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Volume 6 No. 197


Turner Sports will launch an OTT sports service next fall with UEFA Champions League and Europa League games. Turner was expected to make an official announcement on its OTT plans on Thursday as part of a larger formal confirmation of its three-year, $60M English-language rights deal to carry games from the two leagues in the U.S. through '20-21. SportsBusiness Journal first wrote about Turner’s UEFA rights deal in February. Univision picked up the Spanish-language rights over three years for around $35M per year. "This is untethered content rights that aren't attached to any of our existing brands," said Turner President David Levy. "It is an opportunity for us to think about how we keep the current ecosystem healthy with a strong premium video content, build out Bleacher Report with tremendous video content and then start a new OTT business. As consumers have choices and may not subscribe to cable, they'll still have the opportunity to watch this sport and many other sports when they want and where they want." Turner outbid BAMTech, NBC Sports and Fox Sports for the UEFA rights. Combined with Univision's bid, UEFA is making close to $100M annually from the U.S. market, double its previous deal with Fox. Levy said the financials work for Turner, especially given that it has rights across all platforms. "We don't go into any businesses without feeling that there's a profitability that is going to happen within the existing contract," he said. "Between the portfolio of an over-the-top product, Bleacher Report and our linear channels, we will be able to afford it."

NO NAME, PRICE YET: The OTT service does not have a name, price point, or other programming yet, according to Turner Sports President Lenny Daniels. "But we're open for business," he said. Levy said Turner would target premium content like UEFA, leagues and properties with passionate followings, as well as those that may only have access to TV windows at odd times. "This will provide opportunity for sports that don't have a big enough presence but have unique, niche fan bases that can now launch different products with us," he said. "This is really going to be a unique proposition for the consumer, but also for leagues that don't have the time periods or exposure that they needed." The UEFA matches work for Turner, since games are played in daytime, mid-week time periods, when people are at school or work and more likely to use a streaming platform. As part of the deal, Turner will produce more than 340 games for OTT and TV starting with the '18-19 season, with Bleacher Report serving as a portal to the OTT service, simulcasting some games. One of Turner’s channels, most likely truTV, will carry four live Champions League games per week through the Group Stage (Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 1:00pm and 3:00pm ET) and two games per week during the Knockout Phase (Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 3:00pm). All other matches will be available via OTT. The Champions League semis and finals will move to TBS or TNT. UEFA Europa League matches will be available via OTT, with the final televised on TBS or TNT. Turner also committed to carry the UEFA Super Cup on TBS or TNT. In addition to non-exclusive live games, Bleacher Report will have shoulder programming, ancillary programming and video clips that it will use on its site and social platforms.

A CROWDED FIELD: Turner joins other sports networks in launching OTT services. CBS and ESPN earlier this month announced plans for sports-centered OTT services that will launch next year; NBC Sports launched a Premier League Pass OTT service this month; and Fox Sports is relaunching its Fox Soccer 2Go OTT service into Fox Soccer Match Pass. Turner already operates non-sports OTT services FilmStruck and Boomerang and believes that a sports-focused one will be successful, using UEFA games as an anchor. "This isn't like we're putting a second-tier sports property on OTT," Levy said. "This is UEFA's Champions League and Europa. That's the foundation that we can build all of this around."

Barcelona-based athletes and "others from around Spain sent their condolences" after a terrorist attack on Thursday left 13 people dead and more than 50 injured, according to Jeremy Woo of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. A "van crashed into a crowded area and caused mass chaos in an incident that was quickly deemed an act of terror." Barcelona players past and present, "prominent clubs and others" from around the football world weighed in on social media (SI, 8/17).

MINUTE'S SILENCE: reported Barcelona "will wear black armbands" for its match at the Camp Nou on Sunday following the attack. The club will also hold a minute's silence before its league opener against Real Betis, "as will all the teams in La Liga this weekend." Barcelona said in a statement, "FC Barcelona wants to express its profound sorrow and utter disgust at the terrorist attack that has hit the heart of our city, la Rambla de Barcelona. The Club wishes to send our support and thoughts to the victims, their families and friends as well as the people of Barcelona and its visitors" (, 8/17).

The Premier League's new campaign against the illegal streaming of matches "led to 600 streams being blocked on the opening weekend of the season and more than 30,000 clips removed from websites," according to Martyn Ziegler of the LONDON TIMES. The "superblock" was launched after the league won a High Court ruling that "obliges internet service providers to block the servers that host the illegal streams." The campaign is also "targeting clips of goals and action posted by users on social media sites," 30,000 of which were removed last weekend including 20,000 from YouTube. Internet users trying to visit streaming sites, such as Spanish-based rojadirecta, are now redirected to a page with the message: "Access to websites listed on this page has been blocked pursuant to orders of the High Court." Website TorrentFreak reported that the "superblock" led to 5,000 server IP addresses being blocked last weekend. It said, "As soon as the matches began on Saturday, issues were reported at several of the more prominent IPTV providers" (LONDON TIMES, 8/17).

Nielsen announced on Thursday the launch of Nielsen ESports, a new vertical devoted to measuring sponsorship value in the emerging world of competitive video gaming. The business is centered on two product developments: New int'l viewer data in the U.K., France, Germany, China, South Korea and Japan, along with Esports 24, a database of esports events that can help customers quantify return on investment with standardized measurements. "Clients are coming to us with these questions," said Nielsen Games Dir of Custom Research Nicole Pike, who will co-lead the new vertical along with Stephen Master, the nanaging director of Nielsen Sports North America. Sponsorship value in esports is much more difficult to measure than traditional sports in several ways, Master said, because exclusive media rights are still rare, meaning that many events are viewed on a wide variety of streaming and linear channels. Also, the int'l nature of the fan base is harder to measure, and esports tournaments have a rich post-live value because esports players will re-distribute clips from their matches on their own streams. Master said the division has exceeded revenue generation expectations. Nielsen has convened an advisory board of esports industry leaders, including from ESL, ESPN, Facebook, Activision Blizzard, Turner, Twitch and others.

Real Madrid's 3-1 win over Barcelona at Camp Nou on Wednesday drew a combined average audience of 7.1 million viewers. Mediaset-owned Telecinco's audience for the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup was 6.5 million viewers, which translated to a market share of 49.8% -- an increase of 205,000 viewers and three percentage points. Catalan broadcaster TV3 also carried Wednesday's game and drew 563,000 viewers (AS, 8/17).

Eleven Sports secured rights to Int'l Surfing Association events in '17 in Belgium, Luxembourg, Singapore, Taiwan and the U.S. (Eleven Sports).