Days after ONE World Sports’ channel branding changed to Eleven Sports Saturday, Eleven Sports (a London-based broadcaster with a presence in Poland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Singapore and Taiwan) has confirmed that they are entering the U.S. market with the purchase of some of ONE World Sports’ distribution assets. However, this may not answer the question of what will happen to the debts of ONE World Sports, which include hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to unpaid freelancers and production companies. Eleven Sports’ release makes it pretty clear they’re only picking up some of ONE World Sports’ assets:
Pioneering global broadcaster ELEVEN SPORTS has today confirmed the expansion of its worldwide reach by breaking into the US market following the acquisition of certain distribution assets of One World Sports.
With the acquisition of certain One World Sports’ distribution assets, the US network is available to 50 million homes through carriage deals including, but not limited to: AT&T, DIRECTV, Verizon, Charter and NCTC.
ELEVEN SPORTS will build a strong portfolio of rights in the US from sports including cycling, ice hockey, basketball, soccer, rugby, lacrosse, cricket, drone racing and other millennial-focused sports, with specific information about those rights being made public in the near future.
So, there isn’t a lot there about exactly what the new channel’s programming will include, but the “acquisition of certain distribution assets” line makes it seem unlikely that this deal will involve Eleven Sports taking over ONE World Sports’ debts. That’s what many of those unpaid freelancers feared. The challenge for them may be trying to get ONE World to pay up (perhaps with some of the money they received from this sale), and that may involve legal wrangling and no quick solution.
As per Eleven Sports itself, we don’t yet know what its U.S. programming will be like. They are really hyping up their focus on millennials, though:
ELEVEN is already delivering world-class international and domestic sports and lifestyle entertainment in five territories across Europe and Asia and will position itself in the US as the sports network ‘For the Fans’, where emerging and established sports will be combined to provide engaging and compelling action tailored towards the millennial generation. Featuring sports content that is not readily available, ELEVEN will be the network for under-represented fans who are looking for unique and different events and ways to consume their favourite sports.
“Entering the US market presents a significant moment for ELEVEN and a fantastic opportunity that is aligned to our core strategy to reach and connect with millennial fans everywhere with refreshing and exciting content,” said Marc Watson, Executive Chairman, ELEVEN SPORTS and Aser Media, ELEVEN’s parent company. “By breaking into the US market, we are opening the door to 50 million more fans from day one and we are committed to providing them with LIVE action and unique insight into sports content that is both engaging and tailored to suit fans’ specific interests.”
Mike Farrell of Multichannel News has some interesting insights on this, including on how the ONE World furloughs came after another suitor backed out and on just who’s running Eleven Sports:
One World had been on the ropes over the past several months, after one suitor unexpectedly backed away from a deal for the network, which forced it to furlough much of its staff.
Eleven Sports is owned by The Channels Co., Ltd., and Italian investor Andrea Radrizzani, founder of global investment company Aser and founding partner and vice chairman of MP & Silva, an international sports rights company. Through Aser Radrizzani purchased 50% of second tier UK Championship League team Leeds United.
Eleven Sports launched in 2015 as a linear and streaming sports service and according to its website has launched multiple channels across select markets in Poland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Singapore and Taiwan. The company says it offers live coverage of sports events from around the world, analysis, digital content and local programming. In a statement, Eleven Sports said that with the deal, the channel is now available in 50 million homes in the U.S through carriage deals with AT&T, DirecTV, Verizon, Charter, the National Cable Television Cooperative and others, though the network’s actual subscriber count would be a much smaller number than 50 million.
We’ll see what the new Eleven Sports looks like, and what happens to those who are still owed money by ONE World Sports.