The future of sports: streaming platforms

Digital platforms seem to be essential for sports to survive the coronavirus

Man watching a soccer game from his computer.

With the pandemic, sports have had to find alternatives so that fans are close to their favorite teams and leagues. / Photo: Unsplash / Composition: LatinAmerican Post

LatinAmerican Post | Juan Sebastián Salguero Bernal

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Leer en español: El futuro de los deportes: las plataformas de streaming

It is no secret to anyone that soccer moves millions of followers. This sport has a worldwide influence, which, for entrepreneurs, soccer clubs and players means a lot of money. As in any business, companies will seek to maximize their profits. For the leaders of the Premier League, the professional English football league, this is no different. Despite being the league with the most money in the world, it is considering increasing revenue through game broadcasts using a streaming service, leaving behind the pay-television model.

For the English, innovation in these issues is not new. Not long ago the highest category of English football was called the First Division, which was in force from 1888 to 1992. Later, the First Division would become the second category of soccer in this country, until it was dissolved in 2004 when it changed its name to the Football League Championship. The change of name of the first division was due to the crisis that the English were going through in the late 1980s in terms of football. The punishment of not participating in European tournaments as a result of the Heysel Tragedy, the increasing fame of the Italian and Spanish leagues, and the low income from television rights created discontent in the English teams.

At the beginning of the 90's the situation of English soccer began to change, having more public in its stadiums and a better image internationally. However, the situation was not the same with the system that was used to reach agreements with television rights contracts. For this reason, the 22 teams that were part of the First Division decided to leave this league, and later, in 1992, the Football Association Premier League was created, under which the teams could negotiate directly for these rights. What happened in 1992 may be a precedent for what may be about to happen with this league and television operators.

Also read: These are the soccer teams that bet on eSports

According to the newspaper The Sun, the Premier League would be on the verge of reaching an agreement to broadcast their matches on a streaming service. Taking into account that free transmission services have had significant growth in recent years, for example, Netflix, Spotify, Skype, WhatsApp and YouTube, this model can be a very good option. Following the rise of Netflix, multiple streaming services have been created due to their popularity and ease of consuming content. As with Blockbuster, other businesses have been overshadowed and it appears that cable television can be quite affected.

In an interview, Premier League CEO Richard Master has made forceful statements on the matter. Master assured The Sun that they are ready to test new markets and that eventually, the English league will switch to a mixed service in which the Premier will be able to sell match content directly to the consumer, helping fans who are being forced to subscribe to Sky and Bt Sport when they want to watch a legally televised game. This would cut costs for a fan who only uses this cable service to watch matches, from paying close to £ 1,000 to around £ 100 a year. With this type of business, the Premier League is expected to increase club profits by about £ 1.3 billion a year.

This situation with these platforms is not new, although it is recent, in sports matters. There are models of digital platforms that coexist with cable television. For example, the Bundesliga, the German league, is thinking of opening up to this type of business by diversifying the type of content, including the sale of match summaries or paid "highlights" for digital platforms. All this in order to increase the income for the teams. Meanwhile in Spain, the streaming platforms Mitele and DAZN compete for the Streaming market for sports rights of various competitions in the country, charging subscriptions of 35 euros per month and having great reception among soccer fans in that country.

Also read: 5 Latino leagues that switched to virtual soccer

In the United States there are varied offers of streaming services for leagues in different countries, you can find FuboTV, B / R Live, Bleacher Report Live, GolTV, DishLatino and even ESPN + itself, whose prices range from $ 5 to $ 80. It is worth clarifying that the price depends on the type of content, the number of leagues, and the different channels to which users want to subscribe. This type of business in the North American country seems to be growing and streaming platforms seem to increase in proportion.

In Latin America, the situation for television rights also seems to emerge. In Colombia, in 2019 the sale of Professional Football rights was made, at a national level, the premium channel Win Sport was the one that kept these rights, substantially expanding the resources for the teams, but preventing it from being broadcast. With this sale, users will have to pay a registration (about $ 8 per month) to the channel and the application that has a streaming service. This system started operating from January 2020, and despite the great controversy that was generated by this new system among fans, the report by Kantar Ibope (a company that measures audience levels) affirms that Canal Win was the most popular sports channel in Colombia during the month of April. 

Like many businesses, the world of sports seems to be heading for digital platforms. The growth of these services does not seem to stop.