Sport : from all exclusive to all inclusive

This is the end of the cable golden age for sport !

That was paradize. 4 decades that started in the early eighties. More money for rights holders, amazing editorial treatement from dedicated channels, storytelling all year long to please fans and cash flow machine for cable operators. But that’s over.

Welcome to the digital world where the consummer gets what he wants, whenever he wants and how he wants. Sport is no exception.

Consequences are brutal.

The big networks are fighting against churn by shifting from a linear proposition to a digital platform offer, still acting as a pusblishers but more and more as aggregators.

Cost cutting is also part of the process. Tier 2 events are hurt very hard being kicked-off of the model as broadcasters do prioritize premium properties.

Live becomes the exception in the way fans do consume sport. They are so much overwhelmed by content propositions that they end up being much more selective. Fans keeps on watching the unmissable peak live moments but snack around the rest of the time.

If you don’t take that structural trend into consideration when elaborating your distributing content model, you can be in trouble. Still work in progress for many sport organizations.

2 key learnings :

Live feeds fans, near-live and storytelling grab new ones.

Paywall to monetize, free access on social to grow the fan base

The Industry is pivoting from a rigid exclusive model where rights holders were delegating distribution and promotion to their broadcasting partners to a fluid ecosystem where Leagues and Federations will play an active part as a publishers and media. From all exclusive to all inclusive !

Old model : Rights holders sell their rights through very predetermined tenders. Passive and legal driven mode.

New model : Rights holders are in charge of value creation for their product like in any other Industry. They need to shape the new digital ecosystem in a direct to fans mode and place the cursor at the right place between monetization and recrutment. Active and business driven mode.

We will be less and less in a client-supplier relationship but more in a revenue/risk sharing approach.

The Industry is pivoting from a rigid exclusive model... to a fluid ecosystem. If we were to give the perfect illustration of such a pivot, it would be the Formula 1 visibilty strategy change from Ecclestone to Liberty Media.

In Bernie’s time it was all about full exclusivity behind paywalls leading slowly to a loss of impact and struggle to renew the fan base. With liberty media it’s an adjusted hybrid model between free to air and paywall for races, between live and storytelling (Drive to Survive), between liberated social networks and engaged broadcasting partners. The result is spectacular especially in the US and for the youngest generation.

It’s a such massive change for rights-holders :

-a business model shift with short term revenues drop for most of them amplified by the pandemic.

  • a management and cultural transition to start operating and monitoring a daily content and distribution strategy. Basically from the passenger’s seat to the driver’s seat !

In&OutStories was born 3 years ago with that business transformation in mind. Today, when I am asked about our approach & methodology, I like to compare our mission with an architecture firm.

We do help rights holders to conceive and build a new ecosystem where content can live and circulate to match with new consumption modes. A new « home of » ! The secret is of course to involve from day one broadcasters, platforms and sponsors. The goal is not to become independant from the big stakeholders but essential to them in a different way.

As a matter of fact rights holders digital offers must be operational as quickly as possible to be embedded and available within front line digital platform propositions. No doubt that aggregation will accelerate in the next 18 months. So let's be ready !

Helping Sport Organizations to keep the control of their assets, even through turbulences, to deliver the right content mix and a more engaging live narrative, and last but not least, to find the good balance between monetization and recrutment is what In&OutStories is all about.

Arnaud Simon In&OutStories Président

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