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Bulletin length: 3,174 words – it’s a 10-minute read
Broadcast Disruptor of the week: Coinbase CMO Kate Rouch
The next cycle of European Olympic rights
The spate of children-focused sports broadcasts
Making women’s sport a habit
The IOC’s main media man Timo Lumme on streaming
In-content Super Bowl branding delivers for brands
Sky’s Dave Gibbs on streaming ‘wars’, the metaverse and Sky Glass
LEADERS BROADCAST DISRUPTOR OF THE WEEK
Who? Kate Rouch What? Chief Marketing Officer, Coinbase Why? Rouch and her team, plus the Accenture Interactive agency, were the brains behind Coinbase’s bold and unusual 59-second spot during NBC’s Super Bowl broadcast. The advert featured a QR code bouncing slowly around the black screen. Viewers who scanned the code accessed the Coinbase website where they could sign up for $15 in bitcoin. Despite a brief website snafu, the metrics were all positive for the company: over 20 million hits on its landing page in one minute, with engagement six times higher than its previous benchmarks. “We heard a lot of messages from advertisers during the Super Bowl, and we wanted to try something different,” Rouch said. “We wanted to do something different, something that’s never been done in the history of Super Bowl advertising – a playful, low production nod to a popular internet meme that invites action and discussion both in the living room, and on social media.” Such a high-profile appearance on the biggest advertising stage of all also rubberstamps the re-emergence of the QR code, which although used widely in China and Japan for many years, has re-emerged during the pandemic around the world as a handy and contactless way to access information.
THE BIG PICTURE
This is the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin, your all-you-need briefing on everything important and interesting in sports broadcasting, content creation, distribution and monetisation. Good to have you along, and here’s the usual nudge to encourage industry pals and key colleagues to sign up.
We’re available for your news and views – hit send to [email protected] and [email protected] and we’ll pick it up. And if you’re in the UK and free next Thursday afternoon, let us know if you’d like to be considered for selection for our latest private Broadcast Disruptors Think-Tank in London – topic (and it’s a fun one): ‘Creators, amplifiers and audience-builders: working with the talent’. There’s a couple of places left for what’s always a really valuable format and useful session.
The dust is settling on BT and Discovery’s announcement about a new joint venture in the UK. The deal is expected to close later in Q1, with a full launch planned for some time later in the year – and, presumably, that means a big broadcast job is available for someone to run whatever the new entity ends up being called.
Much has been written and said about what it all might mean for the UK sports rights market. As it stands, BT Sport has a package of Premier League rights, and the Uefa Champions League and Europa League, plus a swathe of other assets including Premiership Rugby and MotoGP. Eurosport brings the Australian Open tennis, cycling’s Grand Tours and more winter sport than you can shake a ski at, plus the rights to the Olympic Games.
The latter deal, part of Discovery’s enormous pan-European agreement with the IOC, runs until after the Paris summer Games of 2024, meaning that the IOC is likely to be back in the marketplace in the not-too-distant future trying to tie-up its next European deal, likely covering Milan-Cortina 2026, Los Angeles 2028 and potentially the 2030 winter and Brisbane 2032 summer Games – for comparison, current US rights holder NBC has a deal in place until then.
Discovery has been successful in sub-licensing portions of rights to regional broadcasters around the content, including to the likes of the BBC and RAI, ensuring a large portion of the Games is available on a free-to-air basis. However, it’s all-but-certain the IOC will look to sell the rights again on a pan-territory basis as it did even before Discovery through its agreements with the European Broadcasting Union. If that’s the case, who is the broadcaster pan-European enough and rich enough to engage Discovery in a battle for the rights (this all assuming the incumbent wants to go again) – and provide the IOC with a genuine competitor to Discovery to help drive up the price? Could it be a fast-emerging NENT? Might it be an Apple or Amazon? Or could it be someone else entirely?
EYES ON THIS – Watch how these three things develop to understand the future
Doing it for the kids: Just as Netflix’s Drive to Survive has inspired a wave of copycat episodic documentary series, we appear to be on the cusp of a spate of sports broadcasts aimed (SpongeBob) squarely at children. It’s unclear exactly how many of the 2.06 million people who tuned in to watch Nickelodeon’s slime-infused broadcast of an NFL play-off game last month were sports industry executives busily making notes on a future case study or a pithy LinkedIn post, but what’s undeniable is that it was the broadcaster’s most-watched programming for four years. Now, Nickelodeon parent ViacomCBS (soon to be Paramount) has announced plans to create and broadcast its own golf tournament featuring holes inspired by Nick programming, professional players like Jon Rahm and Collin Morikawa, celebrities, AR overlays and Nickelodeon talent commentating. Building on CBS’s status as a PGA Tour broadcaster, the Slime Cup will air during the summer. The NBA is also doubling down on a child-focused production, following its tie-up with ESPN and Marvel Entertainment for a regular season game broadcast. The NBA is linking up with Cartoon Network for a Teen Titan-themed highlights package from this weekend’s All-Star Slam Dunk competition, which will be broadcast on Monday. Never one to miss an opportunity, Nike will be presenting partner of the broadcast. In an extraordinary quote, Warner Bros Chief Marketing Officer for Kids, Young Adults and Classics, Tricia Melton, said: “We had to think about what the Teen Titans have not accomplished yet. They’ve sung waffle songs, eaten burritos, starred in their own feature film, watched Space Jam, and now they get to take part in one of the most iconic sporting events.” If, as so often, the world of sport looks to America for inspiration, expect rights holders and broadcasters to be doing it for the kids sooner rather than later. The challenge will be to create something that’s not just memorable for a group of grizzled sports industry executives – a cliched version of kids programming as they would see it – but something genuinely compelling and exciting for a demographic who like what they want and know what they like.
Making it a habit: The UK’s Women’s Sport Trust charity last week revealed the results of its latest research into the visibility of women’s sport, painting a picture of growth and underlining the feeling of building momentum. The research, conducted by Futures Sport and Entertainment, shows that nearly 33 million people watched domestic women’s sport in the UK last year, with The Hundred cricket tournament and FA Women’s Super League responsible for almost 11 million of those new viewers. Of the 4.9 million new viewers to The Hundred, the competition run in parallel with the men’s tournament and broadcast by the BBC and Sky Sports in the UK, 71% have gone on to watch other women’s sport. Digging a touch deeper, the report also examines what might be described as the ‘novelty factor’ of watching women’s sport, with the results indicating there is still much work to be done to encourage viewers to watch regularly and consistently: 42% of the women’s Hundred audience watched the competition on television more than once, compared to 55% for the men’s Hundred. The Premier League figure, by comparison, is 87% (the figure for the current WSL season is 35%). Turning one-time viewership into habit would seem to be the next major area of focus for those tasked with developing, commercialising and growing women’s sports leagues and events.
Timo’s take: As those responsible for figuring out how to measure the US audience for the Super Bowl have found out in recent days, accurate viewership measurement in a multi-media, multi-platform, multi-device world is not exactly the work of a moment. The swirl of numbers around Olympic viewership in different markets over the last few days, as Beijing 2022 continues, paint a confusing and conflicting picture. At yesterday’s daily International Olympic Committee press briefing, Timo Lumme, the organisation’s Managing Director of Television and Marketing Services was on hand to provide some context. Lumme always chooses his words carefully, but, making an early comparison between Beijing 2022 and Tokyo 2020, he neatly summarised the shift taking place across sports broadcasting. “Quite clearly we all see that streaming, even six months later, is even more omnipresent and the Olympics is at an interesting transition stage, as is the media world, between traditional linear television coverage and the exciting possibilities offered by streaming coverage.” Asked specifically about US television ratings on NBC – in general terms, significantly down on previous Games but still relatively enormous – he added: “Media markets change and they change continually. We’ve lived through a period of relative stability and growth but the reality over history is media markets change with new technologies and new ways to consume media. We of course don’t control that. What we do notice is the Olympics maintains a position of pre-eminence and indeed dominance within available market share.” NBC’s current deal runs through the 2032 Brisbane summer Games, and it appears Lumme is in no rush to finalise a further extension – although he did offer a hint about other markets. “What will drive a decision for us is the best market conditions and so there’s no hurry, there’s no decision and in any case our sales cycle is not driven by the appointment of a host city [Salt Lake City has been linked with a bid for the 2034 winter Games]. We will continue to look at the market conditions and at the right time we’ll go to market. In between, we’ll have plenty of activity, some of which you’ll get to know over the coming weeks, to show that we’re keeping busy in other markets around the world.”
The Super Bowl generates more than its fair share of numbers but, aside from the headline figure that 112 million people were watching on NBC and its various digital offshoots, the most interesting from Sunday’s game were probably those provided by Elevate Sports Ventures and cloud-based AI solutions specialists Hive. The two firms teamed up to analyse in-content branding around Super Bowl LVI, revealing that US$170 million in equivalent media value was generated for brands from in-game exposure, including verbal mentions – in other words, during the official pre-game and post-game shows, but excluding the much-analysed adverts.
Total value earned in 2022: US$170 million (versus US$169 million in 2021) – but with 28% less cumulative in-game screen time for brands compared to a year ago (fewer on-camera signage locations and, with full capacity restored, no tarps covering a portion of seats close to the field this year).
Over 75 minutes of cumulative in-game brand exposure.
19 brands earned over 10 seconds of identifiable screen time.
Outside apparel brands, sideline sponsors earned the greatest exposure, with 57% of the remaining screen time; Half-time show promotion (15%) and broadcaster-controlled assets (13%) were next.
In the Mixed Zone with…Dave Gibbs, Director of Product Management, Content Partner Apps, Advertising, Sky
Dave Gibbs joined us on the latest edition of the Broadcast Disruptors Audio Bulletin (available on all your favourite podcast feeds) to help run the rule over some of the big trends and talking points in the industry. After a long stint overseeing Sky’s sports and news digital operation, Gibbs has recently branched out: he’s currently responsible for all third-party applications that appear on the Sky TV platform – including the likes of Amazon, Netflix, YouTube, Spotify and Disney+, as well as the advertising technology that wraps around it. His particular focus is Sky Glass, the new TV the company is producing with Sky built into it.
Who’s winning the streaming wars?
I think the customer is winning the streaming ‘war’, because there has never been a better time to be a viewer of TV. The quality that you’re now seeing, the choice you’ve got, the number of places you can consume it and the different ways you can pay for it – it’s never been there. From a customer perspective, it’s brilliant. What you’re seeing at the moment is the impact of that choice and competition. The customer only has so much time in the day and they will choose where they spend that proportion of their time on entertainment or TV. The customer will demand quality and great choice, and it costs money to produce that content. What that means for us is, we have relationships with all of these partners – they’re on our platform and will continue to be important partners on our platform. If you look at what we’ve done with our new Sky Glass product, we’ve taken that challenge that customers have – having all of that choice comes with a lot of complexity; what platform is that show on, when can I watch it, is it live, is it video on demand? With Sky Glass we’ve tried to build a product that makes sense of that, that brings all of the great content together in one place, that’s easy to find.
Sky Glass is a big shift for us as a business. We produce a TV. We’ve always been a hardware business with set-top boxes, but this takes us a step further into the value chain. It’s a streaming TV, but the only TV with Sky inside it – so all the great stuff you get on Sky Q now lives inside the TV. From a viewer perspective, we’ve put speakers in there so there’s full Dolby Atmos. It’s a step further than where we’ve gone before. I really wanted to be involved in that and the thing that really interested me was our approach to third parties and other platforms – Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Discovery, BBC, ITV, Channel 4 are integrated into the platform in a very different way. The challenge for us was if we’re going to have all of these apps, how do we make it make sense for the customer? I was genuinely excited to go and work on that and I think it’s been really interesting to understand how these bigger streaming platforms and products work and how we can bring them together – nobody’s done what we’ve done with Sky Glass, so it’s been really fun to work on. At the moment [Sky Glass] is in the UK, but there are plans to launch that within our other European territories. We also announced a syndication agreement with Foxtel in Australia – that platform will go and essentially be white-labelled for Foxtel – and then we’ve obviously got the broader Comcast relationship.
What’s Sky’s current take on the metaverse?
I think if you ask 100 people what their definition of the metaverse is you’re going to get lots of different answers. I would almost look at it as a fan and customer, and how I observe my kids behaving in the metaverse. If you have kids of a certain age playing Fortnite, on Roblox, if we don’t think there is going to be some kind of virtual world that exists where people are going to trade virtual goods and communicate with their friends, that is what they’re doing.
We have Sky Worlds, which is arguably a metaverse. It exists on the Oculus Quest. You can go in and watch Premier League football from a box and talk with your friends who are virtual avatars at that point. We’ve been in and around this space for a good few years, from 3D behaviour on devices – Google Cardboard through to Oculus Quest – and that technology has improved over time; it isn’t quite there yet. NBC took our platform technology and are running that during the Olympics, bringing back 8k pictures. But you’re still talking about a very small audience. You need to have a headset, you need to be a Sky subscriber and want to watch the Premier League; that’s a small number of people but I think it’s really important we are there, testing and learning about how people want to behave in these environments, specifically around sport.
What’s your current thinking on user generated content (UGC)?
We’ve invested over the years in a number of youth media businesses and I suppose you’d call that UGC, although a lot of UGC now is very, very well-produced. We took an investment in Whistle Sports a few years ago and that business has pivoted a few times, but they produce good quality content aimed at a specific demographic. We bought the business Diagonal View and its Football Daily channel is still running on that. A lot of that talent now comes on Sky and on a Saturday morning we run the Saturday Social – is that UGC or just the next generation of presenters and talent coming onto established platforms. With my fan or parent hat on, looking at how my kids are consuming YouTube, people like Mr Beast – the biggest-grossing YouTube creator last year, with a huge ad-funded business, a merchandise business, he set up a couple of burger joints, are using that platform in a very professional way. I think we’re always looking at different ways to talk to different audiences and tell our stories around our events. If you look at Sky’s audience, it goes from people who are passionate sports fans who will sit at home in their later years and watch all of the content being produced through to much younger people and families who want to consume that content in a different way. It’s all about balance and finding out how to talk to all of those audiences.
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