Thursday December 7, 2023

Will Sports Benefit From New Streaming Alliance?

  • Advocacy group involves many of sports streaming's largest players
  • Effort builds amid period of historic media disruption
Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK
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Some of the largest sports streamers in the industry have united to create a lobbying unit amid a period of historic media disruption.

A group of 17 entities including Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max, NBCUniversal’s Peacock, Paramount+, and Netflix — which collectively hold live streaming rights with the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAA, Premier League, PGA Tour, and numerous other properties, along with a big sports documentary presence  — have formed the Streaming Innovation Alliance.

The group aims to form a collective voice when lobbying before government entities for more streaming-friendly regulation.

While not specifically a sports-related endeavor, sports programming stands to be among the most affected from this alliance given its increasingly unique ability to aggregate mass audiences. Most recently, Max unveiled its plan to make sports central to that service.

“Video streaming services do not use public rights of way, airwaves, or spectrum, and are not subject to the kinds of regulation and taxation historically reserved for services to offset their use of those public goods,” the alliance said. “Streaming is something new and different, and should be governed by innovative, tailored approaches.”

The creation of the group closely follows an unprecedented inflection point in U.S. media patterns in July, when American usage of broadcast and linear pay television fell below 50% of all TV consumption for the first time.

The alliance also differs from the normal market dynamics in which these streaming entities compete heavily for live sports rights, subscribers, and market share. 

Notable Absences

The group doesn’t include some major players in sports, including Apple, Amazon, Google’s YouTube, and Roku, which collectively stream major properties such as the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football,” MLB, and MLS, and are also on the hunt for additional live rights.

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