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Bulletin length: 1,683 words – it’s an 8-minute read
Leaders Broadcast Disruptor of the week: LFP Media’s Martin Aurenche
Leaders in London, Bangalore and New York
Freelance challenges amid industry crisis
Women’s sport coverage and controversy
Uefa reveals headline broadcast numbers
Broadcast market SWOT analysis: Carlo De Marchis on Italy
LEADERS BROADCAST DISRUPTOR OF THE WEEK
Who? Martin Aurenche
What? Senior Media Director, LFP Media
Why? Aurenche has been announced as a new key executive at LFP Media, the new, CVC-powered, commercial offshoot of the Ligue de Football Professionnel, which runs Ligue 1 in France. Aurenche arrives from BeIN Sports, one of Ligue 1’s major broadcast rights partners in many years, in a move which significantly boosts the in-house expertise and negotiating prowess at LFP Media, now under the stewardship of Ben Morel. Alongside Aurenche, Jerome Dumois has also joined the new LFP Media top team as Senior Transformation and Innovation Director, as the organisation prepares to go to market for its next cycle of domestic and international rights.
THE BIG PICTURE
This is the Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin, opening the door and having a rummage for choice cuts, treats and nutrition from inside the sports broadcasting and content sectors. Good to have your attention – and look forward to seeing some of you at the big awards do in London later tonight.
Who’s the media/broadcast executive we need to have on stage at Leaders Week London (Wednesday 18th/Thursday 19th October) this year?
We’re heading for India soon – and we are excited about it. But as we build out the programme and experience, we’d love to know more about your organisation’s current and planned relationship with an utterly fascinating media and sports market. How are you thinking about it?
And let us know if you’re in New York on Monday 22nd May and you’d like to be considered for selection for our latest Broadcast Disruptors Think Tank. A roomful of senior leaders, a relaxed and private environment to share ideas and solutions, plus spend some quality time with peers – what’s not to like?
It’s all part of a busy week for us in New York. On Tuesday 23rd and Wednesday 24th, we’ll present 4se New York: sport meets entertainment meets lifestyle meets culture, but of course everything discussed will be underpinned by the changing world of media and how consumers are behaving. Disney Advertising President Rita Ferro and Eli Manning – one half of the Manningcast, amongst a few other achievements – lead the line-up. It’ll be a terrific few days and there’s still time to book your seat at Chelsea Industrial.
EYES ON THIS – Watch how these things develop to understand the future
Freelance Fret: More difficult days for the media and broadcast sectors. Disney has made the headlines this week, with a new wave of lay-offs impacting ESPN – including a number of senior executives – but across the media world, belts are being tightened and efficiencies are being sought. Corporate strategies are what they are, but hundreds, maybe thousands, of people across the sports broadcast space are being impacted. Solidarity if you’re among them. Some of these big media swerves in direction are also having an impact on the finances and working patterns of many freelancers, for whom an already-uncertain game has become even more so. Anecdotally, changes – and a lack of certainty about those lurches, as new executives take the helm – within at least one major sports broadcaster operating in the UK are causing particular challenges for many long-serving freelance specialists.
All publicity is good publicity?: With the countdown well and truly on until the Fifa Women’s World Cup (sidenote: lots of TV rights still unsold in key markets, as Fifa demands more investment from broadcasters), a new Friday night TV deal in place for the WNBA across America, and more record crowds for games across the world, it’s clear women’s sport has plenty of momentum right now. But every event and league is operating in a cluttered wider sports environment, so a question that may be asked more frequently in the coming months is the extent to which women’s sport requires more controversy, more noise, to generate even greater interest and mainstream appeal. It was a question Jo Osborne, newly installed as Sky’s first Head of Women’s Sport, tackled on Leaders Live this month. “I don’t know if it’s about controversy,” she said. “I think there’s often something levelled at women’s sport that it’s too ‘nice’ – and I don’t really know what to make of that criticism. I think it’s important we treat women’s sport seriously when we talk about it and analyse it – and we’ll say when we think someone’s had a bad game, and we’ll say when someone’s had a blinder. That’s important, to generate some debate. I don’t think it needs more controversy, I think people are drawn to great drama and action – whether that’s on or off the pitch, it doesn’t really matter. I think it’s really important we just don’t dumb down by always talking about the lifestyle elements: there’s some really great sport being played all over the world by women, so I think that should be enough of a draw.”
Uefa, European football’s governing body, released its 2021/22 Annual Report earlier this month, providing a healthcheck on the state of the game across its competitions and territories. The report includes highlights of Uefa’s broadcast output, including some top-line numbers from its OTT streaming platform Uefa TV, which launched in June 2019 and has become home for live coverage of various draws for Uefa competitions and national team games, as part of Uefa’s Nations League tournament, in markets where matches are not sold to broadcasters.
Source: Uefa Annual Report 2021/22
BROADCAST MARKET SWOT ANALYSIS
Italy…by ‘A guy with a scarf‘, Carlo de Marchis,Advisor and C-suite executive with 35 years experience in sport and media.
• Passion for sports: Italians are known for their passion for sports, especially football, which creates a strong demand for sports media content. The telecom and pay-TV service revenues in Italy were valued at US$27.9 billion in 2020 and are forecasted to grow at a CAGR of more than 1.5%.
• Established market players: Italy has well-established sports media companies, such as Sky, DAZN, RAI, and Mediaset, that have experience and resources to deliver high-quality content.
• Richness of offer: There is a lot of sport to watch in Italy and even if football is the undisputed leader, more and more sports are finding ways to reach fans through digital platforms which are less constrained than traditional broadcast.
• Prime Video streaming the UEFA Champions League, DAZN apps (now with Eleven added), Sky Now’s offering, Warner Bros. Discovery and others have finally created solid digital offering even in Italy.
• New entrants like OneFootball, Helbiz, Mola (which recently introduced a pay barrier) are a sign that the market is vital and also that mid-tier sports attract an interest.
• The pandemic silver lining has modernised the country in terms of access.
• Fragmentation: I have counted 483 competitions, sold to 50+ media companies. Meanwhile, people start to be confused about what to watch where and may be willing to pay mostly for major sports, with nobody offering enough bang for the bucks.
• Sky Sport, who previously mostly dominated the landscape for sport in Italy, making it also simple for users to know what to buy, has now lost its leadership position.
• RAI, the free-to-air state-owned TV, has minimal sport offering left – apart from the mandated events. Mediaset/Inifinity has also seen a reduced footprint in sport.
• Technology: The relative below-average quality of infrastructure and streaming apps in Italy as compared to the major streaming platforms (Netflix, etc…), with DAZN being the best in class.
• Italian audience is less tech and digital-savvy than average European ones, a factor which could mean slow adoption of more sophisticated experiences.
• The (literally) just announced changes to the Lega Serie A football approach to media rights – more sophisticated rights packages that reduce exclusivity with the intent to make football more accessible and competition wider in terms of product offering to users – could potentially open market opportunities.
• The length of media rights has been extended by the government to 5 years from the previous limit of 3, which opens up space for longer term investments from media companies in a better quality product offering and more innovation.
• Lega Serie A announcing a TV and Radio channel also opens new scenario and a potential model for streaming/broadcasting live matches when the time is right.
• DAZN’s Lega Serie A deal in these past years – even if with a rocky start – has eventually brought more users towards streaming and together with the pandemic digital push, modernised the Italian audience’s digital habits.
• There is a legislation effort in place to fight piracy for live sport specifically, that could provide significant upside to sport entities and broadcasters to re-invest.
• Italian national team not qualifying for major football tournaments: apart from making most Italians unhappy, it creates a substantial risk in terms of monetisation and brand relevance especially for free-to-air broadcasters.
• Italian sport (football mostly but not only) still being plagued by violence, racism and similar issues may alienate a certain part of the audience in the long term.
• These uncertain social and economic times have reduced people’s spending power, impacting very often the propensity to pay for sport content.
• Big tech players entering the media rights market (Apple, Amazon etc…) could potentially put at risk more traditional media companies.
• Lega Serie A going direct-to-consumer at some point could have the same disruptive effect.
• Piracy is still a relevant concern in the country with a 2022 Statista published report that shows a 7% to 10% CAGR (growth per year) between 2017 and 2019. In 2019, the estimated number of illegal streams rose to almost 31 million.
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