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The Battle Between D2C Products and Aggregators for Subscription Supremacy

By Published On: April 04, 2023 - Categories: Blog Industry Insights Live Streaming Opinion OTT Sports

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Our recent visit to New York City for SportsPro’s OTT USA conference was an eye-opening experience, not only because it was Paul’s first visit to the Big Apple, but also because it highlighted to us how the rights game operates very differently across the pond to how it's been developing in Europe over the last few years.

It was the particular focus on the big players in the industry that stood out to us. What OTT means to the likes of Apple, Amazon, ComCast & Discovery is very different to what it means to the sport entities and broadcasters that are looking to not only drive revenue growth, but also increase their fan engagement and make their content more accessible on both a local and global level.

At the conference, the discussion revolved around which big rights would be purchased next, with a focus on the NBA, rather than how sports entities can go directly to the consumer. While this narrative may have suited the big rights aggregators, the sports streaming distribution wars are actually not as one-sided as the event portrayed.

Both approaches have their arguments, particularly against the backdrop of the wider economic climate. Consumers are considering subscription services more carefully due to economic conditions, with value for money being a top priority. While an Amazon Prime subscription with live sports content from various entities might be attractive for a casual sports fan, a niche direct-to-consumer (D2C) option may be more appealing to someone interested in just one sport or team, particularly with extended live and bonus feature content available on such platforms.

For example, Tennis TV, which is the home of the ATP tour, streams every live match from the ATP 1000, 500 & 250 tournaments throughout the year. If tennis is someone's favourite sport and the one thing they want to watch more than anything else, this will always be their preferred platform over a service that chooses which games from these tournaments to show and is very selective about which content it makes available.

We strongly believe that the likes of WNBA, Nascar, Drone Racing League, Pickleball would absolutely benefit from a D2C approach to engage in a much more tailored way to their fans. The impact the sport or competition could gain in new or existing markets can far transcend the limited access to consumers via more traditional broadcast strategies. It’s a powerful way for such brands to build their communities; one that we’ve seen is paramount to their term success.

Making choice and trade-offs depend on an individual’s sport and team preferences and varies by regions, markets, and cultures. We at StreamAMG challenge the view that America is waiting for the big re-bundling, as there may be a lot more to consider for emerging or niche sports seeking to increase their exposure and engagement with fans. With the largest client-base in sports OTT, we have proven over our more than 20 years in business that there is value of investing in a D2C platform, which can also translate into value for ancillary broadcast rights deals with one of the linear or streaming media giants.

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