BT Sport: ‘Live streaming sports on social platforms is only commercially viable if they give us user data’

BT Sport believes live streaming sports only makes sense to commercial broadcasters if their rights are packaged as a data buy otherwise they are just giving lucrative content away for free.

BT Sport is gearing up for what has been one of its boldest, and potentially riskiest, moves in recent years; after paying £900m for the rights to the Champions League, it will live stream the all-important final for free on YouTube this weekend. The pay off? The data that YouTube has promised to give it on every single viewer that streams the game. This is the only way to make streaming sports on social sites commercially viable, according to Mike Norrish, the digital executive producer at BT Sport.

The pay-TV broadcaster confirmed earlier this month that it had inked a deal with YouTube to air the Champions League and Europa League finals, the latter of which was screened last week.

At the time the deal was announced, John Petter, chief executive of BT Consumer, said the move would “bring BT Sport to a new generation of younger sports fans” and that he wanted to make this the “most social sports broadcast ever”.

At the Shift London conference yesterday (24 May), Norrish revealed that getting senior buy-in for the strategy wasn’t straightforward and that giving the final away for free was initially met “with some opposition”.

It’s not clear what changed the opinion of senior stakeholders. Press speculation in light of the deal suggested it was sealed by the disappointing viewing figures of Champions League and Europe League (which at one point went from 4.4 million on ITV to just 200,000) might bear some truth. Norrish said it’s hoping to create a “national moment” during the Champions League final, like it saw when ITV held the rights.

But beyond that, there was the realisation that it could be a lucrative customer acquisition tool. Full terms of the deal have not been disclosed but it’s now understood that Google-owned YouTube will hand BT Sports data on every single viewer –  who it already knows will be a Champions League fan, a UK resident, and most likely a non-BT Sport subscriber – which it can then use in a two-pronged marketing attack.

Firstly, it will retarget them in the week following the final with BT Sports packages and offers. Then, in the lead up to the next season of football, with the Champions League rights still with BT Sport, those same people will be targeted with more special offers to sign up with the broadcaster.

Boiling down the strategy to its simplest form, Norrish said: “It’s a data buy, essentially.

… read on at

Originally posted by Jennifer Faull at The Drum
24th May 2016