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EDITOR’S BLOG 02-06-16 UEFA Cup: TV’s last great sporting moment?

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Skeldon2014BWsmallFootball’s UEFA European Championships starts in just over a week and, while England is likely to break many hearts as they do in every major tournament, some things about sport may be less reliable. Could this, in fact, be the last major sporting event to be aired primarily on TV?

La Liga became the first European football league to globally broadcast a match on Facebook Live this past weekend. The NFL has gone even further, with its agreement with Twitter, who will broadcast ten games this year on that platform.

Already many Sports bodies are starting to see that TV is not the be all and end all that it once was in terms of screening big tickets events.

Similarly, TV companies are also seeing the writing on the wall. BT Sport may well have spent a record £897 million for Champions League and Europa League TV rights, but it made the unprecedented move to partner with YouTube to air both finals for free.

But this move towards replatforming of sport is just the tip of a very big iceberg. Consumers are very much moving away from traditional channels when it comes to consuming any kind of content. A recent study by Apteligent suggests that a third of millennials already consume more than 50% of their ‘media’ – and that means news, sports, games and entertainment – through mobile. Even us oldies are increasingly doing so, picking up whatever device happens to suit and tuning in at a time of our choosing.

But how can this be monetized? The obvious way is through some sort of subscription pioneered by the likes of BT Sport and Sky where you pay to access their content through the various channels they offer.

But BT is, as we have seen, putting Champions and Europa League finals up on YouTube for free – for everyone. Clearly, this is a loss leader to get people used to the fact that sport isn’t tied to TV in the traditional way, but still it will face a need to charge for content access in the future.

The obvious choice is to look at how carrier billing and other alternative m-payments technologies can be brought to bear on this. There is already a drive by media companies to look at alternative ways to get people to pay. Paywalls stalled and now ad-blocking threatens ad-funded content models. The only thing that is left is for micropayments at the consumer level for these bits of content, be they news stories or a UEFA cup group stage England defeat.

This is move to new ways that consumers consume is potentially a vital fillip for telemedia – and something that we shall be exploring in great depth at World Telemedia Marbella on the 18-20 October. We have been here before with paywalls, but while many media and TV companies assumed there must be better ways to do it, they are now back to square one. And carrier billing has the potential to make this happen.

The UK MNOs may not want to play – much like our national team – but elsewhere I think there is going to be a push towards more carrier billing for media content on mobile. How the next UEFA cup will look is anyone’s guess, but I bet you it will be very different from how we shall be watching it this year. May the best team win.

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