Yesterday morning’s news that LiveScore is the new exclusive media rights holder for 104 games in Ireland of the UEFA Champions League was greeted with genuine surprise across the industry.
We covered the news yesterday as our headline story and this morning we dive a little deeper into the background of the company and what it might mean for the broader picture of how we consume sport.
First, we need to look at what LiveScore is.
Appearing on The Last Word last night with Matt Coopper and Will O’Callaghan from OTB Sport we discussed whether people would be familiar with the service. Cooper said that he was not but our sense ids that he would be an outlier among sports fans who use their mobile phone to keep up to date with sporting scores from around the world.
The service claims to have 56 million active users across 200 countries around the world. In context that is over 25 per cent the number of subscribers that pay money to Netflix around the world and nobody would argue the cultural relevance of that as a streaming platform.
It grew out of a start-up providing score updates and has been a constant through the development and almost universal adoption of smartphones.
In 2017 it became part of the Gamesys Group but in 2019 it demerged in order to stand alone as part of the LiveScore Group of companies consisting of the original update app, a LiveScore bet service and a white label betting service operated on behalf of Virgin.
Its primary revenue source is online and in-app advertising. Throughout yesterday the ads running included ones for Betfair and Virgin Broadband.
The fact that rival betting companies would provide it with the bulk of its customers, even while it was operating its own online betting business is indicative of the strong position it holds in the market.
In the past twelve months, it has extended its score update service by a number of key deals with individual country rights broadcast of games from Europe’s top leagues.
In Ireland, it reached a deal with Premier Sports to stream matches from the Italian Serie A. A number of these carried Irish specific commentary from con Murphy, located in a Dublin studio alongside commentators from multiple other countries providing a similar remote style of part localised content.
That deal with Premier Sports was brokered by the Saran Media Group in Turkey with whom they are also partners in this latest venture.
That group has held the Champions league Broadcast rights in Turkey for the past three years and last month expanded by securing similar rights for Azerbaihan, Turkmenistan and a number of other former Russian Republics.
Ireland is higher profile in that it is so close to the UK market and the fact has already been raised as to whether this is a fact-finding mission to see if a play for the UK rights might be possible in years to come.
That is highly speculative with the rights in that market running to Billions while in Ireland they would only cost a fraction of that.
All the 137 games will be streamed by LiveScore though there is no indication yet of what kind of broadcast that will be other than the game itself.
Coverage across much of Europe does not tally with the UK and Irish version of studio analysis. Watching Euro 2016 games in France five years ago, the coverage stopped as the players walked into the tunnel at halftime, then there were 28 (we counted them) ads and then the coverage resumed as the second half kicked off.
In an attention-deficit world that could be the model.
There will be games on mainstream TV, or Big Box TV with RTÉ having already secured the rights to Tuesday night Games and the Final. Virgin could yet come back into the frame for Wednesday night games alongside live Score and BT Sport who will continue to show games here as well.
We will be discussing the latest moves in streaming at our next Sport for Business Conference on Streaming sport 2021 on the morning of June 24th.
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