Live streaming & its effect on the multi million pound world of TV sports deals - Is Streaming the Next Big Thing for Online Gambling

The fact that the internet age has altered our assumptions regarding entertainment and leisure is not news to anyone. But the scope and scale of the changes it has brought about are only just beginning.

Amazon has just signed a three year deal with the Football Association to stream ten Premier League games per year starting next year. It doesn’t sound much given the hundreds of Premier League games that are played in a season, but it will sound alarm bells for the clubs, sports associations and TV companies that are currently tied into multi million pound deals, not just in football but in sports coverage in general.

The Netflix effect

It might sound melodramatic to suggest that this signals the end TV sports coverage as we know it, but you only have to look at the way we watch movies to see which way the wind is blowing. It doesn’t seem so long ago that popping in to Blockbuster Video was part of the Saturday afternoon family ritual. The chain had 9,000 outlets around the world. Today, there is one store remaining, and that is only being kept alive as a kind of time capsule.

The effect is spreading from DVD and video to TV – in the USA, the cable TV networks are losing three percent of subscribers per year, and it is not just relating to the channels that stream movies. Global sports giant ESPN is reported to be losing 10,000 viewers every single day. And it doesn’t take a genius to work out where they are going instead.

The changing face of sport

These changes in viewing trends have come at the same time as broader changes in the nature of sports as a whole. Streaming is inextricably entwined with eSports, which has seen exponential growth in popularity over the past couple of years. Streaming sites like Twitch have already cornered the market among those who like to follow and bet on eSports tournaments, and the channel has been quick to diversify into conventional sports coverage.

The recent football World Cup provides a perfect case in point. Official viewing and streaming figures are still awaited for the final rounds, but one platform reported first round streaming figures that were 60 percent higher than those of the entire Rio 2014 tournament. Bandwidth reached 23.8Tpbs, more than three times the peak for the Rio event.

Changing with the times

Both the broadcasters and the sports administrators need to see what is happening and evolve with the times. The BBC, a company that is not always famed for its forward-thinking attitude, is one broadcaster that is certainly trying to do so. Its iPlayer streaming service is becoming an increasingly important part of its overall service – to again use the World Cup as an example, the England v Tunisia match drew 21 million BBC viewers. And three million of them watched via iPlayer.

That proportion will only go one way over the coming years, and TV broadcasters that do not react will, before long, find themselves staring at the equivalent of a deserted video rental store.