We’ve seen Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Verizon and YouTube stream live sports. Amazon and Verizon get to stream the Holy Grail of leagues, the NFL this season. Facebook and Twitter have agreements to stream MLB and Twitter has various agreements to stream other sports as well. So are we entering an era when the tech companies will compete with the television networks to bid on live sports?
According to an article in Bloomberg Businessweek, that scenario isn’t likely. Despite leagues thinking that they could pit the tech and TV against each other, the article says there’s no indication that the tech giants will shell out beaucoup bucks for long-term contracts. The cable and broadcast networks have been paying millions and even billions of dollars for the rights to air live sports knowing that they will attract viewers.
But as younger viewers abandon TV and go to the internet for their video, sports leagues are hoping they can make that move along with them. However, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg isn’t on board on paying up-front sports rights fees:
“The long-term goal is actually not to be paying for specific content like that, but doing a revenue-share model,” he told stock analysts in May.
So rather than pay big money to stream games, Facebook would rather share the ad revenue with the leagues. YouTube shares ad revenue with its uploaders and it’s not concerned about the broadcast model.
Netflix continues to pooh-pooh the idea of bringing live sports to its streaming service:
“It is hard to transform sports through the internet,” Netflix Inc. CEO Reed Hastings said at a tech conference in May. “You carry it over the internet, but it doesn’t add much value to the sports experience.”
Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have already built their sites on different experiences and while video is important to all, sports isn’t the main attraction. It’s an attraction, but not the main one. So as they continue to build their followings, spending huge on live sports won’t be their main priority.