More than a third of the world’s top soccer clubs and six of the top ten largest leagues and federations now offer premium over-the-top (OTT) streaming services, according to new research.
Of the new rights holder-owned services to hit the market in recent times, nearly half were launched in the past two years, a statistic which underlines the rapid growth seen in the OTT sports sector.
The insights form part of a new report by NAGRA, the Kudelski Group-owned pay-TV and OTT solutions provider, which assesses the impact standalone sports streaming services are having on pay-TV.
The report, titled The Global Market For Premium Sports OTT Services, notes that an increasing number of sports rights holders are launching premium OTT services 'to drive additional engagement and revenues from their most loyal fans.’
In North America, all four major leagues have long operated their own streaming services that show live and archived games both domestically and internationally. Outside of the US, meanwhile, Formula One also operates its own OTT platform, F1 TV, which debuted last year.
Of Europe’s top domestic soccer competitions, four of which rank inside the world's top ten leagues and federations by revenue, only Italy’s Serie A currently transmits live match action via its own OTT service.
Others, however, are showing signs of following suit. England's Premier League is reportedly considering launching its own streaming platform, while Spain's La Liga already operates LaLigaSportsTV, a free service that provides coverage of Spanish sports content but has yet to stream live La Liga games.
Another property that ranks among the world’s top ten by revenue but which has yet to be shown via a standalone streaming service is the Uefa Champions League - although Uefa, European soccer’s governing body, announced the launch of Uefa.tv in June.
That service will initially offer live match streaming from Uefa's women’s, youth, and futsal competitions in certain markets, as well as carrying a channel dedicated to the Bundesliga, German soccer’s top club competition.
At the club level, half of the top ten soccer sides by revenue, and a third of the top 25, now operate a paid OTT service. These services typically offer complementary programming such as behind the scenes footage, interviews and original shows.
Some, however, comprise live coverage of matches. This week, Premier League champions Manchester City became the latest to join the fray when they launched Man City for TV, a dedicated OTT platform that will live stream several of the club's pre-season fixtures.
While more and more clubs and leagues are investing in establishing direct-to-consumer (DTC) services, the NAGRA report notes that rights holders 'must weigh the benefits of DTC revenues against the risk of diminishing the value of the rights packages they sell to distributors'.
It adds: ‘To date, [rights holders] have mainly chosen to leave their rights deals intact and focus instead on creating supplementary, value-added content for loyal fans.’
Download the full report here.