Global Sports Forum: Media Rights – TV vs. Web

There was an excellent panel this afternoon on the topic of media rights, television vs. web, with insights provided by three very qualified participants:

  • Eric Le Lay, President Eurosport (France)
  • David Sternberg, CEO of Universal Sports (USA)
  • Michel Masquelier, President IMG Media (Belgium)

On the expanded viewing options for sports fans:

  • Eric:  There is more and more competition and options for sports television, now including 3D technology. Probably in the next five years, more people will have chance to watch live events via the Internet, as more people get access to better connections.
  • David:  The availability of content on different platforms will continue to increase with new devices and more connections. These different platforms are and should be all complimentary.
  • Michel:  There are so many new outlets and new technologies that allow for exposure of more sports. The current model has been based on subscription revenue. But there is so much free content available, will this model still apply in the future?

On media consumption, especially from a younger audience:

  • Michel:  It is important to appreciate that the consumer is asking for more choice. Youth are spending more time with social media and gaming, so how do sponsors activate around that outside of just broadcast media value? It’s not just tv vs. web – the internet can enhance the tv experience.
  • David:  There is more simultaneous, additive media consumption taking place, especially among youth. They are digital natives.
  • Eric:  There is a need to be on all devices. Media companies need to work with sports organizations on how to engage a young audience on multiple channels.

On the topic of Internet TV:

  • Eric:  For it to succeed, they need to bring added value to the experience over television. They do have the added value of choice. They also haven’t started down the road of buying content yet.

On social media’s impact:

  • David:  The more people talking about your content via other channels – facebook, twitter, texting –  the better. It has shown to have a positive impact of ratings and media value.

On the topic of piracy:

  • Michel:  There are lots of small offenders and a need to monitor diligently. The broadcast community as a whole should work together. It’s a situation today because of the expansion of technology and opens the gate to piracy, but I don’t feel it is out of control.
  • David:  We should respond to the interests that are driving piracy, which is the need for people to be in control of what they watch, when they watch and on what devices. We can learn from the mistakes that the music industry made in how they dealt with piracy years ago.

I personally think David’s last comment was one of the most important insights I have heard so far. Ultimately, the best way to solve almost any problem, whether the issue is piracy, ratings or ticket sales, is to start with the customer and identify what they are asking for. Trying to attack the short-term piracy issue and prosecuting those sharing content illegally does not work to solve the bigger question of how media companies can provide content in the ways that their customers are asking for it. The organizations that focus their efforts on that solution will succeed in the end and make piracy irrelevant.