This season, the entry of Amazon and Eleven Sports has drastically altered the UK’s football broadcasting landscape, something that could have a significant impact on the betting interests of the UK audience.
Whilst Amazon’s stake is in the Premier League, it’s spread over just two game rounds and is therefore unlikely to have a major impact on betting patterns. On the other hand, Eleven Sports has captured the full rights to Serie A and La Liga, two leagues which hold significant betting value for UK operators, that are likely to be keeping a close eye on how the broadcaster utilises the rights.
Something that’s noticeable immediately with regards to the way that the broadcaster, who are owned by Leeds United chairman Andrea Radrizzani, is streaming football this season, is that the platform is solely available through the firm’s mobile app or website and not through a TV channel, something that’s likely to be an burden for an older generation of fans.
Abelson Info’s Jeevan Jeyaratnam commented: “There’s a strong positive correlation between betting revenue and viewer accessibility, so there is little doubt that La Liga and Serie A, both previously providing very strong betting interest, will suffer from the highly questionable decision to sell the rights to an unestablished (in the UK) service. With no apparent platform, bar Facebook and its own internet sites/apps it is a highly damaging move for the leagues.”
Analysing the current climate for football broadcasting in the UK and how we ended up in this situation, he continued: “BT and Sky are quite right to not overpay for these leagues, and so you have to wonder how Eleven Sports can possibly justify paying such huge fees. Their advertising revenue and viewership figures are guaranteed to be far, far less than established commercial platforms, and this should concern the leagues that have sold their soul for a short-term monetary boost.
“Eleven Sports, in their communication thus far, have continually espoused that they are still trying to arrange a platform deal in the UK, likely to be through Sky/BT/Virgin, but the lack of any such deal suggests that those firms are not simply not like-minded to comply. It’s hard to blame them.”
Eleven Sports also broadcast US PGA Championship golf, however Jeyaratnam outlined that the overriding reaction to the coverage was one of “dismay”, adding: “If Eleven Sports are to make it until the end of their first season they are going to have to substantially improve their act.”
Looking ahead, he shared his anticipation for how the established broadcasters could still come into the mix before the season’s culmination. He said: “There is a chance that this experiment will backfire and BT Sports or Sky will end up picking the pieces up for a knockdown rate, it may be a waiting game tactic from them, both knowing their EPL & Champions League coverage is important enough to maintain market share.
“The situation is a concern for the industry, as if few are watching, even fewer are recreationally betting.”
Last season, an average of 19 games were shown from Serie A and La Liga alone, that means with the broadcaster only planning to show up to 20 weekly live games and also acquiring the rights to the Dutch Eredivisie, Chinese Super League and Swedish Allsvenskan, there will be a noticeable reduction in the amount of live football on offer to a UK audience. That being said, the firm has continually vowed to ensure it brings the biggest games to the UK market.
Charlie McCann, Spokesman for BetVictor, gave us an insight into whether the alteration in streaming impacted betting figures in the opening weekend of the season: “These are early days, but we actually saw no impact on bet numbers in week one in the major European leagues despite the lack of coverage on BT Sport and Sky,” he said.
“Punters like to put their Real Madrid, Barcelona and PSG in their weekend accumulator and that was the case again this week. We don’t yet know what impact, if any, the lack of TV coverage – if that is still the case at the time – will have on El Clasico numbers and that might be a better barometer, but at this early stage of the European season there is no evidence – at least not within BetVictor- to suggest that the lack of TV coverage will have a negative impact on bet numbers.”