Live sports are an essential part of any Pay-TV package, and are one of the key reasons why many haven’t yet cut the cord and gone exclusively OTT. However, if a Netflix-style sports-oriented SVoD service came along, cord-cutting could rise even more. But is such a platform viable, and if so, would it be able to survive?
Acquiring live sports rights is the biggest obstacle such a service faces. For many years, live sports have been a cornerstone of programming for many telcos and broadcasters due to their ability to attract large audiences and high ad revenues – and these companies are willing to pay premium prices to keep live sports. Snatching popular sports rights away from Pay TV broadcasters will be a challenge for any SVoD platform, but the pay-off would likely be well worth the investment.
Social media competition
There are also digital juggernauts SVoD providers would face. Social media giants Facebook and Twitter have both invested in live sports and have included sports as part of their own growth strategy. At the same time, the ever-growing Amazon Prime Video has also displayed its interest in sports, with investments in the Premier League in the UK and the NFL in the U.S. as recent demonstrations of its live sport intentions.
In the U.S., SVoD providers much content with the Disney machine due to the media giant’s ESPN+ SVoD service. Any SVoD platform would struggle to battle it out against these powerful brands, their well-established customer bases and their deep pockets.
Netflix-style sports service: will DAZN survive?
One platform vying to be an international streaming sports leader is DAZN, which since its four country launch in 2016 (in Austria, Germany, Japan and Switzerland), has expanded into another three markets (the US, Canada and Italy), and has a Spanish launch already planned for 2019. DAZN’s start has been rather low-key, acquiring many rights to a broad range of lower profile sporting events. While this may not seem like the most exciting opening, it’s a good way for DAZN to begin increasing its profile to gain some traction.
DAZN is evidence that an international sports SVoD platform is definitely a viable option in a streaming-heavy world.
Whether DAZN and any other global sports SVoD platforms can survive is a lot more complicated. Sure, these platforms could last with a broad slate of lower profile sporting events, or even as a niche service, but if these services want to really scale their businesses and become the Netflix of live sports, they need to find a way to attract the world’s biggest and most popular sports. The investment would be well worth it to encourage viewers to cut the cord.