SBJ/January 9-15, 2017/Media

NBC Sports, Turner combine streaming services

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NBC’s Playmaker Media and Turner’s iStreamPlanet partnered on the Rio Olympics. They aim to give BAMTech more competition.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
NBC Sports Group and Turner are combining their streaming services in an attempt to better compete with BAMTech, the technology company spun off from MLB Advanced Media.

The two broadcasting companies are partnering NBC’s Playmaker Media and Turner’s iStreamPlanet to help leagues and other networks provide over-the-top and video-on-demand services. The two divisions will continue to operate under their own brands, but they plan to go to market together.

“The market needs an alternative solution to BAMTech,” said Mio Babic, founder and CEO of iStreamPlanet. “It’s the only game in town outside of NeuLion … The market really needs a competitive solution.”

BAMTech boosted its coffers last year when ESPN invested $1 billion for a one-third stake in the venture, a move that is expected to lead to the creation of an ESPN-branded streaming service. The investment underscores the importance that traditional television networks are putting on streaming services as a new way to deliver video.

Babic said the combined efforts of NBC and Turner will target around 50 brands that Playmaker and iStreamPlanet believe they can help grow. They also expect to make an international push.

Babic said he tested the water through several confidential meetings and came away convinced that a market exists.

Currently, Playmaker streams the NFL, NHL, NASCAR, Premier League and Triple Crown races — all events to which NBC holds the rights. IStreamPlanet streams NBA League Pass, ELeague, the NCAA tournament and 2017 PGA Championship, all events to which Turner holds rights.

“This is not about huge volume; this is not about having 3,000 customers,” Babic said. “It’s about having 30-50 customers that we can help grow their businesses and build their digital brands.”

The two companies described the deal as a partnership. They would not offer specifics on how they would split revenue.

The partnership makes sense in that NBC and iStreamPlanet are longtime partners, going back more than seven years. Most recently, the two partnered on the Rio Olympics, where more than 100 million unique users consumed 3.5 billion minutes of video over 19 days. When NBC approached Turner about partnering, Turner jumped at the chance.

“It came out of the course of nature. We’ve been partnered with iStream since the Vancouver Olympics in 2010,” said Eric Black, CTO of NBC Sports Group Digital. “We are good friends and veterans of the space. We grew up together doing this.”

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