Personal Announcement: Joining ONEFOOTBALL, the Future of OFFTHEFIELDBUSINESS.de & my Ambitions
JOINING ONEFOOTBALL GMBH
Recently, there was some big change in my professional life as I joined the digital media company ONEFOOTBALL GmbH as of the beginning of February. (Link)
After having finished my studies in Boston and spending a few months in New York, certainly THE place to be when it comes to everything „Sports Business, Media & More,“ in order to gain more insights into the in and outs of the industry, connect with interesting people, and figure out what I want to do next, I decided to make Berlin (Germany) my home base for the foreseeable future and actually never head back to the U.S. after having come to Germany for Christmas. Never heard about ONEFOOTBALL? The digital media company aims at becoming THE „All-in-One“ destination for every football fan: news, blogs, stats, highlights & live games. Especially their vision about the future of live football consumption got me really excited given the current disruption of the sports broadcasting market and changing consumption behaviours have been two trends which have played a prominent role in my blog posts over the last one-and-a-half years. Specifically, I will mainly focus on developing the direct-to-consumer OTT business for ONEFOOTBALL. Still not sure what ONEFOOTBALL is all about? In a nutshell, it is an app-first product that started out as „iLiga“ more than 10 years ago and has evolved into a global platform that covers over 100 international football leagues and competitions with millions of users in markets such as Germany, Brazil, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Argentina, or the United Kingdom. A recent deep-dive into the company’s past, present, and future by sports business publication SPONSORs or the in-depth interview with Founder & CEO Lucas von Cranach in the OMR Podcast provide a good overview of Onefootball and a glimpse into what the company is currently up to. For my English-speaking readers: Given that we have great ambitions for the future, we expect to make more announcements soon that will make waves beyond the German borders and results in some greater coverage of the company by international sports business outlets as well.
FUTURE OF OFFTHEFIELDBUSINESS.de
But let’s come back to how I will move forward with my online blog on which I tackled numerous topics across the sports business and media landscape over the last (almost) two years:
First and foremost, I continue to have ambitions to establish myself as some kind of a thought leader in the sports business and media industry - which, together with my conviction that I would be able to contribute interesting views and thoughts on current trends in this space, was the main reason to start OFFTHEFIELDBUSINESS.de in the first place. Therefore, there is no reason for stopping to share my views and trying to add to the discussion just because I „entered the workforce“ and have an exciting professional project ahead of me. Nonetheless, my day-to-day focus has certainly shifted from one day to next to bringing Onefootball's vision of the „all-in-one destination for football fans across the world“ into fruition. This will have three main implications moving forward:
First, being now privileged to information to which I was not before certainly limits the scope of topics I will be able to touch on (or recklessly speculate about) as before. However, it is for sure gratifying to see that many of my hypothesise that I have pushed on my blog or Twitter actually seem to materialize in the market place in realtime. (In fact, I am looking forward to pointing out my hits once they become public information. 😉 And probably gloss over those takes that I was completely wrong about. 😂)
Second, I will continue to sporadically touch on topics in which I continue to be the neutral observer like before. A good example was my recent post that tackled Formula One’s somewhat suspicious return to Sky Deutschland and the pay-TV ecosystem.
If you do not want to miss out on these pieces, you can sign up for my “Blog - Alert,” a short summary of what topics I just tackled and comes directly into your mailbox the second that a new post is up, 👉🏻 here.
Third, I would like to increasingly share my thoughts on current trends as well as the overall state of the sports media industry on third-party platforms such as print publications, events, or podcasts. My collaboration with the SPONSORs Magazine for a piece on the role of „Big-Tech“ in the upcoming media rights cycle of the Bundesliga („Sportrechte: So ticken Amazon, Facebook und Co.“, 02/2019) is one example for projects I would enjoy to do more of in the future. Therefore, I am also really excited to announce that I will join a discussion panel at the W&V Sportmarketing Summit 2019 on April 30th in Munich, tackling the question: „Immer nur Fußball oder wo ist das (Werbe-) Potential in der Nische?“ Thus, shameless plug to all the publishers out there: If you are interested in what I think about various topics across the sports business and media landscape, feel free to reach out via email@example.com. 😉
A LITTLE BIT OF SPORTS BUSINESS CONTENT
If you made it all the way through the entire personal stuff, I want to at least give some of the "usual stuff" before you go: I always prided my self on consistency. However, there has not been any edition of my weekly reading and podcast recommendations for the last six weeks despite no proper notice of what is actually going on. That does not mean that I did not collect my favourites every single week in the database (i.e. Pocket, a highly recommendad app). But adding them to the homepage of OFFTHEFIELDBUSINESS.de has always been cumbersome and time-consuming. Therefore, I did not post them anywhere (e.g. Twitter, Facebook) but the following links will bring you to the lists of my five favourite readings and podcasts for the last six weeks. Going forward, I will continue to tweet out the links to my favourites of the previous week and quick-and-dirty screenshot on Monday mornings.
You just have to go without the not-so-fancy graphic that came along with the tweets in the past. In general, Twitter (@yannickramcke) will certainly remain a place where I continue to share my thoughts on a constant basis since I really enjoy the platform (despite all its shortcomings) and can only recommend to every aspiring student or young professional to leverage the platform, either purely as a source of information or even to share own views and interact with other like-minded people.
Finally, let’s finish off with a feature that I used once or twice in the past to touch on a few interesting news that I tackled on Twitter over the recent days: „Final Hits“ - several topics, one sentence each.
PIRACY: CONFLICT OF INTERESTS FOR RIGHTS HOLDERS
Although piracy that undermines the integrity of media rights poses major threats to both rights buyers such as Sky Germany (in the short-term) and rights holders such as the DFL/Bundesliga (in the long-term), BeIN SPORTS as probably the most affected party in the short-term c/o beOutQ has been mainly on its own fighting the illegal distribution of their vast rights portfolio and rarely seen any support from the rights holder community (with LaLiga being a notable exception) that probably won’t see any major impact on its most valuable source of revenue at least until their media rights are up the next time around: Their conflict of interests (e.g. Formula One staging highly-profitable and much-needed races in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, both are allied to and certainly susceptible to pressure from the Saudi Government) seems to be an obvious reason for their inertia regarding these issues.
BIG-TECH: PAYING WITH A DIFFERENT KIND OF CURRENCY
There is the saying that “Data is the New Oil” and although even sports rights holders won’t deny the value of unprecedented insights into consumption behaviour, purchasing habits, and personal interests of their fans, primarily being paid by rights buyers by such non-monetary assets (e.g. reach, distribution, data) will be something they would have to get used to if they want to get into business with these large-scale digital platforms such as Facebook, Amazon & Co. and inevitably have to look for other revenue drivers than Big-Tech once their media rights are up for grabs the next time around.
VERTICAL INTEGRATION: TEAMS TRANSFORMING INTO FULLY-FLEDGED MEDIA COMPANIES
Sports leagues (e.g. MLB, NFL, NBA, LaLiga) launching their own direct-to-consumer OTT service has been a hot (overhyped?) topic as of late, but already back last summer I made the case for sports teams as well considering a vertical integration along the media value as the next big value driver as current media rights revenues, which have been the main catalyst for the skyrocketing team valuations over the past decade (e.g. value of average NBA team tripled over the last five years to +/- $1.9bn), possibly starting to plateau over the next few years: The Chicago Cubs (launching Marquee Sports Network in partnership with Sinclair Broadcast Group in 2020) and New York Yankees (buying back YES Network for $3.5bn, a discount compared to when Fox increased their stake in YES back in 2014 at $3.9bn - up from $3.4bn when the Yankees initially sold them a minority stake in 2012) obviously think that there is more money to make by taking command of a larger portion of the media chain.
BUNDESLIGA IN A LAME-DUCK SITUATION WITH FOX IN THE UNITED STATES
Enthusiasm was high back in 2013 when Bundesliga finally made the move from a niche sports channels to a new high-profile sports channel that was trying to unseat market incumbent ESPN and was looking for its first rights properties in the U.S. broadcasting market: TV distribution for the German top-flight competition in the U.S. jumped from only +/- 13m households (on GolTV) to (almost) +/- 85m by moving to newly-launched Fox Sports for the start of the 2015/16 season, but that is only true if their games are actually carried on their flagship channel FS1 (+/- 83m households). The sad reality, however, is that Bundesliga mostly ends up on FS2 (+/- 53m households) or the Deltatre-powered OTT service "Soccer Match Pass" ($140/season) as both the Bundesliga and Fox Sports seemingly cannot wait to move on once their original five-year deal expires after the 2020/21 season. The Bundesliga has become almost invisible in the U.S. as sports leagues compete for the limited time, mind, and wallet share of an ever-more elusive consumer in a fragmented sports media landscape (or world dominated by Netlfix and Fortnite).
DON’T UNDERESTIMATE GOODWILL BUILT UP BY AMAZON WITH DFL
An under-the-radar development which I tried to highlight in my extensive two-part column on the upcoming media rights tender of the Bundesliga (Part #1 & Part #2) has been both the financial (+/- €5m per season) as well as editorial (e.g. full live coverage of every game + prominent guest commentators) investments that Amazon has made into the audio commentary rights of the German top-flight league competition that - one has to assume - has created a lot of goodwill for the e-commerce giant in the eye of the DFL, which poses the question: After Facebook/LaLiga (India) and Amazon/EPL (UK), is there another major discount coming for a new media company just because a rights holder wants to present at least one much-hyped big-tech company among their of broadcasting partners?
MEDIAPRO FOLLOWING THE DAZN BLUEPRINT
After numerous failed attempts (e.g. annulled acquisition of domestic rights to Serie A for €1.05bn before being ultimately secured by Sky Italia & DAZN) to evolve from an intermediary facing the increasing risk of being cut out of the sports broadcasting value chain (i.e. production services, rights broker agency) into a fully-fledged media company, Barcelona-based MediaPro Group had finally secured its first premium-tier media rights as primary rights holder back in May 2018 (Ligue 1, 2020 - 2023, €1.15bn per season combined with beIN SPORTS) and now seems to follow the strategic blueprint of UK-based DAZN when it comes to its internationalization strategy: Canada has been targeted as the first market outside of Europe to enter.
That's all for this time, see or talk to you soon! ✌🏻