MLB offers fans a free weekly (Tuesday evenings) out-of-market virtual reality broadcast, powered by Intel (INTC) True VR. Using the Intel True VR App fans can control the broadcast POV, get access to postgame highlights and on demand replays of each game. To watch the VR steams, you’ll need a Samsung (KRX: 005930) phone, a Gear VR headset and to download the VR app from the Oculus (FB) app store. Curiosity is driving viewers for short windows of time, but the challenge ahead for MLB is figuring out how to keep that viewer tuned in for a 3-hour game.
Howie Long-Short: When Intel was looking for a VR partner, they were looking for 3 things. Defensible IP, scalability and the ability to stream its feed into a two-dimensional screen as well as to head-mounted goggles. It found its match in Voke VR. Intel lead their $12.5 million Series A round in March ’16, before acquiring the company in November 2016.
Fan Marino: True VR offers views down the first base line, from the right field corner and behind home plate, but the most popular views thus far have been the dugout views. That doesn’t surprise me. It’s a chance for fans to get “behind the scenes”, without the content being scrubbed first (i.e. Hard Knocks).
Virtual Reality Reaches The Big Leagues With Intel
Facebook (FB) submitted a 5-year $610 million bid for the rights to stream the India Premier League. While Rupert Murdoch’s Star India (FOXA) ultimately won the bidding process, with a $2.55 billion bid (to broadcast and stream), it’s Mark Zuckerberg’s most aggressive offer for live sports content to date. Facebook was the only Silicon Valley company to place a bid on the two-month long tournament, that draws 185 million worldwide.
Howie Long-Short: NFL streaming rights have always gone to a traditional phone company. That may change in 2019 though, as companies who wish to distribute media on mobile devices are likely to get into the bidding process. That’s great news for NFL team owners, who are currently receiving $1 billion over 4 years from Verizon.
Fan Marino: 185.7 million people watched the first 3 matches of the IPL season, roughly 8.5x the audience the Patriots/Chiefs season opener did last Thursday night. No wonder Facebook wanted that property!
Facebook bid $610 million for the rights to stream Indian cricket matches
Facebook (FB) has agreed to a partnership with Barstool Sports that will give Watch, FB’s new video platform, original sports programming content. “The Barstool Tailgate Show” will cover college football storylines and comedic news from a different campus each week, with shows airing on Facebook Live prior to the Saturday night ABC/ESPN (DIS) primetime game. Barstool Founder Dave Portney and former Colts Punter and Barstool personality Pat McAfee, will host the show. Financial details of the deal were not released, but Facebook is investing in the production of the show and would be the ones to secure future and benefit from corporate sponsors.
Howie Long-Short: Barstool had a live show Super Bowl week on Comedy Central (VIAB). The show had 310K viewers and beat the Daily Show by 7% in the 18-34 male demo, on Monday January 30th (their first show). That is where the good news ended though, by Thursday, February 3rd, the audience had fallen to 217K viewers, no better than the worst rated Futurama rerun that the network ran the week prior.
Fan Marino: Watch is quickly scooping up non-traditional sports content that Millennials eat up (see: “Ball in the Family”). It’s a smart strategy for a company that wants to be in the sports streaming business, isn’t getting NFL games (existing deals run through 2022) or NBA games (existing deals run through 2025) anytime soon, and needs to put out original content to draw video advertising dollars that will drive future revenue growth. What kind of Stoolie is on Facebook at 7:30p on Saturday night though?
Facebook (FB) has hired Bunim/Murray Productions (VIAB), the company behind “The Real World” and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”, to create a new reality series for their redesigned Watch video tab. The show entitled “Ball in the Family”, will focus on LaVar Ball, the father of Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, as he grooms his children for the NBA, builds his Big Baller Brand and helps his wife Tina recover from a stroke. The first 2 episodes are now available, with new episodes being released on Sunday’s at 10p, starting September 10th. Facebook is developing original content, so it can draw video advertising dollars that will drive future revenue growth.
Howie Long-Short: Facebook is coming for GOOGL’s YouTube. The company is offering to pay production costs, license and outright buy content from creators; while at least in some cases, guaranteeing ad revenue to publishers. Expect a lot of well-produced, high quality, in-demand content from the social network moving forward.
Fan Marino: LaVar recently announced that sale of the LaMelo BBB sneaker will take precedence over his NCAA eligibility. Lonzo better be a superstar or this whole house of cards is about to come tumbling down.
Facebook Lands Lonzo Ball and Basketball Family for Reality Show
Instagram (FB) has announced a new feature, to be introduced globally within the next few months, that is going to enhance sports broadcasts for fans. Tentatively known as “live with”, the newly developed feature will give broadcasters the ability to provide a viewer with the option to join the broadcast, as a co-host, in a split screen fashion. Real world applications for the technology include the ability to conduct remote interviews, to provide unique camera angle/view options and to connect players with fans/influencers.
How Instagram’s New “Live With” Feature Can Work For Sports Teams
Howie Long Short: Networks can save millions of dollars/year by broadcasting games remotely. Is this the first step to fan acceptance?
Fan Marino: Which broadcast network is going to be progressive enough to “live with” the Bills Mafia during their NFL pregame show?
Exclusive television network broadcast rights deals have been the growing source of income for pro sports leagues for the last several decades. TV networks have tripped over themselves to pay out lucrative, long-term contracts to sports leagues, in order to lock up valuable content it can resell to advertisers. League execs have long assumed that tech giants like Amazon (AMZN), Facebook (FB) and YouTube (GOOGL) would be eager to bid on future contracts in an effort to stream content. While that may still be the case, it likely won’t be in the same form of the existing TV contracts and as a result, a decline in revenues may be coming. Mark Zuckerberg has indicated that FB could be interested in streaming select pro sports, but the long-term goal would not be to pay for content, but to engage in a revenue-share model.
Technology Titans Won’t Splurge to Save Sports
Howie Long-Short: Sports leagues will follow the money. It could be a while before tech firms can outbid traditional media for top sports rights, other than carving out digital rights.
Fan Marino: If Zuckerberg can get off paying Bieber on a rev-share model, he can certainly convince pro sports leagues, with few viable alternative options, to sign off.
Turner Broadcasting (TWX) owned Bleacher Report, has hired veteran publisher Howard Mittman (GQ, Golf Digest), as Chief Revenue Officer and as its first Chief Marketing Officer. The digital only sports media company, which reaches 250 Million people monthly, 75% of which are under the age of 34, is looking to position itself as a viable alternative to Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOGL), for marketers looking to reach a younger demographic. The company plans to produce higher quality video and written content, while expanding its focus into fashion and music.
Bleacher Report Hires Marketing Chief in Bid to Take On Facebook
Howie Long-Short opines: Sorry, but Bleacher is no viable alternative to Facebook for advertisers. Still, probably a good hire for Bleacher/ Time Warner.
Fan Marino says: I’m thankful that someone wants to continue generating quality written content. It’s unprofessional to be playing video clips during corporate meetings.
Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR) and Snap Inc. (SNAP) are said to be among the companies offering 21st Century Fox (FOXA) tens of millions of dollars, for the rights to stream video highlights from the 2018 World Cup. The recent demand for premium video content, from social media companies, provides Fox with a significant new source of revenue and means to promote its television coverage. Fox paid $400 Million for the exclusive rights to air games from the next 3 World Cups (2018, 2022 & 2026), on broadcast and cable TV, in the U.S.
Facebook, Twitter Are Said to Seek World Cup Clips From Fox
Howie Long-Short opines: SNAP is looking for another negative-margin revenue line? I’m not sure why FOX would want to empower future competitors.
Fan Marino says: You have to hope Twitter wins the bidding war. As a real-time news source, it’s the only logical place for game highlights. Your modern day SportsCenter.
Nike (NKE) CEO Mark Parker announced a partnership with Instagram (FB), enabling the company to sell products “seamlessly” within the photo sharing app. It’s the second major partnership (AMZN) recently announced by Nike, as the company looks to increase revenues by selling directly to the consumer. Instagram, who will not be taking a cut of purchases, now enables brands to tag their products in photos and enables consumers to purchase products within the application.
Instagram and Nike Reach for Fashion’s Holy Grail
Howie Long-Short opines: Nike’s playing catch-up in the digital world. This makes sense though. After trying to defend direct channel exclusivity via stores and nike.com for years, they’re finally facing reality. Amazon cannot be ignored.
Fan Marino says: Kendall Jenner got $250,000 for a single Instagram Post. In my next life, I would like to come back as a brand influencer.
Facebook (FB) and Fox Sports, the sports network owned by 21st Century Fox (FOXA) have partnered to livestream the UEFA Champions League, Europe’s top-tier soccer tournament, on the social media platform, effective September 2017. The partnership will span more than a dozen matches between the group round and quarterfinals, including some that will be exclusive to Facebook and Fox Sports GO. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
Facebook in deal to live stream soccer with Fox Sports
Howie Long-Short opines: This smacks of desperation for Fox Sports, potentially empowering a competitor for some short-term cash. But early stage Champions League is still not exactly a top draw in the US…
Fan Marino says: Facebook has live streaming deals in place with MLB, MLS, La Liga and now Champions League. Great news if you are a cord cutter who wants to watch soccer and post viral dog trick videos.