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Volume 6 No. 211

Media

While "the threat posed to traditional broadcasters by tech giants including Facebook and Amazon is very real," Netflix will not be entering the bidding for live Premier League broadcasting rights, according to Ed Malyon of the London INDEPENDENT. The tender for the '19-22 Premier League rights will go out this month, and "with a number of tech companies boasting deep pockets and a desire to move into live sports, there is some fear at traditional broadcasters that a new bidder could come on the scene and blow them out of the water" for the increased package that will now see 190 games being shown live. Netflix will not be among those companies, however, with the U.S. streaming service "focusing its sports operation on original programming rather than live events." A Netflix exec said, "We want to provide the best video storytelling across all genres, but it won't encompass live sports broadcasting." Facebook, however, is "considered a threat" after signaling its intent to "crash the market on live sports." It made a $600M bid to broadcast the Indian Premier League earlier this year and has made no secret of its "desire to enter the marketplace." Facebook said, "Sports are inherently social, with the power to build and connect communities around the world. This aligns closely with our mission, and we feel Facebook is a natural home for sports content, including live games" (INDEPENDENT, 12/6).

CONTENT BATTLEGROUND: BROADBAND TV NEWS' Robert Briel reported Juniper Research identified '18 as the year in which OTT players including Amazon and Facebook "turn sporting events into the next content battleground by bidding for (and winning) key packages in major rights auctions," including those for the EPL. The company argued that Amazon is "likely to be the biggest winner here." Not only would it gain revenues from new Amazon Prime customers "joining mainly for the football," but also revenues derived from retail sales by those customers via the Prime channel (BROADBAND TV NEWS, 12/6).

Channel 5 will become the first terrestrial broadcaster to show a top-flight English league match by televising Premiership Rugby side Harlequins’ match against Northampton Saints at Twickenham on Dec. 30, according to Gavin Mairs of the London TELEGRAPH. Channel 5 signed a four-year deal, understood to be worth more than £1M ($1.3M), to show five live games per season. A Premiership spokesperson said, "This is a landmark day in the history of Premiership Rugby, taking the game to new audiences and showcasing the league at one of the most famous stadiums in the world." While the BBC used to broadcast live matches in the Heineken Cup before the tournament organizers sold the rights to Sky Sports in '03, "this will be the first time that top-flight English league matches have been shown live on terrestrial television." Under the new contract, agreed after a competitive bidding process, Channel 5 will "simulcast" a total of five live games with BT Sport, which will continue to broadcast up to 80 live Premiership games per season. The new deal "does not impact on the existing contract with BT Sport," which is understood to be "happy to share" some of the broadcasting of live games to increase the profile of the tournament (TELEGRAPH, 12/5).