2016 has turned into a momentous year for sports, just not so much on the field. It can finally be christened the when sports, much like TV series, went finally online.
There as so many examples`from the year so far including:
- Twitter signing a deal with the NFL to show 10 Thursday night games live
- YouTube streaming both the Europa League and Champions League finals live this year
- Facebook streaming a women’s La Liga game live for the first time at the end of the football season in May 2016
Twitter, more than any of the other social networks has caught a march on bringing sports online. It screened Wimbledon on its platform this past summer, acting really as an example of how the NFL games will look, while also agreeing a deal to show Premier League highlights.
However, what I would hazard to say is that we’re seeing the first fragmentation of sports, especially live sports online, much s Netflix and other on-demand providers have revolutionised TV. See the recent deal from Disney to buy part of the MLB’s technology unit as further evidence of the goal rush currently underway for sports rights.
Most important to say is that this won’t hang traditional broadcasters out to dry. Look at how well the BBC has performed during this Olympics as evidence of the power of prime-time TV broadcasting sports. TV channels, in the future, will likely become co-broadcasters, reaching as wide an audience as possible. However, the online experience, in terms of the engagement level it can offer, compared to sitting in front of the TV, should have traditional broadcasters a tad worried. This integrated experience is likely to be highly sought after by the biggest brands in the world as they vie for consumer’s attention (and most importantly their money) in the years to come.
Watch this space.