In Australia the cat was set amongst the pigeons when Optus won the rights to broadcast the English Premier League in Australia. Well, a similar cat – but a whole lot bigger, is about to run around the US broadcast pigeons as Twitter does a deal with the NFL to broadcast Thursday Night football.
— Roger Goodell (@nflcommish) April 5, 2016
Sure, here in Australia we don’t care too much what the NFL are doing, but what this deal is doing is painting a very interesting picture of the future of sports viewing.
The Optus EPL deal is arguably much more disruptive than Twitter potentially broadcasting an NFL game – Optus own every single broadcast right. TV, Online and Mobile. That means Fox Sports won’t have any EPL games.
To get the sport to the Aussie Fans, Optus have done a deal with SBS to broadcast some content, but not all the games in the same way they were on Foxtel. Instead, Optus is hoping EPL fans will sign up to Optus broadband and get “Optus TV with Fetch” – this nifty little box streams TV channels via the internet and Optus is launching a 24/7 Football channel just for the EPL.
Additionally, you’ll be able to watch a new Optus EPL app on your mobile or online.
That’s a brave brave new world. But the EPL (With due respect to its fans) is not the big-league in Australia.
The NFL is one of the richest sporting events in America and it’s broadcast rights are worth in the order of $25 billion a year – thats US dollars.
So imagine one of the games was available to stream on Twitter? Imagine need to have a Twitter account to watch it.
That’s probably something like the grand plan – starting somewhat slowly with Thursday Night football.
The biggest companies in the world are all trying to get more users, more regular use from their users and to know more about you so they can get their share and a growing share of the advertising dollars which are shifting more and more to digital properties.
We’re entering a world where the biggest telecommunications companies, social networks and technology companies like Google will be competing against traditional media and broadcast companies for the what has been traditionally the holy grail of broadcasting – sports rights.
Sports broadcasting attracts massive audiences, huge advertising revenue. Live Sports broadcasting along with live Reality TV are the best thing Free-to-Air TV has in its arsenal to maintain audiences and advertising revenue – if companies like Optus, Telstra, Vodafone, Facebook, Google and Twitter start bidding for rights like the NRL and AFL not only will the price go up, but potential viewers will be forced to follow the new wave of broadcast platforms.
Seems great for the sporting codes with the potential for a huge windfall – but for viewers, this brave new world will take a lot of adjusting to.