CW Network, for live coverage in the United States. It’s the tour’s first major broadcast agreement and means coverage in the US at least will no longer be available live on YouTube, as was the case during LIV’s first year. Whilst it’s true to say CW does not have the profile or penetration of other free-to-air US networks, it does have a powerful new owner in Nexstar Media Group, which has over 200 affiliates across the United States and closed a deal to take a 75% stake in CW at the end of last year. LIV is CW’s first live sports relationship and whilst its wider plans for sport are as yet unclear, two notable executive hires in recent weeks suggest there is at least an ambition to invest and grow. CW has hired Heather Olander from NBCUniversal as Head of Unscripted Programming, while just this week the company has announced the appointment of Chris Spadaccini, formerly of Warner Media Entertainment and HBO, as its new Chief Marketing Officer. Expect to see both at a LIV event at some point this season. The first event of the year takes place in Mexico later this month.
Capital Ideas: It’s a coincidence, but it is certainly striking that the stark numbers in Deloitte’s recently-released Football Money League report underlining the Premier League’s rapidly increasing dominance of European football has been followed by a rash of reports about potential investors in some of the continent’s other significant leagues. The Financial Times reported on Monday that Sixth Street, the firm which has already taken a chunk of FC Barcelona’s future media rights revenues, is among those evaluating a bid for a stake in the Bundesliga’s commercial and media rights. The DFL – despite currently not having a permanent CEO following the recent departure of Donata Hopfen – is believed to be meeting today to discuss the formation of an entity to house its commercial and media rights, and to consider a number of bids, including that of Sixth Street. The FT suggested that entity could be valued at as much as €18 billion and that the league may be looking to sell a 25% stake. Meanwhile, in Italy, according to Reuters, JPMorgan Chase has expressed an interest in providing between €700 million and €1 billion to the league, with the media rights – Serie A is preparing a tender for the post-2024 cycle – acting as collateral backing the bank’s financing. Goldman Sachs is also reported to have expressed an interest in investing. Serie A has come close before to adopting a model not unlike what the Bundesliga is said to be planning: however a plan to sell a 10% stake in a dedicated league media entity to CVC Capital Partners for €1.7 billion in 2020 was ultimately blocked by a group of clubs. In March last year, Ligue 1 confirmed it had sold a 13% stake in its media rights business to CVC, for €1.5 billion. CVC also has a relationship with LaLiga, in which it has invested €1.994 billion into the league and its clubs and will receive 11 per cent of league media rights over a 50-year period. That deal prompted legal action led by FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. As Serie A and the Bundesliga ponder their options and consider capital injection, the imperious Premier League watches on from atop its perch.
We Are Social’s comprehensive – and comprehensive is the word – annual overview of digital consumption and trends is out. This is one of many, many slides which provides a neat summary of social media activity per platform, for active users aged 16-64.
In the Mixed Zone with… Scott Kegley, Vice President, Digital Strategy at AMB Sports & Entertainment and Austin Hittel, Director of Video Production & Broadcast at the Atlanta Falcons, who are part of the team behind Ticketmaster Studios, the Falcons’ new in-house production facility, which opened earlier this month.
What kind of opportunity does Ticketmaster Studios open up for the Falcons??
Kegley: “Ticketmaster Studios is a game changer for our digital team. First, the new facilities provide us with a much more advanced footprint to produce content. In the past, we had to make do with makeshift podcast facilities and repurposing other rooms for various shoots. Now, we have a first-class production facility, conveniently situated next to the team locker rooms and cafeteria.
“We have two control rooms, allowing us to maximise the time of our players. We have limited windows in between the football schedule, and now we can record a studio shoot and a podcast simultaneously, for example.
“Ultimately, the studio allows us to better tell the story of our players and of this franchise. Falcons fans are actively seeking out news and entertainment relating to their team. Ticketmaster Studios gives us increased capabilities to be able to not only meet that demand but do so with best-in-class programming.
“None of this would have been possible without the forward-looking vision of our Owner and Chairman, Arthur Blank, and our Vice Chairman, Steve Cannon. They had the foresight, passion, and support for this project. There were so many people that helped bring the vision to life, but it started with the two of them.”
What are some of the key production innovations/elements included in the facility?
Hittel: “The versatility was a key fundamental that drove a good amount of our production decisions for Ticketmaster Studios. Both in the many different types of physical production capabilities but also in our ability to adapt to the needs of the team and player time constraints.
“Over the years, we have been very strong in the cinematography side of production. When adding the broadcast capabilities and beautiful broadcast style set design elements, we made sure that each of the studio spaces will look great on our more cinematic-heavy productions: player features, long-form storytelling, hype content, and more. In Studio A, from the 21’ wide LED wall that can display any video elements we want to display – to the lighting effects that are fully customisable, we feel that we have the versatility needed for years to come for many categories of productions. The Studio B white cyc wall w/RGB lighting effects and the outdoor terrace overlooking the fields also give us many different looks.
“Additionally, our players are one of the biggest pieces of our brand and the driver behind why the studio is pivotal. Working around their schedules was a driving force in many decisions. As mentioned above, the implementation of a smaller, podcast-dedicated control room, in addition to the larger main control room. This allows us to conduct a handful of player-based tasks independently of one another: a show segment in the Studio A, while separately recording a podcast, a press conference going on in the media room, a photo shoot in Studio B, and a feature interview in the outdoor terrace. This will be important during the season or for something like free agency where we will capture a ‘content car wash’ quickly and seamlessly soon after a new player is signed.
“Lastly, from a technology standpoint it allows us to meet the standards for the quality we want to produce: Ross switchers that matches what we have at the stadium, graphics and clip players to make those productions seamless, a very powerful telestrator programme in Piero, NDI bridges to Mercedes-Benz Stadium that will connect the two production facilities, and more.”
What does it allow you to do that the organisation wasn’t able to do before?
Hittel: “The volume was not possible before, and especially not at a high level. Adding all the dedicated production space and capabilities makes it notably easier for us to conduct interviews without the need to build and tear down sets, lighting, cameras, for every single production. This is a gamechanger for us. That time and energy saved from pushing around equipment, building and breaking down can now be turned into the ideation and execution processes to implement more content to connect our fans to the team.”
How will it impact and inform your relationship with commercial partners and what you can offer them?
Kegley: “Ticketmaster is a key partner for us, and they saw the value in working with us to bring Ticketmaster Studios to life. A lot of the programming produced in the studio will be Ticketmaster branded, adding to the outstanding content already produced by our digital team. It’s a brand that is closely aligned with sports and entertainment, making it a perfect fit for both organisations. We can’t thank Ticketmaster enough for sharing our vision to bring best-in-class programming to our fans.
“The studio also affords us additional branded content opportunities. While Studio A is the focal point with three sets that can be reconfigured in multiple ways, we also have a podcast studio and Studio B. We’ve focused quite a bit on podcasts and will look to grow that platform in future years. Studio B is incredibly versatile, allowing us to create various looks for both video and photo within that space. We can not only create great content in each of these spaces, but also produce branded opportunities for our partners.”
What does success look like? What kind of metrics are going to be important in determining that in 12-18 months’ time?
Kegley: “Our first season is going to be one of learning and growth. Our goal is to start actively producing content out of the studio during free agency and the NFL Draft, times of peak interest for our fans. We’ll be switching from a post-production to a live-to-tape or live workflow, which is a big shift. We want to use the offseason to establish new workflows that we can take full advantage of the coming 2023 season.
“In terms of key metrics, we’re actively analysing the engagement on the content that we produce. By producing content more efficiently given the new facilities, we hope we can increase the quality of the content we produce while also increasing the engagement on our content. That doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in quantity, but rather meeting our fans where they are in the most effective manner.”
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