Football on Facebook? The Live Sports Streaming Wars
The war for the right to broadcast live sport has traditionally been black and white, between television networks. But the rise of technology and social media has seen tech giants bidding and winning their piece of the pie.
Facebook recently made a bid for the streaming rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL), with an offer of $600 million over four years. With the IPL watched by more than a billion people worldwide, the daring move was believed to be part of Facebook's aggressive push into India.
They were outbid by Star India (21st Century Fox) who offered a whopping $2.55 billion for both the television and streaming rights. While Facebook were outgunned on this deal, it's clearly a sign of things to come and a warning for mainstream media companies.
Facebook also won the right to stream some Major League Baseball games in 2017, and isn't the only tech giant eyeing the world of sports streaming.
In the US, Twitter made a deal to stream a selection of the NFL games during the 2016 season but was outbid by Amazon who paid more than four times Twitter's offer.
Amazon again shocked sleepy TV giant Sky UK, securing the streaming rights of the ATP Tennis for the next five years. And with Sky UK’s current rights to the Premier League expiring at the end of 2017, Facebook and Google are believed to have lucrative bids at the ready.
One of the biggest shocks was the takeover of the Premier League streaming and broadcasting rights in Australia. In 2015, Optus was the surprise entrant to the scene, outbidding Fox Sports to secure all rights to the league. Both the broadcasting and streaming rights are locked in to Optus and their customers until 2019.
The rise of the streaming wars has been steady with giants like Netflix and Stan taking on television networks for rights to exclusive programs. Streaming has risen in popularity as more and more as technology improves, the rise of mobile and viewing habits change.
And with the rise of OTT (Over The Top) TV devices, streaming straight to your television is easier than ever, with the help of devices like Apple TV and Telstra T-Box.
Streaming is still an emerging field and does not reach television's full demographic, so it is unlikely that sporting codes will hand over full broadcast rights any time soon.
But as codes and leagues look to growing their audience and revenue, offers from the major tech companies are becoming too good to refuse and at the very least mainstream broadcasters will be forced to give up a piece of the pie.
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