Cricket social video’s clipped wings
Welcome to first world problems. I, frustrated cricket fan, will be your host for this segment.
Having woken up too late to see the incredible over bowled by Jimmy Anderson which firmly swung day five and the first Test of England’s ongoing India tour in the visitor’s favour, and after reading a match report eulogising Anderson’s six balls of perfection, I desperately wanted to catch up on what I missed.
Usually, for these kinds of moments, Twitter is a great platform as broadcasters and rights holders rapidly churn out highlight clips to maximise engagement, but on this occasion there was nothing from any official channels there, nor anything on any other social media platform for that matter.
Channel 4, which paid a reported UK£5 million to broadcast the series in the UK, is unable to show any social media clips as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has retained the global rights for all short-form online content.
Despite Star paying Rs6138.1 crore (US$840 million) in 2018 for a global, five-year broadcast partnership, the Disney-owned Indian media brand did not manage to get its hands on those increasingly precious video morsels.
This would be fine if the BCCI’s social media output was anything approaching adequate, but instead its combined 58.2 million followers across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter were treated to a few scorecard graphics, some stills and a video of the Indian batsmen warming up. It is a stark contrast to the usual high-quality mix of social content that UK cricket fans are accustomed to for home series, where Sky Sports, the ECB and the BBC all share rights to clips.
Whilst this is a highly personal frustration, it is hardly hyperbolic to suggest Channel 4, Star and the BCCI are missing out on potential social engagement in the millions. As the body managing the touring side, the ECB has no say in this, but the inability to fully capitalise on a moment where its premier product has a brief domestic window of terrestrial TV’s significant reach must also be hugely frustrating.
It is also a parable for all major rights holders and broadcasters in 2021. If you are not thinking about your social media video output globally, then you are not doing it right.
Super Bowl 55: behind the numbers
This year’s Super Bowl was the most live-streamed NFL game ever in the US (and probably overseas too, but we do not have those figures). Across CBS’ digital platforms the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' comfortable win over the Kansas City Chiefs averaged 5.7 million digital viewers per minute, up 65 per cent on the 2020 edition. It was also the first NFL game in history to deliver more than one billion total streaming minutes.
Those are some pretty numbers, especially considering CBS All Access suffered technical issues pre-kickoff and into the first quarter, but they in no way mask what was a disappointing Super Bowl for the NFL, nor do they compensate for the drop in linear broadcast viewership over the last couple of years. All in all, the game drew 96.4 million total viewers across all of CBS’ platforms.
The Super Bowl, as ever, performed better than most but all sports events that rely on a swell of casual fan interest have suffered in the last year. According to Sports Media Watch, the Super Bowl (down nine per cent) continued a year-on-year declining audience trend seen across US sports, following in the footsteps of the college football championship (down 27 per cent); MLB’s World Series (down 30 per cent); the NBA finals (down 49 per cent); the Kentucky Derby (down 49 per cent); the final round of the Masters (down 58 per cent); and the Stanley Cup final (down 61 per cent).
CBS had to endure a perfect storm; the pandemic impacted peoples’ ability to gather to watch the big game and the NFL’s ability to promote its showpiece fixture to the fullest extent, plus it proved a dud contest on the field with the audience peaking in the first half. However, Nielsen figures reported by Sportico show that 25 per cent fewer Americans were watching TV on Super Bowl Sunday night than they were three years ago, which perhaps offers a more macro explanation for the game’s worst rating since 2007.
What does it all mean? Well, Super Bowl 55 is likely to be the single most-watched US TV show of the year and it still dwarfs the equivalents from the country’s other major sports, so the NFL’s big game is still the most bankable commercial product out there. That said, faced with the challenge of consumers with more entertainment choices than ever before, decline is perhaps now to be expected and fiercely fought against.
In the plethora of post-Super Bowl ratings pieces, Patrick Crakes’ analysis stood out. He told Front Office Sports: “The Super Bowl is the most casual-dependent of all mega events in media and [viewers] now have less patience, and more options than ever, to pivot to immediately. Everything from game quality to the commercial creative to the halftime show probably matter now more than they used to.”
Another shameless plug
In the 14th January OTT Newsletter I highlighted some of the names speaking at SportsPro's upcoming OTT USA event on the 3rd and 4th March, but now the full agenda has been released with some exciting new additions. UFC chief operating officer, Lawrence Epstein, and MLB's chief operations and strategy officer, Chris Marinak, stand out for me, but there are plenty of sessions that demand attention. You can register for that event here.
• Podcast | Sports tech ideas to invest in now and Greenfly’s collaborative content
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Trends to keep an eye on
• LaLigaTV lands on Amazon Prime Video Channels in the UK
• Serie A’s €1.7bn CVC deal at risk as uncertainty grows over international TV pacts
• Amazon dips toe in Australian market with swimming streaming deal
• Sky almost back at pre-pandemic subs levels as it returns to growth
• F1 sees social engagements grow 99% in 2020
• Fifth downs, drone cameras and celebrity owners… welcome to the world of Fan Controlled Football
• BT Sport’s Matt Stagg on 5G and the future of sports broadcasting
• ‘We start with the customer and work backwards’: The Amazon playbook for buying sports rights
• At Large | As sport’s models change, shared benefits will be key to future growth
Reports worth tracking
• The Trade Desk | Future of TV
• Parks Associates | Future of Video
• IPA | Making Sense of the Commercial Media Landscape
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