Eleven Sports, a streaming service that aimed to become the "Netflix of sport," is "at risk of closure after only four months," following its failure to secure distribution via "established" pay-TV operators and "amid concern over mounting losses," according to Christopher Williams of the London TELEGRAPH. Eleven Sports is reportedly "considering pulling the plug" on its U.K. operation after UFC "triggered an exit clause on its exclusive deal," which was due to begin in January. Crisis talks with other rights holders "are ongoing in hope that part of the business can be salvaged." The UFC deal, signed in September, required Eleven Sports to "guarantee widespread distribution via established pay-TV operators such as Sky, Virgin Media and BT, as well as its own streaming apps." However, talks with Virgin Media "collapsed last month when the cable operator refused Eleven Sports’ demands on pricing." Meanwhile, Sky and BT, which both spend heavily on sports rights for their own channels, "have been taking a wait-and-see approach to their new challenger and have not entered detailed dialogue about distributing its coverage." League Championship side Leeds United Owner Andrea Radrizzani controls Eleven Sports. An Eleven Sports spokesperson said, "Without carriage agreements with the existing platforms, alongside the challenges posed by rampant piracy, the current market dynamics in the U.K. and Ireland are very hostile for new entrants." By shutting its domestic business, Eleven Sport "could preserve its finances for its business in other countries, which are more mature and successful." The company, based in London, "operates in Italy, Poland and Portugal, among others" (TELEGRAPH, 12/12).
Premier League side Southampton, in collaboration with its official partner TLCBet, created 18 videos titled "Journey to The West" to woo Chinese fans, according to Taruka Srivastav of THE DRUM. The club used two "Chinese influencers" who traveled from Beijing to Southampton alongside the club's filming crew and staff members and created branded content for TLCBet "after interacting with local fans they met on the way." The crew was on the road for 14 days, beginning from the Trans-Siberian Railway, which took six days in total. They then traveled across Russia, Germany, Holland, France, and England, "culminating in Southampton’s home stadium," St. Mary’s, for a home match against Newcastle United. Chinese agency Mailman worked with Southampton and TLCBet throughout the trip. The videos have garnered more than 68 million impressions and 4 million video views across Chinese social media platform Weibo, WeChat and football app Dongqiudi (DQD). Southampton Commercial Dir David Thomas said, "We worked very hard to ensure that we created engaging and interesting content that would resonate well within the Chinese audience" (THE DRUM, 12/11).
Google announced that its top trending topic in the U.S. and worldwide in '18 was "World Cup." In Google parlance, "top trending" means it had the highest spike in traffic over a certain period of time this year compared to last year (CNET, 12/12).
FloSports announced a partnership with rights distributor Sportradar to provide live and on-demand coverage of the men's and women's European Volleyball Confederation (CEV) Champions League, Italy's Serie A women's volleyball league and the Montreux Volley Masters exclusively on FloVolleyball.tv to audiences in the U.S. and Canada. FloVolleyball will air the events through '20 (FloSports).
NSport+ and Eleven Sports will reportedly broadcast 64 races of the motorcycle speedway PGE Ekstraliga in '19. The league will start on April 5 and the finals will take place on Sept. 22 (TELECOMPAPER, 12/12).