Fox Sports is relaunching its over-the-top service with its soccer and rugby programming in the next two weeks and has hired Italy-based media and technology company Deltatre to operate it.
The broadcaster will rebrand its seven-year-old Fox Soccer 2Go streaming service into something believed to be called Fox Soccer Match Pass, a 24/7 over-the-top service with more than 150 rugby and soccer games per month that initially will be available to consumers for free. After about a month, Fox will charge a subscription that is expected to be similar to the $20 per month Fox charges for Fox Soccer 2Go. It’s expected that current Fox Soccer 2Go subscribers will be converted to the relaunched service. It’s not clear how the relaunch of this OTT service will affect the premium digital channel, Fox Soccer Plus.
While the service will not be Fox Sports’ first direct-to-consumer, over-the-top offering, its interactive features will put the broadcaster in the middle of one of the hottest trends in sports media, which is going direct-to-consumer. ESPN has said that it will launch an ESPN-branded over-the-top service later this year through BAMTech.
Fox executives declined to comment.
As pay-TV distributors continue to shed subscribers, media companies such as 21st Century Fox and Disney increasingly are looking into ways to offer their programming directly to consumers. Over-the-top streams, which bypass distributors, have become the most popular way to approach consumers.
Deltatre will handle the service’s technology, including designing and powering applications for mobile, tablets, desktop and connected TVs like Apple TV and Roku. Owned by George Pyne’s Bruin Sports Capital, Deltatre has targeted the U.S. market for expansion, even though the market is crowded with companies such as BAMTech, NBC’s Playmaker Media and Turner’s iStreamPlanet.
Fox Sports marks Deltatre’s first U.S.-based deal since it hired Claude London as president of Deltatre Americas last month.
“The Fox Sports deal hopefully is a signal to big leagues and big broadcasters that we’re here to help deliver an amazing sports consumption experience for their fans,” London said.
Live games will have a similar look and feel to traditional soccer production, but it’s the game replays where Deltatre’s technology will be used, with enhanced statistics, data and visual overlays.
“We will have full synchronization in real time of data and video,” London said. “If you’re watching in the 20th minute and you’re trying to figure out how many passes Cristiano Ronaldo has made, you’ll get that in real time. If you fast forward 20 minutes later, you’ll get the stats again with storytelling around them.”