COVID-19 forces sports streaming providers to act fast

The COVID-19 pandemic has the focus of the world right now (and rightly so). The pandemic has massive global health and economic consequences, with all sorts of freedom of movement and other restrictions being imposed by governments worldwide.

Over the last week or so, we have seen (particularly, in the western world) a focus on banning large gatherings of people. This has inevitably led to the mass cancellations or postponements of sporting events, including the Australian F1 GP, PGA Tour Golf, NBA, ATP Tour tennis and more. These postponements/cancellations are having large knock-on effects, including for broadcasters of these sports.

At a time when available live sports content is dwindling (due to the postponements/cancellations), sports streaming services are having to come up with new ways to maintain or (hopefully) grow their user bases. This is the opposite to entertainment streaming services that you would expect to be registering a high number of streamed hours as more and more people are quarantined or just working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For sports streaming services, however, the inability to have live content, severely dents their offering to consumers.

Email to certain Kayo users

Taking a look at some examples of how sports streaming companies are responding:

  • in Australia – following F1’s decision to cancel the Australian F1 GP this weekend, Kayo, Australia’s premier multiple sport streaming platform, sent emails and texts to multiple users, stating that the next month’s bill will only by $5 rather than the usual $25
  • in Japan – global sports streamer DAZN and carmaker Honda struck a deal to offer new customers two months’ free membership to the streaming service (this announcement was then somewhat curtailed given that now the first three F1 races in 2020 have been cancelled. DAZN holds F1 rights in Japan).

“[With] a variety of sports all over the world under the influence of the coronavirus [not being] held as scheduled, we are pleased to be able to deliver the F1 live broadcast.

Martin Jones, DAZN’s executive vice president in Japan talking to SportsPro Media

It will be interesting to see how sports streaming numbers hold-up during this COVID-19 pandemic period but the responses by companies such as DAZN and Streamotion (Kayo’s operator) show that these companies are on the pulse in trying to stay a viable option for consumers during these challenging times.

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