Over the past two years, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Verizon and Yahoo have picked up smaller sets of mostly nonexclusive rights to different packages of live pro games, essentially rebroadcasting what’s seen on TV to a fraction of the audiences coming to linear channels. But the current bidding war for primetime TV rights to “Thursday Night Football,” which the NFL is shopping to broadcasters and streaming services alike, is indication enough that Silicon Valley players are poised to snatch away all of the rights packages they’re currently content to share.
“One day you’ll wake up and say, ‘Son of a gun! The NFL is no longer on X network — it’s in a new place,’” predicts industry vet Michael Kassan, founder and CEO of consulting firm MediaLink.
Having their own direct-to-consumer streaming services lets them collect and analyze granular information on sports fans’ viewing behavior. In an increasingly multiplatform world, a treasure chest of rich metrics is a clear differentiator. Used effectively, they can help media companies be more valuable partners to leagues, which are looking to use data to create smarter and more effective audience development and engagement. “Data is the new black. If I’m the person who can give it to you, that’s going to be an advantage,” says MediaLink’s Kassan.