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  • Brazil, China on list of most promising countries for sports media

    Four top industry execs took a look at which countries have the biggest potential for growth in sports rights and broadcasting. Oliver Slipper: “We are seeing big growth in South America, especially Brazil. But it’s from a small base. Rights inflation is obviously driven by competition, and now there are four or five players out there buying content in that market.” Michael Payne said that media rights from South America are increasing, but are still a small percentage of overall deals. Payne: “It’s only about 1% of the IOC’s total rights package, but it’s serious money. I think Brazil is probably reaching it’s full level. Of the BRIC markets, the one with the biggest growth potential is China, and that is dependent on the day we have competition. Right now, it’s controlled by the CCTV. But the moment the government opens the door, you will see big increases in China.” Mike Dolan: “Brazil is red hot. With the World Cup and the Olympics and the explosion of disposable income that is hitting the country and will hit it for the next ten years.”

    REVENUE VS. DISTRIBUTION: The balancing of global properties going for revenue in new deals or distribution was also discussed, with Payne warning properties, “You are at your peril if you stretch your revenue an extra 10 percent and you compromise distribution. If you push your revenue and compromise your distribution, it will come back to hurt you.” Slipper said most leagues will go for revenue over distribution: “There aren’t many sports that take a socially responsible view when it comes to distribution over revenue.” But Payne countered, “It’s not socially responsible, it’s a matter of doing good business.”

    Tags: DC, South America, Brazil, NFL, Media, IOC, China, CCTV, Olympics, IBL
  • Cord Cutting? No. But Cord Shaving ...?

    Cable and satellite operators just had a tough quarter in which there was some erosion in their subscriber base. Comcast’s Matt Strauss said that cord cutting isn’t an issue for the cable provider, but that there has been “cord shaving,” where customers downgrade some premium services. He pointed to new services like WatchESPN as features that are helping providers to keep subscribers. Strauss: “As we continue to find ways and add more value and offer more choice, the market has shown people will pay.” Turner exec Jeremy Legg said the big change is that household subscription numbers aren’t growing in the same way they used to. Legg: “If you believe in the pay-TV model, then you have to enhance the pay-TV model. We don’t do a very good job as an industry of marketing the value of the package. If you take your family out to a movie and buy popcorn and a coke, you just spent $50.” By comparison, Legg said cable offers unlimited access to content at a fair price over a month-long period.

    Tags: ESPN, Ping
  • March Madness Live will be free for cable and satellite subscribers

    Turner will not charge for its March Madness Live application in 2013, said Jeremy Legg, Turner's senior vice president for business development and multi-platform distribution, during a session on the challenges of developing TV Everywhere. Instead, it will allow consumers to download the app and begin viewing the NCAA men’s basketball championship games by authenticating their cable and satellite subscriptions.

    The decision marks a change from Turner’s approach in 2012, when it charged $3.99 for an app that allowed people to view games on their mobile phones and tablets but let them view games for free by authenticating their cable or satellite subscriptions on their desktops and laptops. Legg said the change is being made because Turner discovered that authentication worked earlier this year. He added, “We think it’s time to move to that model for the 2013 March Madness.”

    Tags: Ping, NCAA, Basketball, Champion, Champions
  • Comcast's Olympics takeaway: TV Everywhere increases viewers everywhere

    Comcast's Matt Strauss on how letting viewers watch the Olympics everywhere helped drive NBC network ratings.
    Comcast saw a huge increase this year in the number of people who consumed Olympic content on demand at NBCOlympics.com. During the Vancouver Games, it had 3 million viewers, but that number soared to 58 million during the London Games. During a panel on “TV Everywhere,” Comcast’s Matt Strauss, senior vice president for digital and emerging platforms, also took note of new consumption trends. During the day, he said, on-demand consumption would rise steadily and peak at about 8 p.m. Then it would drop. Strauss said, “People would use on-demand to catch up (and) watch great moments … so it was interesting to see how those platforms were very complementary. That in some way helped drive incremental audience to tune in to primetime.” Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics, said the Olympics underscored the appetite for second-screen viewing. Zenkel: “Despite any fears one might have had about exhaustion or cannibalization, in that 17 day window when people were emotionally invested in the Olympics, the more we made available, the more was consumed.”

    Tags: NBC, Olympics, Audi
  • TV Everywhere still 3 years away? Panel says: Yes

    Making authentication simple is the key to truly getting TV Everywhere, panelists said.
    Photo by Marc Bryan-Brown

    It will be at least three years until TV everywhere is full implemented, but the marketing and promotion of it will begin in earnest across all sports in the next six months, said a panel of broadcasters and distributors during a session at the ’12 Sports Media & Technology Conference entitled, “Authentication: TV Everywhere Challenges & Opportunities.” Jeremy Legg, SVP of business development and multi-platform distribution at Turner Broadcasting Systems, said, “The number of programmers that either have not launched TV everywhere or completed TV everywhere deals is getting smaller. Everyone will be on the playing field relatively soon or sooner. Some people will be on the 10 yard line. Some people will be on the 50 yard line.” Reaching a point where everyone has those rights, Legg said, is critical to breaking through and making TV everywhere pervasive.

    The challenges of TV Everywhere


    Jeremy Legg, Turner Broadcasting System
    Damon Phillips, ESPN3
    Matthew Strauss, Comcast Cable
    Gary Zenkel, NBC Olympics


    Matthew Strauss, Comcast Cable’s SVP, digital and emerging platforms, said the effort also will require heavy marketing so that consumers know what TV everywhere is and what content they can access. Strauss: “We can’t assume people are going to understand this. It will require meaningful marketing. When customers understand the value, it will be consumed.” Gary Zenkel said that the process could move quicker if cable and satellite distributors develop systems to reduce the amount of information that consumers must enter to authenticate their subscriptions and watch live sports on any platform at any time. He said that Comcast developed technology that automatically made Olympics video available to its subscribers during the London Games.
    Zenkel: “You’re going to lose people every time you require them to put in some personal information. When the industry gets to a point where that information is not necessary or minimized, people are going to blow through the gates. We saw examples of that in London. We were incredibly encouraged by that.”

    Damon Phillips, Vice President, ESPN3, added that another development that would accelerate the process would be requiring only one authentication that would cover every outlet, from ESPN to Turner to Fox to NBC. Phillips: “When I sign in at a Turner site, I should be able to come to ESPN and not have to sign in.” Strauss said that the cable industry didn’t help itself by calling the process “authentication.” Strauss: “It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.” But he added that the cable industry has “gotten smarter” with the process by doing automatic authentication – by checking IP addresses – so that people at home don’t have to do anything but click “Play.” Strauss: “All of these things are evolving. You want to make it easy and seamless, but it has to be secure. It has to be secure from a rights standpoint.”

    Tags: Media, Olympics
  • Caught on camera: Networking at SMT

    Here are a few scenes from networking breaks at the 2012 Sports Media and Technology Conference.


    Tags: Media
  • Reaching fans in the 21st Century: Warriors co-Owner Vivek Ranadive

    Warriors co-Owner Vivek RanadiveRanadive: "(Sports fan) are true shareholders and partners."
    Photo by Marc Bryan-Brown

    Warriors co-Owner and Vice Chair Vivek Ranadive, founder of Tibco Software, says there are five forces driving the current century: the explosion of data, mobility, the emergence of platforms, the rise of Asia and the notion of math trumping science. Ranadive spoke to the ’12 Sports Media & Technology audience about how sports can deliver better value in the 21st century. He also provided the audience with a case study, showing how his software company has helped the Warriors front office become closely connected to fans.

    On the future of mobile devices, Ranadive said, “Your mobile device is going to be everything. It’s going to be your wallet, your health monitor, how you view content.”

    Ranadive, on fans: “We are blessed in sports because we have fans. I have a software company with customers in every market and they all dream of converting their customers into fans. Fans are engaged. Fans are loyal. Fans evangelize. Fans are committed to your success. They’re true stakeholders and partners.”

    Tags: Asia, Media
  • Will Apple bid for sports right? More from Levy, Skipper and Stern

    From left, Levy, Skipper, Stern and moderator John Ourand.
    Photo by Marc Bryan-Brown

    More quick hits and hot topics from today’s opening panel:

    Skipper, on the shift of sports to cable TV: “The notion that the NBA gave up anything to come to ESPN and TNT is laughable. Look at the position of the league now. You’re not giving up audience by moving into what’s happening next. You actually lose audience by trying to hold onto what happened before.”

    Stern, on new media companies like Apple, Google, etc.: “Ultimately, I think that they all are going to conclude that content is going to drive them because content is what has prevailed.”

    Insights on Sports Media


    David Levy, Turner Broadcasting System
    John Skipper, ESPN
    David Stern, NBA

    Levy, on new media companies becoming bidders for rights: “At some point, someone like a Google, a Microsoft or an Apple will step up and try to buy some rights. I don’t know it will be the NBA or the NFL, but I believe it will be something they’ll try to get.”

    Skipper, on relationships with new media companies: “I don’t see Apple as a competitor. We’re growing our business by creating applications and content for tablets and iPhones.
    Last time I checked, ESPN had the No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 sports apps on Apple devices. We’re putting ads on those and making money. And we have the same conversations with Microsoft. We were on the Surface (launch). We had a built-in application. And we’ll do the same thing with Samsung and Android.”

    Stern, on cord cutting: “It has to be a concern, for those of us who study the industry, that people may not be watching cable or satellite. Even if it’s only 1% to worry about. But that’s why it’s good to have a partner with an over-the-air network. That’s why it’s good to have a social media presence, in some shape or form.”

    Levy, on cord cutting: “What we’re more concerned about are what we call the ‘nevers.’ Those that are never going to get on cable. And we do believe that’s going to start happening with the younger generations. I’m not worried about the cord cutting, I’m worried about the ‘nevers.’”


    Tags: NBA, ESPN, Audi, Media, Microsoft, NFL
  • Hot Topics: Stern, Levy, Skipper on social media, cord cutting and the NY marathon

    ESPN's John Skipper talks about losing soccer rights and his network's commitment to the sport.
    With the presidential election top of mind as the ’12 Sports Media & Technology conference got under way today in New York, NBA Commissioner David Stern commented on how social media has influenced athletes. Stern: “I went over some of the tweets of our players this morning. It’s a new day. You wouldn’t hear players talking about or tweeting about voting and outcomes a decade ago. I think social media has changed that. It has made them more publicly aware, more socially aware.”

    Stern was a panelist in the event’s opening session, titled “From The Top: Insights On Sports Media.” He was joined by ESPN President John Skipper and Turner Broadcasting President of Sales, Distribution & Sports David Levy.

    Among other topics during the panel:

    Skipper commented on discussions between the network and league partners with regard to on-air talent: “When we’re doing games, we of course consult with our partners. We’re licensing their product to put on our air. I will state categorically that the decision not to hire Stan Van Gundy was my decision and only my decision. We looked at a number of people to put on our studio show. I wanted to bring in Bill Simmons, which we did. Simmons had a relationship with Jalen Rose. We brought Stan Van Gundy in to audition. He did very well. We did proceed with a discussion with him about potentially hiring him and then I decided not to. The only time I had a discussion with David [Stern] was when I told him, ‘This is what we’re going to do.’”
    Regarding TV Everywhere and cord cutting, Levy said, “The industry has done a poor job in saying what the value has been for the cable business. It’s good value for $80. And, by the way, TV Everywhere will make it even more valuable. Ultimately, you have to come up with opportunities to make sure that they don’t cut the cord. … 25% of the country now owns a tablet, 94% own a phone and 70% of those phones have video capabilities. If you allow these devices to have this content, and all you have to do is authenticate to get it, that’s giving huge value to all these technologies that people are buying.”

    Skipper also discussed the decision to postpone the ING N.Y. Marathon, which was set to be aired on live TV (ESPN2) for the first time since ‘93. Skipper said, “We were not involved. Nobody asked our opinion. … I think ultimately they made the right decision, although I think the judgment about their decision-making process has been a little harsh. I think there is a point in time when a marathon would have been a spectacular rallying event for the city. That time is clearly not when you have limited resources and you’re having to decide where generators go and where police go. The main thing that matters is that they got to the right decision. But we were uninvolved.”

    Tags: Media, NBA, NFL, TES, ESPN, DC, Audi
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