We never know just how quickly some things will move.
On 3 August we published an article about significant changes coming through in the US sport television arena. Much driven by Fox Sport 1.
Now here’s the next instalment…
Just days after we had gone to ‘print’ with our suggestion that sports television in Australia may be next in line for a serious shake-up, with some impetus from Fox after the start-up of Fox Sports 1 in the US, and pushed that out to you in the last edition of “Back on the Block”, than Kim Williams resigned as CEO of News Corp Australia. He has been replaced by Julian Clarke. Sure, his is a newspaper business and the TV holdings and operations are separately run…but don’t think for a minute that the two will not work in close synergy where necessary. Clarke said in an interview with The Australian: We're going to deliver our journalistic content in any form that technology provides," …."the product is very different in its different delivery forms. Not only in the method of distribution, but the experience of consuming varies. The market is working this all out right at this moment." He said "understanding product segmentation and usage from the public's point of view" would be key to the company's success.
Then it was announced that Fox Sports Australia will start charging for access to its foxsports.com.au website as part of an overhaul of the business that will also see new shows added to its pay-TV channel line-up and greater integration with the other digital and print assets of owner News Corp Australia. Fox sports reporters now have TV cameras installed in the metropolitan newsrooms, allow them to broadcast from their existing locations.
"The Fox Sports website will be getting access to all of the News Corp journalism as the News Corp sites get access to all of the Fox Sports video," said Fox Sports head Patrick Delany. "At the moment Fox Sports is just sitting there as a disseminator of straight facts, we've got highlights and scores and that sort of stuff. What it will develop out to now is a channel that sits there and makes comment on everything in a similar way to Sky News, as well as delivering the facts."
News gained full ownership of Fox Sports in mid-2012 as part of a deal in which it acquired 50% of pay-TV provider Foxtel by buying James Packer's 25% stake. The other 50% is owned by Channel Nine and it seems that Kim Williams may have ‘forgotten’ the News stake should always be paramount.
Meantime, the caravan keeps rolling on – and as foreshadowed in our commentaries, Fox is further acquiring rights for key events in the US, Australia and elsewhere.
Fox Sports has secured a new broadcast agreement with the United States Tennis Association under which it will broadcast the next four Flushing Meadows events exclusively in Australia. Fox’s coverage of the US Open, since 1998, has been shared with a free-to-air broadcaster on each occasion. As part of the new deal, Fox Sports will introduce a nightly prime time review show Tennis Today to complement its coverage of each day of the 2013 US Open.
Car racing: Fox Sports has announced a five-year multi-media rights deal with the International Motor Sports Association to broadcast United SportsCar Racing until 2018.The announcement, along with previous news that the company will broadcast NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races through 2024, places Fox predominantly in the car racing arena.
The world's first fully-electric car racing series, FIA Formula E Championship, will be distributed globally by Fox Sports. The series begins in September 2014 and features open-wheel cars powered exclusively by electricity and racing in the heart of 10 of the world's leading cities.
In a parallel set of deals, News Corp has acquired the rights for 3 years to show online digital clips of the English Premier League in Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia. News Corp also struck similar deals in the same regions to include the Bundesliga, Lique 1, Serie A and the FA Cup, Championship and Capital One Cup in England, as well as the Brazilian Championship and Major League Soccer (MLS). News Corp is clearly lifting its investments into its sports digital portfolio. It will be interesting to see how these and television rights get ‘played out’ across the print media of the company – sport is becoming the blockbuster.
And in Australia, with the pressures from Fox and News as well as the troubled state of the major free-to-air channels, for sure big changes are coming.
The latest edition of “Back on the Block”, talking about the business of events, is available at http://eepurl.com/D88TL