Accessing sport media through subscriptions isn’t a wholly new phenomenon. Paying for TV packages, whether that’s the good old days of Setanta Sports (remember them?!) alongside the omnipresent Sky Sports, as well as club-specific TV channels, have made the likes of the Premier League the powerhouse we know it to be today.
Digital Media and broadcasting
The emergence of digital in the past decade, has caused changes in the way audiences consume media. Forcing right holders to reinvent the way their product is delivered. Sky left no stone unturned. Creating an entirely new streaming platform, NOW TV. Which provides a mobile app and website for users to subscribe to TV, film and sports packages. Made up of anything and everything that Sky had the rights to broadcast.
Giving users access to sports content with subscription models in the digital sphere can help to offer a more immersive experience. In 2013, BT Sport entered the market as Sky’s main competitor in the UK by acquiring a portion of Premier League rights. Eventually becoming the sole UK broadcaster of the UEFA Champions League. As the platform has grown, it has incorporated interactive features. Allowing users to change camera angles and even get alerts to switch to watch a goal in another match.
These changes in the way we consume sport media aren’t limited to broadcasting, either. The Athletic expanded into the UK back in 2019, poaching the best sports writers from a variety of publications. To this day, The Sun football writer Neil Custis seemingly can’t post a tweet without someone trolling him about being overlooked by The Athletic. After having been highly vocal about his opposition to them at the time.
Despite many initial doubters, the success of The Athletic can’t be denied. We’re always adamant that content is king. Along with a wealth of cutting edge sports articles and podcasts all in one place, combined with enticing sign-up offers, the platform has pioneered in what was a disjointed and financially strained sector of journalism.
The future of sport media subscriptions
Financial issues are likely to shape how sport is packaged in broadcast media going forward too. Rights holders are increasingly haemorrhaging income as a result of illegal streaming. While alternatives have been proposed such as season ticket-style subscriptions for specific teams, the industry is yet to find a solution.
It’s become apparent that the reasoning behind BT acquiring elite football rights in the first place was purely to bring in customers to its broadband offering. The same has been speculated about Amazon’s Prime Video. Whose recent foray into Premier League coverage being the only flagship offering on its pre-existing streaming service in the UK.
BT Sport is set to sell its TV rights, and while Discovery is still in the running, the rights look most likely to be bought by the newest kid on the block when it comes to sport subscription services, DAZN. As we’ve spoken about in many of our blogs DAZN is on the rise. With sky, Premier League and EFL deals imminent, it won’t be long until DAZN is the major sports broadcaster in the UK.
The word ‘transition’ has become something of a buzzword in sport recently. Particularly in football, but it’s something that very much applies to the current state of sport media. There seems to be a necessity and a willingness to evolve. Yet we’re still waiting to land on a platform that will shape how we move forward. There are many contenders but as of now Sky Sports and BT are still at the top. One thing is for sure, the appetite for live sport isn’t slowing down. The industry heads will be exploring a variety of avenues to ensure they’re not left behind.