Australian Telco and ISP Optus has snatched the exclusive Australian EPL broadcast rights from traditional Aussie Pay TV giant Foxtel. What will this mean for the future of live sports coverage in Australia? How is Optus going to pull this off?
If you want to read the news on this deal have a look at this news item from abc.net.au. As for how Optus might distribute this media, well that is what I am really interested in.
We are living in a time where media is undergoing some big changes. We have had internet and video on demand with live events for a long time (Have a look here for an example). The technology has been under development with media streaming services like Youtube, Twitch, Justin.tv, Hulu, Amazon, Netflix, Stan and Presto. These services have pushed ISPs to make big changes to their own networks to cope with demand and it looks like the technology has matured to a point that it is eyeing off the massive sporting events traditionally broadcast on old media models such as Free to Air TV and Pay TV.
But what is it going to mean for the consumer? If we no longer use Foxtel or FTA TV to get what we want, how the heck are we going to get it and will we be happy about it?
We only have to look as far as the United States to find the answers. Terrestrial TV services and Pay TV over there is giving way to smart TV and set top services. For example, baseball fans can access a rich stream of everything baseball. The same for Basketball, the local flavour of football, Mixed Martial Arts and even Entertainment Wrestling.
But no TV networks touch these services.
It is all delivered through Apps on smart TVs and set top boxes like the Apple TV.
In a move that is very similar to the changes the music industry went through years ago, the artist or producer of the content is working closer with the consumer and cutting out the middle man. If you want to get your basketball fix, you subscribe to the NBA app on your smart TV and start watching. It is all delivered over the internet with no need for an antenna or an expensive PayTV package. This is a proven business model and is working great in Australia (look at Netflix, Stan and Presto for proof) because the consumer is comfortable with Video on Demand subscription services. The audience is there, ready and waiting.
I am seeing a future where peak sporting Australian bodies will be offering subscription services direct to the consumer and in the case with the EPL there may be partnerships with ISPs to ensure that the service is delivered reliably.
It will not be limited to the mainstream sports either. Similar to podcasting, the creation and distribution of media has been put within reach of anyone with something to say or show we could hope to see minor and special interest sports reach wider audiences while giving those smaller sports a chance to grow their audience and generate an income stream that was never there before.
We should be expecting more from media because I am certain we will be getting more in the very near future so we might as well be ready for it.
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