The Future Of Sports Is In Streaming And Promises To Be Exciting
While streaming movies and TV shows feels like old hat at this point, live sports has been a bit slow to get to the table, likely due to long-term contractual agreements keeping them stuck in place.
However, as these agreements expire, new, multi-billion dollar negotiations between sports leagues and media companies are taking their place. It’s apparent that sports leagues are looking to make up for lost time and join the streaming party in a big way, reconnecting with viewers who have abandoned traditional cable platforms for streaming content.
We’re not even halfway through 2021, but we’ve seen a multitude of new relationships forged. Here’s a recap of where we are so far with sports streaming this year:
The Future of the NFL
In spite of baseball’s reputation, football is, without a doubt, America’s favorite pastime. Out of the 100 most-watched TV programs in the last five years, 77 of them have been NFL games. In March of this year, the NFL reached a $100+ billion arrangement with CBS, NBC, Fox, and ESPN/ABC. The agreement allows these companies’ streaming networks to broadcast games for the next 11 years.
Comcast plans to leverage its NFL deal using its streaming platform. Peacock will get exclusive national rights to stream six regular-season games, one per season, from 2023-2028. This is in addition to its ongoing streams of NBC’s regular weekly NFL broadcasts. Peacock will also launch a virtual NFL channel highlighting classic games and content from NFL Films.
Paramount+ will stream CBS games to local customers on both their ad-supported and ad-free tiers.
ESPN+ will air one international NFL game and will continue to simulcast Monday Night Football games that air on ESPN and ABC. Additionally, starting with the 2022 season, ESPN+ will stream one exclusive national game each year.
The Future of the NHL
In April of this year, NHL) revealed that it is leaving NBC Sports for the greener pastures of Disney and Turner Sports.
The deal will bring NHL regular season, Stanley Cup playoff games, and Stanley Cup Finals games to TNT and TBS starting next season and running through the 2027-2028 season. Turner will host the Stanley Cup Final in 2023, 2025, and 2027; air one conference final series each season and half of the first two rounds of the playoffs along with 72 regular-season games per season (ESPN would claim the even-numbered years for the Stanley Cup.) Turner also won the exclusive rights to broadcast the Winter Classic, the league’s outdoor celebration of hockey that takes the game back to its roots.
HBO Max is a subscription video streaming service that gives access to the full HBO library, along with exclusive Max Originals, and access to every Warner Bros. film on HBO Max on the same day that it hits theaters.
HBO Max has two tiers, an ad-supported plan for TBD and ad-free plan for 89 kr. HBO Max without ads also includes features like the ability to download offline and 4K streaming.
They also will get Max Originals that aren’t available to HBO channel subscribers, like “The Flight Attendant” (Kaley Cuoco), “Love Life” (Anna Kendrick), as well as reboots to “Sex In The City” and “Gossip Girl.”
According to WarnerMedia, the agreement between Turner Sports and the National Hockey League includes live streaming and digital rights across WarnerMedia including HBO Max. However, WarnerMedia’s Zucker says there will be no immediate plans to use HBO Max for NHL coverage during the next calendar year.
The Future of MLB
Disney also reached an agreement with Major League Baseball, securing the rights to televise the games through 2028. That agreement is valued at $560 million per season and will last for seven years.
ESPN+ will stream one regular-season game every day of the season, with all games that are televised across ABC and ESPN also made available for ESPN+ viewers.
The Future of the WNBA
The WNBA will be streaming on social media and Paramount+, with 20 games hitting Facebook and another 12 on Twitter for the 2021 regular season. The WNBA has also forged a deal with Amazon Prime Video, bringing 16 regular-season games to the streamer as well as exclusive streaming rights to the Commissioner's Cup Championship.
The Future of the WWE:
After trying their hand at their own streaming platform, the WWE shut down their proprietary WWE Network in early April and moved their back catalog of a whopping 47,000 hours of content over to NBC’s Peacock to the tune of more than $1 billion.
Peacock is a subscription video streaming service from NBCUniversal that gives access to up to 15,000 hours of content including original shows, blockbuster movies, and classic television series.
Just like other streaming services, Peacock will have their own original series including reboots of Save By The Bell, Punky Brewster, and Battlestar Galactica. They also have shows like Rutherford Falls (Ed Helms), Dr. Death (Alec Baldwin), and a behind-the-scenes docs-series about Saturday Night Live.
The company has acquired the rights to many classic shows like the entire Dick Wolf library including Law & Order and Chicago Fire, Parks and Recreation, and The Office.
The service will also feature blockbusters and critically-acclaimed films from Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation, Illumination and content acquired from Hollywood’s biggest studios.
While reception to Peacock’s handling of streaming WWE content thus far has been mixed, to put it lightly, the platform saw an encouraging increase in subscribers after the move and would do well to keep its audience happy due to the void left from the postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympics and the continued anxiety around their possible cancellation in 2021.
The Future of Soccer
Previously, only available on ESPN, Paramount+ will be the home of matches from Italy’s premier soccer league Serie A for the next three years starting with the 2021-2022 season thanks to ViacomCBS forking over $224 million for the rights. The platform will be streaming all 380 regular season matches and at least 25 Coppa Italia games. Paramount+ will also be showing the Supercoppa Italiana between the leading teams in Serie A and Coppa Italia.
Paramount+ is a subscription video streaming service that includes on-demand access to 12,000+ TV show episodes including originals Star Trek: Discovery, Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants, and MTV’s Laguna Beach. Meet captivating characters, catch up on your favorite sport, explore new worlds in the growing collection of Paramount+.
Previously under the name ‘CBS All Access,’ Subscribers can choose between their Essentials Plan (which includes ads) for $4.99/month, or go commercial-free with their Premium Plan for $9.99/month.
With their Premium Plan, in addition to not having ads, you will also get access to your local CBS affiliate to stream your local news, prime-time line-up, and late-night. You will also be able to download offline and watch select shows in 4K.
With the lower cost “Essential” plan, you will still be able to watch live NFL games, Champions League, and national news – but you will no longer get your local CBS affiliate like the old ad-supported plan.
With their new app, enjoy advanced recommendations, curated homepages, and new content categories while still being able to stream major live sports like NFL, College Football, College Basketball. Sports fans will also appreciate the service’s inclusion of NFL on CBS, PGA Tour, along with every match of UEFA Champions League and Serie A.
Paramount+ continues its efforts to own the American soccer audience with rights to the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, and the National Women’s Soccer League. 300 matches of Argentina’s Liga Profesional de Fútbol, 360 matches of Brazil’s Brasileirāo Serie A league, and 200 matches of CONCACAF Nations League make sure that every fan has a seat at the table.
Lastly, the platform will also be streaming Australia’s A-League and W-League matches.
ESPN+ will be the exclusive home of Spain’s Copa del Rey and its final, live streaming an estimated 65 matches per year.