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The Future of New Media in Old Age Sports

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Recent news about Facebook’s failed $600M cricket bid to live-stream the Indian Cricket League matches, brings forward an interesting set of questions as to the value of the web in the traditional media landscape. But before getting into that discussion, let’s take a look at how media houses traditionally pitch for sporting events.

An event is planned and various rights are then auctioned. The highest bidder with the best offer, wins. Because television has the highest reach, television rights are highly contested, though radio is not far behind. If the event has enough demand and the country allows it, it is possible for an international broadcast platform or partner to make a bid. Once the rights have been won, it is upto the broadcasting platform to generate ad revenue from the airtime.

In the recent past, mobile television providers have been part of the companies competing in the bids and in the very recent past, web platforms have also put their bid forward. The fact that Facebook’s bid was taken over by the Rupert Murdoch’s Star for broadcast plus streaming, makes the mix a real interesting one. And even though Facebook was the only Silicon Valley company to compete, this move provides insight into the ambitions of where the company sees itself. Twitter and Amazon.com have 10-game Thursday night NFL streaming packages and Verizon’s $1 billion mobile-rights deal for the NFL expires at the end of this season. Mobile platform are already in the mix and positioned to pick up streaming rights because of their coverage and reach.

But Facebook has also expanded its content span a bit towards reality shows. It was recently announced that the NFL’s Marshawn Lynch is inking a multi-million dollar deal with Facebook to do a reality show. The social media giant is paying Time Warner’s Bleacher Report millions for a show based on Lynch. The social media giant’s series platform, Watch on Facebook, was rolled out to its US audience in August 2017. Much akin Amazon and Netflix, Facebook is estimated to have plans to spend upwards of $1 billion on such productions for its Watch on Facebook (also known as Facebook Watch) platform in 2018. The Marshawn Lynch show is called No Script.

As the competition to attract eyeballs across platforms and devices continues, Facebook enters into the space of social streaming, allowing viewers to be more engaged with the content they view, while interacting with the community. The social ecosystem definitely makes sense for the demographic audience that demands instant interaction and instant result with the content. There should also be a great deal of interactivity and engagement with advertising, raising the bar to a whole new level.

What will be interesting to see is how New Media platforms compete or integrate with traditional media outlets to bring new experiences and offerings to traditional viewers.

 

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