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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

ABC Scores Most Watched NBA Saturday Primetime Game In 4 Years

“The game drew 3.7 million viewers.”

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The Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night. While the game’s controversial finish left LeBron James and Patrick Beverly upset, executives at the Walt Disney Company had nothing but smiles thanks to the performance of ABC.

The game drew 3.7 million viewers. That means the Celtics’ win is the most-watched game in the ABC Saturday night prime-time window in the last four years. A February 2019 game between the Lakers and Golden State Warriors drew 4.1 million.

Boston also delivered the highest-rated game of the NBA season so far outside of the league’s stacked Christmas Day slate.

NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC is experiencing a nice uptick in viewership this season. Through the weekend, the Saturday night games are averaging over 3.4 million viewers according to an ESPN press release.

That number represents a 16% jump from last season. The edition of NBA Countdown that airs before the Saturday night game is having a good season as well. It’s average audience is up 3% to just under 1.5 million.

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Sports TV News

NHL Ratings on ESPN, TNT Down in 2nd Year

So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season.

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Viewership totals from ESPN and TNT show NHL ratings have declined heading into the All-Star break, but there are some extenuating circumstances for the nearly 22% drop.

So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season. However, both channels have increased their linear television schedule, doubling from 27 games to 54.

ESPN has aired 18 games with an average of 402,000 viewers. In the same time period last year, the worldwide leader had only aired seven contests, but garnered 622,000 per game. None of ESPN’s games last season had aired on weekends, while the network has broadcast six games on Sunday this year alone. The 12 games ESPN has aired that weren’t on Sunday have averaged 491,000 viewers.

The 2023 NHL All-Star Game will air on ABC Saturday, and the network is hoping for a lift from last season. In 2022, ratings fell 38% from the previous All-Star Game on NBC, and hit the lowest total since 2009. The NHL Skills challenge saw its largest audience in a decade after airing on ESPN in primetime on a Friday evening. Nearly 1.1 million watched the skills challenge, a 30% increase compared to 2020.

At this time last season, TNT had aired 20 games. Through 36 games this season, the network has seen an average of 359,000 viewers. The network is helped by the 2023 Winter Classic, which took place at Fenway Park on Monday, January 2nd. The afternoon contest saw an audience of 1.78 million, up 31% compared to the previous year.

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Sports TV News

AFC Championship Game Delivers New Viewership High For CBS

53.1 million viewers tuned in to see the Chiefs victory over the Bengals, making it the most-watched television program since Super Bowl LVI.

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The AFC Championship Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals drew a massive audience for CBS.

53.1 million viewers tuned in to see the Chiefs’ controversial victory over the Bengals, making it the most-watched television program since Super Bowl LVI. Additionally, the event is the most-watched NFL Conference Championship Game since 2017.

CBS claims the game peaked with 59.3 million viewers and was also the most-streamed live sporting event in the history of Paramount+.

With an audience of 53.1 million, CBS concludes its NFL playoff coverage averaging 40.798 million viewers for each game. That leads all networks thus far. The 2022 NFL season was the most-watched regular season on CBS in the past seven seasons.

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