What: The market for live-streaming rights is getting even hotter: Verizon just struck a deal with the NBA, while Facebook has hired Eurosport CEO to oversee a multi-billion push into live-streaming of sports events and esport tournaments.
Why it matters: Live sports are the only appointment viewing content category large advertisers still want to spend big chunks of money in. As mobile users increase, platforms need to be quick in their bids to show live sports content online.
A few days before the February 9th deadline for English Premier League streaming packages, Facebook has targeted Peter Hutton, CEO at Eurosport, to oversee the social network’s multi-million live-streaming effort. More than ever, the digital advertising trend pushes major platforms to fight for live sports streaming, and Facebook sure could use the extra help. A few months ago, they pushed a failed US$600 million bid for the rights to cover the Indian Premier League of Cricket.
Even though Hutton is not expected to start his new role until the end of the winter Olympic Games in South Korea, digital streaming rights have a strong presence in the social network’s mind. They’ve been known to partner with Fox Sports to stream Champions League selected matches, as well as some matches from Mexico’s Major League Soccer. There have been reports that Facebook has decided not to bid for NFL streaming, which could mean they will save their efforts for soccer as it is the most-followed sport throughout their network.
Reinforcing sports streaming strategy is one thing, but platforms like Google and Facebook are also looking into expanding their efforts in electronic sports (esports) streaming. Facebook has the advantage here; as the relationship between video games and social media becomes closer, the largest social network has closed a deal with the Electronic Sports League, by which esports fans will be able to follow the Counter Strike: Global Offensive Pro League, and the Electronic Sports League One tournaments.
Verizon in NBA and NFL Deals
In order to compete with Facebook’s video ad business, Verizon has signed an agreement to allow mobile phone users to watch sports for free, but this time with the NBA. Verizon will let users watch up to eight basketball games for free, and viewers who wish to watch games throughout the season can subscribe to the League Pass service for US$99.
Just a few weeks ago, the mobile carrier, owner of Yahoo, closed a US $1.5 billion deal with the NFL to allow users to watch football matches on their mobile phones, through the Yahoo sports app. Verizon’s last deal with the NFL, which runs through the current season, cost the carrier $1 billion over four years. That means Verizon is paying at least 20 percent more per season for the games. With only two more weeks before the Super Bowl, we’ll see what these two media, as well as others like Amazon and Google, decide to do next.
[Featured image by Cleeng.]