Man City is finalizing the details of a "highly lucrative fly-on-the-wall documentary series with Amazon Prime despite opposition from Premier League rights holders," according to Charles Sale of the London DAILY MAIL. It is understood Man City is being paid more than £10M ($13.3M) for allowing Amazon "access to all areas around the club for a season" to film behind-the-scenes content for a number of programs featuring Pep Guardiola’s side. But Sky is known to have voiced its "understandable unease" at Amazon being able to buy its way into the Etihad Stadium when the sports subscription service paid more than £4B ($5.3B) for the current Premier League rights, which works out to £11M ($14.6M) a match. The Premier League has also "made it clear" it has strict regulations around matchday coverage to protect the rights of Sky and BT Sports, as well as its numerous overseas partners. The Premier League restrictions have led to Netflix -- Amazon’s rival in the sports documentary sphere -- this week signing Juventus instead for a similar project (DAILY MAIL, 10/11).
Early season viewing for the Premier League is up, "offering a potential boost to prospects for a coming auction of some of the world’s most lucrative sports rights," according to Hellier, Penty & Mayes of BLOOMBERG. Sky, with rights to most games, has drawn an average of 819,000 TV viewers per match "since the season began in August," up 8% over a year earlier, according to data compiled by Enders Analysis. BT Group brought in 692,000 per match, an increase of 9%. In contrast, the '16-17 season started with a "steep drop" and ended down 10% overall. The gains "may allay concerns" about declining audiences for Britain’s top football competition in recent seasons as owners "prepare to negotiate new rights for the U.K., seeking to increase their haul by attracting web players including Amazon." The take-up also helps Sky and BT justify paying a record £5.14B ($6.8B) together for the U.K. live rights last time, an increase of 70% and the largest in Europe for domestic rights. Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch said, "It's good in terms of viewing. This time last year it was down, so we've recovered pretty much that viewing. It's going well" (BLOOMBERG, 10/12).
With the U.S. men's national team failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Fox could "spend even more marketing dollars and heft" on the Mexican national team, "given the potential audience," according to Richard Deitsch of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. Fox owns the English-language rights to the Mexican national team in the U.S., and at the World Cup launch party last month, Fox Sports President & COO Eric Shanks said that the net "would market the Mexican national team" as its "second team during the tournament." Shanks: "We are embracing El Tri and we have since the Confederations Cup. We have the Gold Cup every two years." But the USMNT's elimination still is a "disaster for Fox Sports," and the "dollars lost will be huge." The marketing will also "likely shift to a much heavier push earlier" on int'l players such as Lionel Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo (SI, 10/11).
GUT PUNCH: AD AGE's Anthony Crupi wrote there is "no way to overstate just how crushing a blow this development is for Fox." With the tournament being held "halfway around the world in Russia, Fox was already at bit of a disadvantage." But the loss of the U.S. is "almost certain to eliminate the casual fans that help pump up the ratings" (AD AGE, 10/11).
Juventus launched an Oculus VR App on Thursday. The app gives fans the opportunity to experience a day in the life of players like goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and forward Paulo Dybala. The app's content will include on-field access to events like last year's Scudetto Trophy list and award celebration narrated by Buffon (Juventus).
ESPN and TV5 Network Inc. announced an agreement for a long-term collaboration to introduce a brand that will serve Filipino sports fans -- ESPN 5. TV5's "Sports 5" will be rebranded as "ESPN 5," encompassing all sports coverage on TV5. ESPN will also license to TV5 more than 2,500 hours of additional programming per year. The companies will join forces to produce a daily Philippine edition of "SportsCenter" to air on TV5. ESPN 5 and the "SportsCenter Philippine Edition" will air on TV5's free-to-air channels -- TV5 and Aksyon 41 (ESPN).
Sky COO Andrew Griffith "praised the work of the Premier League" in combating online piracy. He said, "This is something we take incredibly seriously, but more importantly the Premier League take incredibly seriously and you see a number of initiatives this season including successfully obtaining a blocking injunction to go against streams at the ISP level. That's having a good effect" (BROADBAND TV NEWS, 10/12).
FIBA will stream all Division A games of the U16 Women's Asian Cup 2017 on its social media channels. The tournament begins in Bengaluru, India, on Oct. 22 (FIBA).