Social Media and OTT Platforms Muscle in on Traditional TV Sports Broadcasting Market
We look at the emerging trend of social media companies and over-the-top subscription platforms entering the sports broadcasting market


Social media companies and over-the-top (OTT) subscription platforms are targeting the sports broadcasting market traditionally occupied by TV broadcasters. 

Sky and BT have recently retained control of the main Premier League broadcasting packages for a reported £4.46 billion, with Amazon reportedly bidding for the remaining packages. Amazon's recently agreed five year deal to broadcast the US Open tennis tournament in Ireland and the UK is a notable example of social media companies entering the sports broadcasting market. As a significant source of income, it is important for sports organisations to maximise the value of their broadcasting agreements while taking opportunities to reserve certain media rights to exploit on their own platforms.

In a traditional broadcasting agreement, a sports organisation would grant an exclusive licence to one or more broadcast partners to broadcast live sporting events and would grant a separate licence to broadcast a highlights show, such as BBC's Match of the Day. However, sports organisations have increasingly sought to reduce the scope of traditional sports broadcasting agreements by reserving non-traditional media rights with the aim of producing their own content. For example, substantial video clip coverage on the official GAA Twitter account suggests that it has reserved certain video clip rights to leverage across its own platforms. Reserving rights for its own platform allows a sports organisation to raise the sport's profile by encouraging press coverage and grassroots participation, and by growing sponsorship revenue from increased exposure to its brand.

OTT subscription platforms have also emerged as an alternative way for sports organisations to exploit their own content, bypassing traditional TV broadcasters and allowing sporting events to be streamed directly to viewers. Traditional TV sports broadcasting rights are licenced separately in each territory. For example, RTE and Sky have exclusive rights to broadcast hurling and gaelic football matches in Ireland. However, an OTT platform can target markets other than those territories licenced under the traditional broadcasting agreement. GAAGO, a partnership between the GAA and RTÉ, is a subscription OTT platform which offers live streaming of hurling and gaelic football matches in over 180 territories outside of Ireland. An OTT platform, such as GAAGO, allows sports organisations to reach viewers worldwide without negotiating with TV broadcasters in each territory.

The emergence of social media and OTT platforms in the sports broadcasting market represent an opportunity for sports organisations to tailor its broadcasting offering while maximising revenue and exposure to its sport.

William Fry's experience in this area includes recently advising Horse Racing Ireland on a five-year agreement to broadcast Irish horse racing on Racing UK.

Contributed by Patrick Murphy


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