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FOX-owned RSNs drop puck on NHL in-market streaming, dynamic ad insertion


Theregional sports networks owned by 21st Century Fox Inc. will initiate their game coverageof the 2016-17 National Hockey League season with in-market streaming thismonth in a move that will "complete" the roster for Fox Sports Go, anexecutive said.

StartingOct 12, FOX Sports-owned RSNs will begin offering in-market streaming of NHLaction to authenticated subscribers who can watch on mobile devices, computersand tablets, via the FoxSportsGo streaming app. It will also mark the sportsprogrammer's official launch of dynamic ad insertion for its RSNs.

TheTV Everywhere rollout for the dozen RSNs that hold NHL rights comes as part ofmultiyear deal with the league and makes FOX the only U.S. operator of suchservices to proffer in-market streaming for the puck sport, as well as the NBAand MLB. Theprogrammer also offers streaming of the NFL, MLB, NASCAR , UFC, collegefootball and basketball, soccer and other national properties televised onFOX (US), as wellas FOX Sports 1(US) and FOX Sports2 (US).

"We'rereally excited. This completes the product offering for FoxSportsGo," saidClark Pierce, FOX Sports senior vice president, TV Everywhere, in an interview.

Thedeal, terms of which were not disclosed, enables the FOX-owned RSNs to deliverpre- and post-game shows and attendant NHL team programming, as well as encorerights.

"It'sa large percentage of our programming and you get a decent audience for thereplays," said Pierce. "It makes for a 24/7 service."

FOXRSNs hold local rights to NHL's Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, CarolinaHurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, FloridaPanthers, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, St. LouisBlues, and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Whetherother U.S.-based RSNs will deliver in-market, NHL streaming this seasonremained unclear at press time. The NHL did not respond to queries seekingcomment about its TV Everywhere progress.

Aspokesman for NBCUniversal MediaLLC's Comcast SportsNet services said the company in in talks withthe NHL and is hopeful an accord could be struck before the start of theseason. Comcast SportsNet regionals hold the rights to the Philadelphia Flyers,Washington Capitals, Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks games.

, which holdsthe rights to the New York Rangers and Islanders, New Jersey Devils andBuffalo Sabres,declined comment. NHL sources indicate that negotiations continue to stream thegames that are televised on MSG Network (US), but no deal is expected before theseason begins.

Sourcesfamiliar with the negotiations indicate RSNs must pay an annual rights fee tostream the clubs' games, as well as a vendor fee for infrastructure supportfrom BAMTech, the video streaming company that from MLB Advanced Media.Walt Disney Co. istaking a 33% stake in BAMTech, and the NHL a minority position.

MLBdid not reach TV Everywhere deals with other U.S.-based RSNs for the 2016season.

Underthe NHL pact, verified FOX RSN subscribers can stream the games within theteam's local market across myriad devices, including 's AppleTV, 's Fire TV, 's Chromecast andMicrosoft Corp.'sXbox One. Although some small cable companies are not yet on its TV Everywhereaffiliate roster, Pierce said FoxSportsGo has deals with the top 20 traditionaldistributors and is available in 95 million homes.

WhileFOX Sports has been integrating different ads into its national telecasts onthe broadcast network, FS1 and FS2, the use of dynamic ad insertion will openup a new revenue stream for the RSNs.

"It'sa good story for a sales team to present to advertisers/sponsors," saidPierce, noting that a deal with Chevrolet could see spots pitching a Corvetteor a minivan to different users. "We see TVE as additive/supportive to thelinear telecasts." Pierce said the TV Everywhere ads will comprise a mixof commercials running in the telecasts and streaming-dedicated spots.

FOXwill also deploy dynamic ad insertion during its fourth season of NBA in-marketstreaming for 17 clubs when the league tips off its 2016-17 campaign later thismonth, and with its second go-round with 15 MLB teams, come next April, Piercesaid.

Althoughhe didn't disclose specific usage numbers, Pierce said FoxSportsGo nettedstreamed gains over the course of this past summer's tournament andhas scored growth season-to-season with the NBA.

Heattributed the advances in part to fans familiarity with the TVE offering andoverall industry trends. "People expect to find the programming and streamit," he said. "They are more comfortable with set-up and providinglog-in credentials."

Inthe case of the NBA and MLB, Pierce said subscribers use FoxSportsGo at workand during their commutes for the start of games, and then turn to theirpreferred bigger screen when they get home. "We view it as additive inthat sense," he said.

Piercesaid FoxSportsGo also saw increased usage during tight NBA contests and thosethat went into overtime. "Fans who were out would find out that it's aclose game from friends or Twitter [Inc.] or other social media and then navigateto the device they're on, typically mobile," he explained, adding "itwill be interesting to see" if TV Everywhere usage rises during shootoutsthat determine some NHL games.