The 2022 Media and Entertainment Leader Summit revealed a glimpse into the future of sports broadcasting, with insights from DAZN Group, Eurovision Sport, Synamedia, LaLiga and Adeia, reports Sheryl Hickey.

The panellists explored the challenges and opportunities for sports in the media and entertainment industry, including key topics such as sports rights, Pay TV vs Free platforms, the role of women in sports and the influence of social media were all highlighted.

The future of sports - a broadcast view

The 2022 Media and Entertainment Leader Summit revealed a glimpse into the future of sports broadcasting

Simon Brydon, Senior Director, Sports Rights Anti-Piracy at Synamedia, began by stressing the importance of improving the quality and availability of content: “Digital broadcasting just screams what we’re able to do for consumer choice, and has raised the quality of media entertainment, sports content and sports broadcasting.”

The Future of Sports: Piracy a key challenge

Keegan Pierce, International Development at LaLiga, spoke of plans to continue to increase the value of their content, and invest heavily in anti-piracy, “in terms of working with different models on distribution, and certainly working with different social media strategies as well.

“The onus is on us around whether to make sure that you have a response to the strategic challenges of our day.”

Brydon also chimed in on the issue of piracy, relating to the average household income and the price of streamers, suggesting that with the current budget crisis, these costs are unsustainable economically: “There is a host of reasons for piracy and it’s only going to get worse.

“In our research with the private consumers in various markets globally all over the world, South America, Asia, UK and European markets, a vast amount of legal spend - 84% of pirate consumers are buying something illegally. And then we’re choosing where to go to talk about their viewership. So that means they are under pressure economically - they’re paying for a new sport.”

Watch more The power of piracy data

Jorge P Sousa, Managing Director at Eleven Sports Portugal, also highlighted the importance of consolidation in the industry: “There is a crisis hitting all of us severely.” He also emphasised that the future of sports broadcasting needs to be a collaborative effort between broadcasters.

The future of sports - a broadcast view (1)

Does the future of sports broadcast need to be a collaborative effort between broadcasters or is there a need of connecting with the audience

Whilst Jean-Baptiste Casta, Head of Strategy & Business Operations at Eurovision Sport, asserted the need of connecting with the audience.

DAZN Group’s EVP Business Development Peter Parmenter predicted: “In 2023/24 we’re going to see amazing creativity across some of these new platforms. And I think once some of us have fixed the foundations of delivery, then it’s time to break out, become creative and work with a bigger range of influences. I think especially in a difficult advertising market where all marketing budgets are going to be under pressure. I think you’re going to see a huge amount of creativity.”

The discussion opened with insight from Omdia that introduced the concepts, challenges and opportunities in the sports production industry, including the issue of increasing female audiences in sport, pointing out that in Brazil and Mexico this is already a dominant audience. Finding the right platform to promote that content was also a key concern.

The Future of Sports: Smart devices and VR

How audiences engage in watching sports, such as via VR headsets, smart speakers and smart watches was also discussed. Speakers agreed that audiences are much more likely to engage in those digital spaces and own that technology. These trends create multiple opportunities in the digital space not only in the metaverse, offering different ways of engaging with the consumer.

Peter Johnson, Vice President of Intellectual Property Licensing at Adeia pointed out: “You need to maximise the value of your rights. You need to work with requirements. You need to make sure that you also have some idea of how you’re bringing that viewer along to greater levels of acquisition and engagement with your competition.”

Keegan Pierce, International Development, LaLiga UK & Ireland added that this was “based on the reality on the ground of a real market - Ad vs free - and how you’re bringing the viewer along.”

A continuing challenge for growing audiences is that so many games are scheduled for broadcast at the same time i.e. on a Sunday. Jean-Baptiste Casta, Head of Strategy & Business Operations, Eurovision Sport detailed how the company is tackling streaming many games at the same time with various solutions: “(With) many platforms I suppose you will have the capacity to stream many fields at the same time. And our vision is also to be able to provide local languages.” He spoke of a new AI solution they are using to translate in real time any news and any commentary from anywhere in Europe.

The Future of Sports: Ecosystem development

Johnson noted that even very large organisations are equally affected by streaming issues, referring to Amazon’s ‘Thursday Night Football’ problem. He continued to outline the benefits of ecosystem development with more streaming and more apps: “I think we’ll see over the course of the next decade, you know, in the next 10-20 years, we’ll see what happened with that and that brings with it this seismic shift from the cable to streaming – it’s a seismic technology shift as well. And those who have those technology rights, in addition to content rights, will be pretty well poised to leverage that.”

Both Sousa and Parmenter revealed that TikTok helped immensely to bring new fans, producing content to be watched vertically. As Parmenter put it: “You can try everything yourself or you can fish where the fish are,” within those communities.

On the topic of FAST, it was agreed that the biggest gap is in sport. Parmenter commented: “I see them both as a marketing opportunity as an upsell of a service and I would ask any of those vendors who are involved in the development of FAST channels to not make them dumb, to make them clever to make them smart to add clickable things. Add QR codes that can relate from one service to the other.” According to Parmenter, finding a way of curating these opportunities is the answer.

The Future of Sports: More to be done on inclusion

Pierce raised the concern about inclusion in sport, in particular relating to women’s sport and seeing more women participating in the industry: “There’s so much more work that all the members of sport entertainment broadcasting can do to foster those pathways to inclusion, in terms of women playing sport and as fans of sport, which are both increasing…The success of clubs like FC Barcelona and in the women’s Champions League, and it’s a huge growth area. And there’s a real opportunity to continue amplifying our audiences based upon all that.”

Brydon’s closing thought was a positive take on the sports content industry: “We live in a golden era of content and a long may it continue.”

The Media and Entertainment Leader Summit 2022 panel discussion was hosted by Maria Rua Aguete, Senior Director Media and Entertainment at technology research powerhouse Omdia.

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