Are Sports Franchises Dominating the Highly Competitive Streaming Market?

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Live sports have dominated the Broadcast/Cable ratings in recent years, so will they have the same advertising impact with Streaming? Advertisers face hurdles in finding innovative and effective ways to make their messaging stand out. This is where the demand for live sports has surged among streaming services, owing to their ability to reach a vast and engaged audience across multiple devices.

The fight for coverage rights has begun as seen by deals that landed Thursday Night Football (NFL) on Amazon Prime, Friday Night Baseball (MLB) on Apple TV+, and NFL Sunday Ticket on YouTube TV.

Using E-Score Brand, we formulated a Sports Franchise Index (SFI) to identify the strongest mix of performance markers worth investing in among the 18-49 demographic.

Sports Franchise Index SFI: Proprietary algorithm that combines Awareness, Appeal, Advocacy, Consideration, Halo Effect (Popular w/people I know), and key brand Attributes.

ESTABLISHED: SFI > 100 / High Awareness

NBA (National Basketball Association): 124 SFI

  • It’s not surprising to see the NBA post the highest SFI. The league has plenty of star power and an entertaining style of play to attract viewers for years to come. The NBA is the last of the big 4 leagues with media rights up for negotiations (current deals end in 2025). Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery will have the first crack to try and renew their deals with the league and major streamers (Apple, Netflix) are already expressing interest in placing a bid.
  • here are also some other key factors that make the NBA an enticing long-term play for streaming suitors:
    • Strong global presence – The league is full of international stars including NBA Champion and Finals MVP, Nikola Jokic (Serbia), and MVP Joel Embiid (Cameroon). There is also the move to cultivate new markets to help develop international talent such as the establishment of the Basketball Africa League.
    • Cultural phenomenon – The league and players have been at the forefront of many of the hottest pop culture trends such as streetwear, the sneaker culture, hip-hop music, fashion & style, and video gaming.
    • Player empowerment – The NBA supports and amplifies player voices, especially on social justice issues and charitable causes, fostering a stronger connection with fans.
    • Staying ahead of the curve – Innovation when it comes to fan engagement is one of the NBA’s biggest strengths. Using social media and streaming content to better connect with younger fans, embracing sports betting as tool to enhance the fan experience, and using AR/VR technology to create immersive fan experiences.

UP & COMERS: SFI > 100 / Lower Awareness

AEW (All Elite Wrestling): 112 SFI

  • In just four years, AEW has emerged as a popular and competitive alternative to WWE, captivating audiences worldwide. For streaming services, AEW offers the opportunity to add content from an emerging sport that has a passionate fan base both domestically and internationally. Other factors that add value to securing streaming rights include:
    • Passionate fan base – Streamers can look to add new subscribers by tapping into the AEW built-in fan base that is still growing and hungry for content.
    • Global reach – AEW has used cross-promotion events to help expand into new markets globally. Popular partnerships include Japan’s NJPW, Mexico’s AAA, and China’s OWE.
    • Exclusive content – AEW offers a wealth of content to appeal to fans such as behind-the-scenes shows and documentaries that are in addition to all the live events. The recently re-branded Max streaming service will start streaming the reality show AEW All Access in June 2023.
    • PPV – in 2022, AEW held 4 pay-per-view events and has plans to more than double that number by the end of 2023.

Looking to Rebound: LIV Golf (92 SFI) and PGA (47 SFI)

  • Both major golf franchises (PGA, LIV Golf) under-indexed on the SFI, but the recent announcement of a new global golf tour that merges the rivals together may be what helps re-energize the sport among consumers. The consolidation of top players onto a single tour addresses the desire to witness the best competing against each other. Nevertheless, the new tour must address ongoing concerns raised by critics of LIV Golf regarding the involvement of the Saudi Arabian government in the sport. Additionally, reconciling with players who were vocal advocates for each side will be essential for a successful transition.

Because the highly competitive streaming market has led to the introduction of ad-supported plans by streaming services, advertisers are being pushed quickly to adapt and find new ways to stand out. Live sports content is proven to help with their ability to engage with a much wider audience across multiple devices. By using the Sports Franchise Index (SFI) developed with E-Score Brand, you can identify the top franchises worth investing in and stay one step ahead of the competition.

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