NBA, MLB Not Among Properties Expected To Appear On New Turner OTT Service At Outset
Turner President David Levy said that viewers should "not expect any games from the other sports for which it owns the rights," such as the NBA or MLB, to appear on its new OTT sports service at the outset, according to Kevin Draper of the N.Y. TIMES. Turner unveiled its OTT plans Thursday when formally announcing its deal with UEFA, and Levy said, "This isn’t about taking current rights and putting them on this platform. This is a new platform, which is untethered to our existing businesses." Draper notes when Turner begins carrying the UEFA Champions and Europa League matches in the fall of '18, less than 20% of the "hundreds of games in the two tournaments will be broadcast on Turner’s linear television channels; the rest will form the backbone of the new streaming service." Turner is "entering what is becoming a quickly crowded marketplace." Disney Chair & CEO Bob Iger said that ESPN’s new digital streaming service, scheduled to begin in early '18, will "feature more than 10,000 events in its first year." That includes MLB and NHL games and Grand Slam tennis matches -- a "much deeper selection than Turner can offer." Draper notes it "remains to be seen how many sports fans will be interested in these offerings." Could sports fans be willing to "subscribe to both cable and streaming services, or will they be content with the biggest ones and decline to pay extra to be able to see everything?" Levy said, "It might be both." He added, "These aren’t going to be C- and D-league games. This is the Champions League. These are all A’s" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/18).
CUPBOARD IS BARE: AD AGE's Anthony Crupi wrote Turner's deal with UEFA and the launch of its OTT service has "effectively cleaned out the sports-media rights cupboard in the bargain." For networks "looking to kick-start an OTT sports service, niche offerings are likely to be the default option in the near term" as available rights packages are "few and far between." The only "high-end packages that are set to expire" between now and '19 are the Verizon IndyCar Series, which airs on ABC and NBCSN; Fox' UFC package; and the CBS/Turner deal for the PGA Championship (ADAGE.com, 8/17).