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Volume 25 No. 151
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Experts Try To Predict Where Media Will Go In Next Generation

Yahoo's Sarah Crennan said user control is one thing the company has focused on for the NFL experience

The opening panel of SBJ/SBD’s NeuLion Sports Media & Technology conference today in N.Y. saw panelists address myriad issues around what the next generation of media will look like. Esports, streaming, gambling, optionality and experimentation were big themes. Right off the bat, Facebook Head of Global Live Sports Programming Peter Hutton addressed his company’s strategy, and how sports can help the world’s largest social media platform. Hutton: “There are so many opportunities across not just Facebook, but Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus. The real challenge is to prioritize, because there are so many different things that the sports industry can benefit from across that range of platforms.” Facebook has already signed a few streaming rights deals, and Hutton said all the major social media giants are in a stage of “experimentation,” and the key for his company is “looking at different models in different markets.” Hutton: “You look at the markets that have big mobile penetration, that have strong broadband. You test different things in those markets. Some of them are premium rights. The Copa Libertadores in South America is a huge deal. La Liga in India is an interesting experiment. It’s a market the Spanish league wanted to push into.”

LEARNING FROM EXPERIENCE: Turner Sports COO Matt Hong said his company's move to put a heavy dose of UEFA Champions League soccer on the new B/R Live platform was driven by high levels of young Americans consuming European soccer. Hong said of the B/R Live business model, “It comes from some of the work we do around the NBA. For a few years now, we’ve had multiple prices for NBA League Pass. You can do an all-you-can-eat subscription. A team subscription. And a couple of years ago we rolled out a single team pay-per-view, which has been successful. So that informed our decision to offer something similar for Champions League matches.”

THE NEXT LEVEL: Genius Sports Special Counsel Bill Squadron said the next step, where streaming is not considered an “experiment,” will be “evolutionary rather than dramatic.” He used the example of Fox in the ‘90s with the NHL and NFL rights to drive a larger agenda. Squadron also mentioned that fans could be enticed by something like offering the final innings if Clayton Kershaw is throwing a no-hitter.

I WANT IT MY WAY: Hutton and Yahoo Sports Head of Content Sarah Crennan made solid points about the importance of customization for fans. Crennan: “One of the things we really focused on for our NFL experience is giving the user control. That’s a big and important theme. One of the ways we’ve addressed that is through a range of alert settings. A user can control when they’re driven to tune into the live experience.” She also said that the mobile ad experience will need to change. Crennan: “You always have to start with the consumer, and when you get a 30-second pre-roll, it’s terrible. Even 15 seconds is pretty terrible. We have to find the middle ground.” Hutton noted it is very easy to get it wrong on the ad formats. He said the way broadcast works “clearly isn’t” the way digital should work. Hong also mentioned that customization will be important as sports gambling evolves.

HEAT CHECK: Courtside Ventures Partner Deepen Parikh said the monetization of esports is an “area that no one has really figured out.” Parikh: “A lot of people are trying to do it. Big brands just haven’t come to the table yet.”