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The Changing Landscape of Sports Broadcasting

Over-The-Top (OTT) streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video continue to be a growing threat to traditional TV broadcasters.

A recent report by Ofcom found that young people (16 – 24 year old’s) are watching a third less television through traditional broadcasters than they did in 2010, as they increasingly turn to online streaming platforms and social media.

Streaming platforms are capable of having the presence and audience of traditional broadcasters, without having the same overhead costs associated with them. This provides OTT platforms with the potential to invest billions of pounds in acquiring original content and changing viewing habits.

The emergence of OTT streaming platforms and the shift by viewers towards consuming content digitally has never been more prevalent than in the sports industry.

Sky Sports revealed viewing figures for Premier League matches across all Sky Sports live TV channels slumped to a seven year low as they fell 14% during the 2016/17 football season. Sky blamed the slump on viewers switching to digital platforms to consume sport. The switch is highlighted through the rise in popularity of its own online streaming services Sky Go and Now TV which saw a 31% increase on viewing figures for the same period.

Sports Broadcasting on Mobile Devices

Sports broadcasters are seeing an increase of streaming on mobile devices.

Amazon recently outbid Sky for the UK contract to broadcast the ATP World Tour from 2019. The £10 million-a-year deal makes its online streaming service, Amazon Prime Video, the new home for men’s tennis outside of the four grand slam tournaments. As a result, for the first time since its launch in 1991, Sky Sports will no longer broadcast men’s elite tennis.

The English Football League has also followed suit with digital sports broadcasting, launching its own online streaming service ‘iFollow’ for overseas supporters. In the USA, the NBA basketball league has recently signed a five-year extension to the internet streaming deal it has with Tencent. The deal is reported to be worth a staggering $700million.

Globally, OTT streaming service DAZN continues to expand as it enters the Canadian market. Dubbed the ‘Netflix of sport’, DAZN acquired a multi-sport package of rights from broadcaster – BeIN Sports. The sub-licensed package includes live and on-demand rights to a host of Europe’s top football leagues and competitions, as well as other sports such as rugby, tennis, motorcycling, ice hockey and darts. Canada has become DAZN’s fifth territory following prior entries into Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Japan.

It’s evident that OTT streaming services will continue to disrupt the traditional sports broadcasting landscape. The changing habits of viewers and the value of the deals emphasise the need for sports rights holders to actively consider streaming platforms as part of their rights exploitation strategy for video coverage and other content.

Mark Loosemore has negotiated and advised on numerous sports media rights deals, including those involving English Premier League football clubs, the English Football League (EFL) and major broadcasters such as BBC, ITV, Sky and Eurosport. Please contact Mark today for a free initial discussion.

Call: 029 2022 4433 or email:

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