FIFA+ could be a trendsetter for the sports industry if the platform can attract global interest, says GlobalData

The nature of sports broadcasting has been evolving for many years, with a growing trend of streaming platforms acquiring key media rights, while some organizations including FIFA have begun launching their own over-the-top (OTT) platforms. With the younger generations of sport more likely to gravitate towards online viewing, platforms have taken note of this, with an ever-increasing amount of sport now available to watch online through OTT subscriptions, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

FIFA+ is a new streaming platform that will provide access to thousands of different soccer leagues and matches around the world for free. The platform will also provide documentaries and features on some of the sport’s most iconic players and stories.

GlobalData’s latest report ‘Strategic Partnerships in Sport – Thematic Research’ reveals that the adoption of OTT platforms among US households is rising, with approximately 82% now having at least one OTT subscription, up from 76% the year before. A turning point in the shift towards OTT platforms was the $130 million deal for Amazon to stream 11 regular-season NFL games.

Tanveer Aujla, Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “As one of the more prominent governing bodies in the world of sport, the launch of FIFA+ could be a trendsetter for the rest of the industry depending on its success. Streaming platforms are renowned for their convenience and accessibility anywhere, and FIFA+ could be instrumental in introducing lesser-known leagues to a more mainstream audience.”

However, for FIFA+ to be deemed a success, FIFA will likely have to make some kind of financial profit with the platform, which seems somewhat at odds with the platform’s intention of providing massively accessible coverage for over 44,000 games over the next year.

Aujla continues: “For FIFA+ to work, the organization will have to do a good job marketing content that might not be as immediately interesting as some of the sport’s top leagues, such as the Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A. The service will be free to all with revenue coming solely from advertising. The fact that this is the sole revenue stream could be a concern financially, as without high viewing numbers, the platform won’t make money. It remains to be seen whether FIFA will change its strategy to a subscriber based model if things don’t go as anticipated, but this could potentially be a viable alternative, depending on the initial interest fans show in the platform.”

If FIFA+ can turn itself into a success, then there’s a chance that other leagues and organizations follow suit. The best way to maximise profits is to increase interest, and one of the easier ways to do that is to make large libraries of content accessible to fans as, according to GlobalData’s report, 82% of Americans have only kept their traditional subscriptions purely to watch live sporting events.

Aujla notes: “Leagues such as the NBA and the NFL have seen significant success with their own streaming platforms, with NBA League Pass helping to drive global interest in basketball. Some of the league’s European stars including Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic have helped boost viewing numbers for the platform. GlobalData’s report also revealed that in 2019, Jokic provided a 400% increase in users from his native Serbia, while Doncic influenced a 186% rise in users from his home country of Slovenia. This alone is evidence that sports can benefit from increased streaming services, and FIFA+ could be the start of a major shift in the sports broadcasting industry.”

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