UEFA has officially unveiled its new Over The Top (OTT) streaming platform aimed at giving viewers greater access to live and on-demand video content from a variety of competitions.
The move towards streamed content direct from sporting organisations has become a surge and UEFA’s presence at the table suggests that the old order of major broadcast deals with third parties is preparing for a significant shift.
UEFA joins the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, the English Football League and our own GAA in becoming a broadcaster itself though being careful not to threaten, yet, the major income stream that still derives from traditional broadcasters.
The UEFA service, which is named UEFA.tv, will initially provide football fans with an entertainment platform which will offer original programming based on 60 years of European football archive.
Again this is similar to GAA Now which is predominantly used for the broadcast of non-live action but which is obviously ready should the need arise to broadcast live.
GAAGo already does this, in partnership with RTÉ, in markets outside Ireland and is growing its base of viewers and subscribers year on year.
Recent weekends where only three of upwards of 16 GAA Championship matches have been shown live hints strongly at the fact that there will be increased consumer demand for access to whatever is on, at a price.
UEFA.tv will become the home of youth, women’s and futsal UEFA competitions offering them a wide live coverage in relevant markets where none presently exists.
In GAA terms that could mean an experiment in years to come with the Lory Meagher or Joe McDonagh Cups. Certainly, the next GAA media rights negotiation will be very interesting.
Finally, it will also serve to promote all of UEFA competitions by offering behind the scenes content, interviews and a wide range of additional content. All the video content is behind a free-to-view registration, and supporters will now have the opportunity to watch live UEFA competition matches even when there is no rights-holder in the territory where they are living.
The German Bundesliga will be the first national league to be represented on the European governing body’s new digital portal.
They will have a separate channel on the streaming platform with videos from the Bundesliga in addition to European competitions.
This service will be available as from the launch and will include Monday highlights of weekend matches and shows such as the “Bundesliga Special”, aligned especially to the interests of international fans.
In addition, archives of past Bundesliga matches and UEFA Champions League matches involving German teams will be available.
“The digital landscape is evolving and we need to be in a position where we can anticipate and respond to these changes,” said UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin.
“UEFA is an innovative organisation and by introducing this platform, we will be making football and our competitions more accessible to supporters around the world.”
UEFA has stressed that “UEFA.tv will not be competing with TV channels but would rather be complementary by taking advantage of the wide range of content available at UEFA, including archive footage, delayed games, magazine programmes or futsal, women’s and grassroots competitions.”
That is true for the moment and while the demand and the revenue it generates for traditional broadcasters remains strong then no one will turn down the Billion Euro offers that there are for live sports rights.
The market is changing though. It is being driven by changes in channel makeup, distribution, direct subscription and advances in technology and personalisation.
There is a tipping point that is fast approaching when the weight of those changes, added to consumer expectation, as well as willingness to pay, will see a new era. UEFA have merely recognised that and taken steps to be ready when it comes.
In the coming week’s Sport for Business will be taking an in-depth look at the world of live streaming and how it is impacting on the landscape for sport and media in Ireland.