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Live sports: the last bastion of pay TV, but for how long?

The shift to multi-platform viewership and rise of streaming have so far been used as advantages by national broadcasters and pay TV groups in live sports. This has been aided by the moat provided by premium rights, which have been shunned by would-be challengers in light of sustained price inflation. The recent entry of Amazon and Facebook into top-flight football in England and Spain (amongst other more minor sports) represents an important signal. In the near term the strategy is to experiment with a new model of sports distribution via streaming. The long term (5+ years) is more open-ended. While a full assault on premium rights and direct competition with entrenched groups such as Sky, CBS and Fox is not on the cards, rights fragmentation, 5G and cord cutting will drive migration towards OTT’s distribution economics and a reshaped playing field.

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