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Volume 25 No. 61
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Streaming Options Expand As Tech Companies Look For Sports Rights

Companies that host new niche sports offerings have "almost limitless" options in today's world for streaming their events as tech powerhouses like Amazon, Facebook and YouTube are "experimenting with sports rights," according Kevin Draper of the N.Y. TIMES. Pure streaming plays "abound, with television companies like ESPN, with ESPN+, and Turner, with B/R Live, attempting to disrupt themselves." Others, like Stadium, Eleven and FloSports, "project bright futures for their well-funded start-ups as they hope to become even fractionally as profitable as ESPN." Leagues can also "opt to stream directly on social media platforms like Twitch and Twitter." ESPN Exec VP/Programming & Scheduling Burke Magnus said that "no matter how small or unpopular a league or team is, their games are probably streaming to fans somewhere." But even with an "energetic promotional campaign," streaming services and the niche sports they show "face plenty of significant challenges before they become a viable alternative to broadcast or cable television." They "need more exposure and more eyeballs." A "relatively small amount of people know these sports and services exist." Streaming services also have "yet to figure out a way to take advantage of the economics of bundling." FloSports "encompasses all of the possibilities and pitfalls of this business." Launched more than a decade ago, it "followed ESPN’s early playbook: Begin by buying rights to niche sports, and slowly work toward more mainstream ones." FloSports is "mostly known for its running and wrestling coverage." FloSports co-Founder & COO Mark Floreani said that the company has "signed more than 100 rights agreements this year already, though none is with a major sports organization." He "argued that streaming allows FloSports to show niche sports better than a traditional television channel would" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/17).