Neulion Rebranded to Endeavor Streaming, Snatches WWE from Disney’s BamTech Media

Backend tech support for streaming video is becoming big business.

Endeavor Talent Agency, whose subsidiaries include William Morris Endeavor, IMG, and Ultimate Fighting Championship, announced the formation of Endeavor Streaming, encompassing the company’s video streaming products and services.

The over-the-top video venture is driven by Neulion, which Endeavor acquired in 2018 for $250 million.

NeuLion, which provides backend support for live-sports streaming, is being absorbed within the new group alongside Endeavor’s internally developed video platform technology, and now operates under the Endeavor Streaming moniker.

Endeavor Streaming provides backend tech support for the NFL, NBA, UFC, and Euroleague. Notably, the platform just signed professional wrestling brand WWE away from Disney’s BamTech Media.

BamTech, which Disney acquired for about $3 billion, provides streaming tech support for ESPN+, HBO Now, PlayStation Vue, The Blaze and WatchESPN, among other services. It will also power Disney’s upcoming branded SVOD service.

With more than 1.6 million subscribers, WWE Network is one of the largest sports-entertainment OTT platforms in the world. Endeavor also supports U.K.-based BT and its new service, BT Sport Box Office; and OSN, the Middle East and North Africa’s entertainment network.

Endeavor Streaming will be co-led by chief technology officer Nick Wilson and president of business operations Will Staeger. Staeger previously served as SVP within IMG’s original content division following time at ESPN, WWE, and Dick Clark Productions.

“We’ve integrated Endeavor’s scalable platform with NeuLion’s industry leading technology and feature set to provide clients with the best tools and services in video streaming, removing technology as a barrier in reaching their consumers,” Wilson and Staeger said in a co-statement.

Endeavor Streaming will continue servicing major media providers, including Univision, Sportsnet, Sky Sports, MSG, National Geographic, and Big Ten Network. The group will also continue supporting Endeavor properties like PBR (Ride Pass) and UFC (UFC.tv and Fight Pass).

The platform recently streamed “UFC 229: Khabib vs. McGregor,” and received the “OTT TV Service of the Year” award at the Content Innovation Awards ahead of MIPCOM for its work on the NBA League Pass International product.

Meanwhile, the group has launched several new consumer products, including “Serie A Pass” and “Strive,” the latter of which features action from both Serie A and La Liga, Italy and Spain’s professional soccer leagues, respectively.

 

 

Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson Ready for First-Ever PPV Golf Match

Move over boxing and mixed-martial arts fighting, golf superstars Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have upped their trash-talk and respective contributions to charities ahead of the Nov. 23 first-of-its-kind pay-per-view golf match over 18 holes at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas. The winner takes home $9 million.

With much of America dealing with the Black Friday retail event, golf fans (largely male) can pay $19.95 to watch the sport’s two biggest names without leaving the couch.

Capital One’s The Match: Tiger vs. Phil begins at 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET. Woods and Mickelson will take to the course at noon PT/3 p.m. ET.

It will be available on DirecTV, AT&T U-verse, Comcast, Charter, Cox, Verizon and Altice (U.S.), Rogers, Shaw and Bell (Canada), Turner International (outside U.S. and Canada).

For Woods, the event is the culmination of 2017-18 season that has seen the sport’s former lone superstar rebound from No. 668 in the world rankings to No. 13 over the course of 18 events – including seven top-10 finishes and his first win in five years — at the Tour Championship in late September.

Mickelson, ranked 27th in the world, scored his first Tour win since 2013 at the WGC-Mexico Championship.

Both players and their respective caddies will wear microphones, and the broadcast will include real-time, hole-by-hole statistics to forecast certain outcomes during the match.

Being Las Vegas, MGM Resorts Race & Sports Books will offer real-time odds, money-lines and other information about the golfers’ performances.

The players can also make side challenges, such as who’ll be closest to the pin, whether one can make a putt from 10 feet away or the chances of getting up and down from a certain location on the course.

Money from side wagers will be donated to the winning golfer’s chosen charity.

Drone camera coverage will be provided, as will slow-motion cameras, golf animations and both real-time trajectories and flight paths for each shot.

 

WWE Eyes Uptick in Q3 Media Revenue, Including Home Video

World Wrestling Entertainment Oct. 25 reported a 9% increase in third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) media revenue to $142.1 million from $130.8 million.

The increase was due in part to the contractual escalation of core content rights fees, namely license fees associated with original programs, “Raw” and “Smack Down,” as well as the monetization of “Miz & Mrs,” the original series that debuted on USA Network, and the season eight premiere of “Total Divas.”

Other sources of media revenue include distribution of scripted, reality and other in-ring programming, as well as theatrical and direct-to-home video releases.

Indeed, the “other” category of media revenue topped $11.7 million, up 28.5% from revenue of $9.1 million during the previous-year period.

The growth in media revenue reflected increased sales of advertising and sponsorships across platforms, and the continued growth of WWE Network– the over-the-top video service that posted a 9% increase in average paid subscribers to more than 1.66 million.

Comcast and ESPN Announce Launch of Sports Networks on Xfinity X1

Comcast and ESPN Sept. 5 announced the launch of ESPN3, ACC Network Extra and SEC Network + on Xfinity X1, giving sports fans the ability to stream over the Internet, directly on their television, coverage of college football with more than 150 live games, and more than 5,000 live events annually, including international soccer, Grand Slam tennis matches, college basketball and other collegiate athletics.

All content from across the three networks will be searchable with Comcast’s X1 voice remote and integrated into the same screens and menus as the other sports programming that comes with a customer’s Xfinity TV subscription, according to the announcement.

“Simplicity continues to be essential in today’s dynamic media landscape,” said Sean Breen, SVP, affiliate sales, Disney and ESPN Media Networks, in a statement. “We’re fortunate to have relationships with Comcast to seamlessly serve customers and sports fans on a platform that delivers the best of both traditional and digital video viewing experiences, and the addition of ESPN3, ACC Network Extra and SEC Network + are perfect examples of that.”

“From football and soccer to volleyball and field hockey, this launch gives college sports fans incredible access to live events from schools including Florida State, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh in the ACC, Alabama, Georgia and Texas A&M in the SEC, and dozens more from across the entire country on ESPN3,” said Vito Forlenza, executive director, TV Everywhere content and product strategy, Comcast Cable, in a statement. “ESPN3, ACC Network Extra and SEC Network + add a new dynamic to the already deep catalog of sports programming that’s currently available on X1. Combined with universal voice control and the X1 sports app, we are providing customers with the richest, most immersive sports viewing experience in the country.”

With the three new networks customers can:

  • find live coverage from ESPN3, ACC Network Extra and SEC Network + intermixed alongside other live sporting events showcased within X1’s sports destination;
  • get access to the Xfinity Sky Cam’s live game feeds providing exclusive angles and commentary;
  • by saying “ESPN3,” “ACC Network Extra” or “SEC Network +” into the X1 voice remote discover everything available to watch live from the networks;
  • by asking for a specific team such as “Clemson Football” quickly access a team summary, including its current record and conference standing, and see a list of upcoming games airing across any network;
  • while watching the networks’ live online coverage on X1, follow along with real-time updates and data via the platform’s sports companion app for more than a dozen conferences such as the Atlantic Coast Conference, Southeastern Conference, American Athletic Conference, Mid-American Conference and Conference USA; and
  • by saying, for example, “University of Connecticut Huskies Basketball Score,” get real-time scoring updates of the current game and the ability to tune-in live if it’s available to stream;

ESPN3, ACC Network Extra and SEC Network + are available on all eligible X1 set top boxes with Xfinity TV and Internet service.

World Cup Soccer Helps Double Q2 Global Streaming Video Consumption

Spurred by the FIFA Russia World Cup 2018 quadrennial soccer competition, global streaming video consumption in the second quarter (ended June 30) topped 5.5 billion hours, up 115% from 2.5 billion hours in the previous-year period, according to new data from Conviva.

The media-measurement firm said a record-breaking 7.9 million people streamed the France vs. Argentina World Cup match on June 30. The quarter saw 17.2 billion total streaming video plays across 973 million apps with as many as 7.9 million concurrent streams.

North America continues to lead in OTT video consumption with 69.2% market share, followed by Europe (15%), Asia (14.2%) and the rest of the world (ROW) at 1.2%.

Streaming hours increased 139% in North America; 90% in ROW; 32% in Europe and 22% in Asia.

Conviva also measured which devices are used to stream and found that in Q2 there continued to be a shift away from PCs (24% of plays) towards mobile devices (49% of plays), especially for short-form content. On the other hand, long-form content consumption shifted toward larger screens via connected TV platforms such as Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast, which accounted for 51% of total viewing hours.

Among connected TV platforms, Roku continued to lead with 22% of all viewing hours and 8% of all plays. Meanwhile, Xbox, Google’s Chromecast, and Amazon’s Fire TV all showed tremendous gains, experiencing more than two times video consumption compared to the same period a year ago.

“The demand for streaming TV globally is growing at a stunning rate,” Bill Demas, CEO of Conviva, said in a statement. “Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV are leading the connected TV charge with growth and share of engagement.”

CBS All Access Extends NFL Streaming Through 2022

CBS All Access, the subscription VOD service, has extended an agreement to stream all “NFL on CBS” telecasts through the 2022 season. CBS will also expand NFL game streaming access for CBS All Access subs and TV Everywhere to include mobile devices beginning this season.

Previously, only Verizon had streaming access to NFL games — including the Super Bowl – on mobile devices. CBS began streaming NFL games to CBS All Access on during the 2016 season.

The entire 2018 “NFL on CBS” schedule, including Super Bowl LIII, will also be streamed live on tablets via the CBS App for iOS, Android and Windows 10, online at CBS.com, and on connected devices including Roku Players, Apple TV, Chromecast, Android TV, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Fire TV, Samsung Smart TVs and Amazon Channels.

All Access subscribers will receive the NFL ON CBS games that are broadcast in their local market.

In addition to extending CBS All Access streaming rights to mobile devices for the first time, NFL ON CBS authenticated streaming rights will extend to mobile for its cable, satellite, telco and vMVPD partners beginning this season.

“This deal enables us to deliver even more value to NFL fans, our subscribers and our distribution partners,” Marc DeBevoise, COO, CBS Interactive, said in a statement.

“The 2018 season will mark a new era for NFL fans with unprecedented access to NFL games across digital platforms,” said Hans Schroeder, COO of NFL Media and Business.

In addition to the NFL, CBS All Access offers more than 10,000 on-demand episodes spanning current shows from CBS Television’s primetime, daytime and late night lineup, as well as past seasons of select series and classic TV hits.

Exclusive original series include “Star Trek : Discovery,” “The Good Fight,” “Strange Angel,” and “No Activity,” in addition to upcoming original series, “One Dollar,” “The Twilight Zone,” and “Tell Me a Story.”

 

Irdeto Data Finds Nearly 5 Million Illegal Streamers During UEFA Champions League Knockout Stages

As the football world gears up for the showdown between Liverpool and Real Madrid in this weekend’s UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) Champions League Final, data from Irdeto reveals that a total of 5,100 unique illegal streams were detected redistributing games over the internet during this year’s Champions League knockout stages. Of this total, 2,093 streams were detected across social media channels including Periscope, Facebook and Twitch and are estimated to have reached nearly 5 million (4,893,902) viewers.

“The viewing figures combined with the number of UEFA Champions League streams detected across a variety of channels suggests that more needs to be done to stop the illegal distribution of high profile live European football matches,” according to an Irdeto release.

Web-based streams continue to be the main vehicle for illegal distribution of these matches, with 2,121 web-based streams detected (of the total 5,100 streams), according to the Irdeto data. However, this was closely followed by social media, where potential advertising revenue drives criminals to illegally stream premium sports.

Pirates also took advantage of illicit streaming plugins for Kodi, the popular media player, with 886 streams identified on this platform, according to Irdeto.

“Criminals have targeted premium sports content such as the European Champions League and are earning a fortune from stealing the rights,” said Rory O’Connor, SVP of cybersecurity services at Irdeto. “This makes it crucial for content owners, rights holders and platform owners to work together and enlist technology and proactive services to take down streams in real-time. The criminals who profit from these illegal streams have little regard for their viewers and are exposing them to cybercrime, inappropriate content and malware infection. Also, viewers of illegal content can face criminal penalties if they decide to share content with friends on social media.”

Pirates create professional-looking websites and services designed to fool consumers into thinking they are viewing legitimate content, according to Irdeto. In the case of the Champions League, the team most targeted by illegal streamers was Roma, with 1,476 streams detected for their matches. This was followed by Real Madrid (1,354 streams), Liverpool (1,252 streams) and Bayern Munich (977 streams). The second leg semi-final Roma vs. Liverpool was the most-streamed match, with 405 illegal streams, representing a potential loss of revenue to clubs and the competition.

The viewership of illegal streams on social media followed a similar pattern. However, Real Madrid was the most viewed team, with 2,856,011 viewers of illegal social media streams of their games throughout the knock-out competition. The most illegally viewed match through social media streams was the Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich Semi-Final second leg, which received an estimated 709,393 viewers. Based on the average Pay TV subscription prices in Europe this could represent a loss of more than 14 million Euros per month or 170 million Euros on an annual basis.

Mixed Martial Arts League Goes OTT

Upstart mixed martial arts fight organization, the Professional Fighters League, April 30 announced a technology agreement to bring over-the-top video, including in-depth athlete stories, streaming video and 360-degree comprehensive coverage across all digital platforms, including mobile devices.

Launched in 2012 as the World Series of Fighting, the PFL is using backend video technology from ViewLift to power its digital platforms and bring MMA action, behind-the-scenes footage and statistics and metrics to fans worldwide.

“We are committed to presenting mixed martial arts in innovative ways that capture the full spectrum of talent, athleticism and action that PFL athletes bring to the cage, CEO Peter Murray said in a statement. “We will create a direct connection between PFL, its fighters and its partners and millions of loyal MMA fans.”

Professional Fighters League events and fights will be streamed live and on demand on pflmma.com and the PFL apps, broadcast live in primetime on NBC Sports Network, and streamed live globally on Facebook Watch. The PFL 2018 Season debuts June 7 from Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden and consists of seven regular season events, three “win or go home” playoff events, and concludes with the $10 million PFL championship event on Dec. 31.

“We love the intersection of sports and technology,” said Rick Allen, CEO of ViewLift.

Mixed martial arts fans will be able to watch all PFL regular season, playoff, and championship fights—over 66 hours of live action—for free. In the United States, all of the PFL regular season events will air live on Thursday in primetime exclusively on NBCSN, and stream live on NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app, pflmma.com and the PFL apps. All regular season events will have encore telecasts on NBCSN later the same night.

Outside the U.S., Facebook will stream up to six hours of free, live coverage for each event. In the U.S., fans can watch the first three hours of coverage of each event on Facebook and continue to watch the rest of the card on NBCSN. Prior to the bell, fans can learn more about the PFL, the fighter roster and the personal stories of PFL fighters at PFLmma.com.