Streaming broadcasts aren’t much of novelty, but they are still distant from the reality of most Brazilian sports fans. Although consumers in Brazil are used to services such as Netflix, NOW and Prime Video, they do not have the habit of consuming sports via streaming. This reality, however, is about to change. With the pressing need to boost the Brazilian sports market, new players may be the answer that this market needed to adapt and grow.
Let’s consider football (or soccer, depending on where you are in the globe). As Brazil’s most popular national sport, it’s a dream for any streaming platform that wants to venture into the Brazilian market. There is just one problem – the stiff negotiation model for games transmission has been the same for decades. TV Globo has a monopoly and streaming of matches are limited to subscribers of its Pay-Per-View cable channel. Investors interested in acquiring the most valuable national sports product would have to face strong resistance from traditional media. At the same time, other sports barely have any television time and depend on limited paid TV and the sponsorship of public and private institutions to survive. And it’s the best gateway to the Brazilian market.
A closer look at the current situation and how streaming can help the sports industry.
The most-watched sport in Brazil is held hostage by an antiquated system that binds clubs to very long exclusivity contracts with broadcasters since no league exists to represent their interests, such as Premier League, Bundesliga or Major League Soccer. Despite the good ratings, a closer look proves that this exclusivity with television broadcasters does not allow clubs to explore new ways of doing business, create categories to sell other sponsorship quotas, and design more modern marketing campaigns. Perhaps the best example is how clubs can’t even explore their own stadiums since the visual communication needs to meet the standards set by the broadcaster. An emblematic case is Allianz Parque, a stadium located in São Paulo and home to Palmeiras, one of the biggest clubs in Brazil. The broadcaster refuses to say the name “Allianz,” claiming it would be free advertising for a brand that does not pay for media exposure in their channel. This attitude is not only controversial for the broadcaster but also devalues Brazilian football, as it doesn’t motivate investors to make big investments in the national sport.
Without an established League to defend the common interests of football clubs, alternative models for the sports industry are coming from secondary sports, such as basketball and volleyball. The most prominent case is the National Basketball League which went from the verge of bankruptcy in 2008 to an impressive example of sports management and the most developed league in Brazil. The sport became professionalized and the Brazilian league partnered with the renowned American NBA. The national competition NBB (New Basketball Brazil) adopted a multichannel approach, making agreements with important partners so that matches could be transmitted on all possible platforms. Today, Brazilian basketball is broadcast on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube but also on television channels, including pay television, proving that traditional and digital media can coexist and share transmission of a product. This gave the NBB a lot of visibility on social networks, where it also self-promoted and allowed its trading partners to benefit from the exposure.
With so many ways to watch the games remotely, did the stadiums during games get empty? Absolutely not. The NBB adopted the American concept of turning matches into big events with musical attractions. It’s already a dream for any sports fan. For basketball fans, it’s a lifestyle. In Brazil, this desire is only amplified as eager audiences are yearning for quality sports events.
NBB’s greatest victory was learning from their mistakes, an attitude we now begin to see in football. In recent years, some clubs have stood out for their professional management, prioritizing long-term planning and sustainable accounting. Marketing departments were given more freedom to explore new ways of working the brand and look for partners willing to sponsor future actions.
Broadcasting sports via streaming!
The movement of sports broadcasting via streaming is irreversible. In the United States, the model is already so consolidated that even social networks have become players in this market. Today, the NFL, the nation’s most important and lucrative sports league, shares its broadcast rights per day, with each television channel and streaming platform entitled to one day of exclusivity. With this format, there is no conflict of interest between digital media and television. CBS, FoxSports, ESPN, and NBCUniversal share the broadcast rights, including using their digital platforms. In Brazil, apart from cable TV, it is possible to watch the NFL on Prime Video, Amazon’s streaming platform with a vast catalogue of movies, series, and original productions. In Europe, Facebook recently acquired the rights to broadcast Premier League to Asia and La Liga to India.
Other major leagues in the United States, such as the NBA and the MLS, are choosing to launch their streaming platforms. In both cases, fans can subscribe to an all-season broadcast service, with access to live matches, highlights, and exclusive content. All games are saved and available in full at any time. Towards the middle of the year, the platform offers a discount for the season.
In football, UEFA has taken steps in this direction by launching its platform with extra content. Aware that the sale of rights to television channels around the world still accounts for most of their revenue, UEFA wants to use its platform to promote smaller competitions such as the women’s and youth championships, and also behind-the-scenes footage, key summarised matches, and exclusive content.
The most shocking news for the Brazilian market may have been the acquisition of the rights to broadcast the UEFA Champions League by Facebook instead of Globo, who did not even enter the auction due to the high costs of maintaining all their other tournaments. Facebook and Globo had previously competed for the rights for the Copa Libertadores in Brazilian territory, showing that digital platforms are here to stay and have the means to match traditional broadcasters.
In Brazil, there is room to follow in the footsteps of the NFL and UEFA, who negotiated part of their rights for digital platforms. With the appearance of new subscription services for online content from cable channels, such as Fox and Disney, it’s only a matter of time before Brazilians walk away from subscription TV. Anyone who knows how to meet the needs of consumers, without harming television and making the transition as smoothly as possible, will be the first to pioneer a rich and yet unexplored road in the Brazilian sports market.