Turner readies pay-per-game sports streaming service
- Turner Sports announced a new streaming service of thousands of live sporting events that lets fans purchase and view individual games or on a subscription basis in a "flexible pricing" system, according to a press release. Starting in April, viewers can scroll through a feed of real-time events and see aggregate live sports content that's personalized to each user based on their past viewing habits.
- The "Bleacher Report Live" platform will show additional sports content from UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, the PGA Championship, National Lacrosse League, the Spring League pro-football scouting event, Red Bull Global Rallycross and World Arm Wrestling League. NBA League Pass, which streams out-of-market games, will let fans buy and watch live games in progress at a reduced price, starting in the 2018-19 regular season.
- In a move to attract users in Bleacher Report Live's first few months, Turner is letting fans stream the content for free during a preview period until it puts up a paywall this summer, per Variety. The service will launch on iOS, Android and the web.
While the opportunities for brands to sponsor Turner's programming weren't discussed in the Bleacher Report Live announcement, it's not hard to imagine the possibilities for spot placements in video streams. Turner, which acquired Bleacher Report in 2012, is adapting to the age of cord-cutting and streaming video on mobile devices with the upcoming debut of its new platform with flexible pricing options and nontraditional sports content, such as professional arm wrestling.
Creating content strategies around micro-transactions like purchasing individual games highlights how broadcasters are adapting to fans' changing viewing habits. Instead of watching a full live televised game on cable packages, viewers are increasingly choosing to watch on their own terms, which often means using multiple screens, social media or online streaming platforms. Turner's plan to offer in-progress NBA games at a reduced price appears to recognize that consumers want greater flexibility when it comes to consuming content, perhaps to catch the final quarter of a key game by making a micro-payment of 99 cents to see it. Consumers' top reason for canceling pay TV was the high cost of cable and satellite services, according to a new report by TiVo.
Bleacher Report Live comes as rival ESPN prepares for the April debut of ESPN+, a video streaming service that costs $4.99 a month. The service plans to offer live games and events that aren't available on national TV, including MLB, NHL, tennis, rugby and cricket, per CNN. However, it remains to be seen how many people will sign up for a service that doesn't show the big games featured on traditional ESPN networks. Viewers still need to have a subscription to cable or another service to see NFL, and marquee NBA and college football matchups. That limited offering may not be enough reason for people to cut the cord entirely.