The sports-media landscape is changing rapidly. As consumers continue to move away from traditional television, sports leagues, their broadcast partner, and their advertising partners need to find creative ways to stay in front of the consumer.
And the screen of choice isn’t the only moving part in this sports-media revolution. Technologies like virtual reality, immersive video, and 360 video are changing consumers’ expectations in how content is presented.
Perhaps no entity has felt the effects of this shift more than ESPN.
Last month, the channel laid off 100 employees, including some highly recognizable on-air talent. For years, the network benefited from being included in every package cable companies offered, forcing those who never watched to still pay over $9 a month as a part of their cable bill.
Speaking at Ignition a few years ago, IAC chairman Barry Diller saw where the future was headed. “I think the future of television is more fragmentation,” Diller said. “The bundle has no more elasticity in it.”
With viewers now cutting cable from their budgets and opting for more specialized digital options — either on demand or streaming — networks like ESPN are losing the dormant subscription dollars they have counted on for so long.
To combat this, ESPN has focused in on digital, ramping up content on the WatchESPN app and ESPN 3, ESPN’s digital-only network.
Other networks, like the UK’s BT Sport network, have chosen to team up with digital channels to simulcast sporting events online. For the second straight year, BT Sport will simulcast the UEFA Champions League and Europa League Finals on YouTube for free.
Other sports leagues have found success simulcasting their games digitally, with Twitter streaming 10 “Thursday Night Football” games in 2016. But Twitter won’t be streaming these games again in 2017, as Amazon won the rights for $50 million.
On top of being broadcast on YouTube, this year both soccer championships will be available both in 4K ultra-high definition and in virtual reality, allowing users to watch a 360-degree view or select the view angle.
At Ignition 2016, Brad Allen, executive chairman at NextVR, talked about how virtual reality was changing the viewing experience with sports. VR could allow you to watch a game at your house with your friend who’s at his house.
“We’re talking each other, and it’s like we’re there courtside watching the game,” Allen said. “That’s where it’s going.”
These subjects are expected to be discussed in depth again at this year’s Ignition conference. If the digital disruption that is overhauling the media industry affects your job, this is an event you can’t afford to miss.
To learn more about the future of media, be sure to attend Business Insider’s IGNITION 2017!
We’re rolling out the speaker lineup over the coming months, and you won’t want to miss it. Business Insider IGNITION 2017 will take place November 29-30 at the Time Warner Center in New York City. Right now we’re offering extra-early-bird tickets that will save you $1,000 — don’t miss out.