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YouTube TV Strikes Deal To Air MLS Games

Brandon Contes

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YouTube TV reached a multi-year agreement with the expansion MLS organization, Los Angeles Football Club, as their exclusive broadcast rights holder. LAFC is the first professional sports franchise in North America to have its games exclusively presented on a streaming platform.

Terms of the agreement between YouTube TV and LAFC were not released, but according to the LA Times, the deal is thought to be worth $18 million for three years.

“We have a partner in YouTube TV that is willing to do innovative things in the way of doing augmented content,” said Tom Penn, president and co-owner of LAFC. “They are pushing the envelope all the time in the ways content is delivered to fans.” The LAFC’s ownership group also includes Peter Guber, Magic Johnson and Will Ferrell.

30 of the LAFC’s 34 games during the upcoming season will be available on YouTube TV, with about half of them being exclusive. Some of the games are nationally televised on ESPN or Fox Sports 1, both of which are channels already carried by YouTube TV. Subscribers pay $35 per month for YouTube TV and will incur no additional cost to watch the LAFC games.

“When we talk about innovation, it goes beyond a traditional distribution deal and really looking at programming for LAFC fans both on and off the field,” said Angela Courtin, global head of marketing at YouTube TV and YouTube Originals. “We think it’s going to be groundbreaking.”

Many professional leagues have experimented with digital streaming on different platforms, creating new competition and opportunity for teams. While Major League Soccer is not in the realm of the four major professional North American sports, LAFC is still the first professional franchise to have an exclusive broadcast partnership with a digital company. The MLS’ Los Angeles Galaxy are seven seasons into their record 10-year $55 million contract with Spectrum SportsNet and averaged just 9,000 viewers per game last season.

Since launching last year, YouTube TV has already acquired 50 TV networks. Recognizing the value of sports coverage and advertising, the Google owned property partnered with Major League Baseball as the presenting sponsor of the 2017 World Series. Digital rights for “Thursday Night Football” are still up for bid and it will be interesting to see if YouTube TV makes a push for the “TNF” package which cost Amazon $50 million last year.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

Sports TV News

The NFL Still Considering Multiple Offers For Sunday Ticket

The NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has not bid for the package but has stated it is willing to partner with the new rightsholder for a potential deal.

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Sunday Ticket Negotiations

DirecTV currently has the rights to Sunday Ticket. That deal expires at the end of this upcoming football season. The NFL is expected to make a boatload of cash when they decide which media organization gets the next rights to the package. The only question is… who will that be?

Alex Sherman of CNBC reports that the NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has decided not bid for the package. However, they are interested in partnering with the new rightsholder for a potential deal. DirecTV knows that Sunday Ticket is a staple in bars and restaurants and is interested in maintaining those relationships.

Outside of the bar/restaurant industry, success has been limited for the satellite provider with the football package. Fewer than two million subscribers signed up for Sunday Ticket each year which made the package a money-loser for the satellite TV provider.

According to the report, the NFL wants more than $2 billion for the rights and a stake in NFL Media, which is being packaged with Sunday Ticket. Also on the table is the NFL’s mobile rights. The league’s previous mobile agreement with Verizon has ended.

An interesting piece of the negotiations is Sunday Ticket price. According to the report, a buyer would have limited flexibility on pricing. The NFL signed contracts with CBS and Fox and within the framework of those deals, language mandates Sunday Ticket have a premium price. That’s to prevent loss of viewers from the networks that feature local market Sunday afternoon games. So essentially, the price is the price for the consumer.

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Sports TV News

F1 Renews With ESPN For U.S. Media Rights

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

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F1 ESPN

The racing series F1 has decided to stick with ESPN through 2025.

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

The reported value of the three-year contract is set to pay F1 $75-90M per year for the U.S. media rights. Amazon had offered to pay roughly $100M per year, with the right to sublicense to a linear broadcast network. Comcast’s offer was similar to ESPN’s in terms of value and the structure. They also wanted to put select races on it’s streaming service, Peacock.

Netflix was in on the negotiations, as well. The makers of Drive to Survive, the streaming series that many credit with the sport’s explosion in popularity in recent years, wasn’t close on on their financial offer. Also, it seems F1 executives were not ready to put all of its races on a streaming service just yet.

Currently, F1 receives $5M per year for ESPN to broadcast it’s races. ESPN has grabbed about 1.0 million viewers per race. That makes F1 a more than viable option for the network to invest into again. ESPN will be able to put a small number of races on its ESPN+ streaming service exclusively. The vast majority being on ABC or ESPN.

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Sports TV News

Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

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Skip Bayless

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.

The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.

Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.

“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”

Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.

“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”

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