The AST Wrap-up: virtualisation, viewership and new stadium experiences

It’s Sunday, and you know what that means, it’s the AST wrap-up! This week saw the Bundesliga upgrade their esports ventures, The Professional Fighters League (PFL) remain ahead of the digital horizon, viewership peaks for the NBC, SeatGeek revolutionise the NBA stadium experience, and ESPN+ culminate groundbreaking subscriber records!

The virtual Bundesliga transforms into a professional sports league

Virtual Bundesliga: RB Leipzig rettet sich in die Playoffs
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A strategic partnership has been penned between the German Football League (DFL) with the Electronic Sports League (ESL) to scale up the Virtual Bundesliga (VBL). The ESL is owned by digital entertainment group, the Modern Times Group (MTG). They will overlook the media production of all VBL competitions while the ESL will endorse the esports competition through their social media channels.

To put the icing on the cake, the ESL can license the VBL’s media rights to multiple partners while contestants can exclusively broadcast and report their matches through their platforms.

The VBL is seen as a powerfully authentic image of the football esports landscape, and the DFL aren’t afraid to continue pushing boundaries to grow the initiative to a worldwide audience.

The PFL bolster their broadcasting experience with IBM

Professional Fighters League unveils first three events for 2019 |  MMAWeekly.com
Image found here: https://bit.ly/3plyC0e

The PFL has struck an agreement with global tech firm IBM to develop its SmartCage technology platform by integrating live data and analytics in league coverage.

SmartCage can monitor live MMA fighter performance, biometric and positional data through sensors placed in the Octagon. Some metrics include kick & punch speed, heart rate and calorie burn. The PFL is striving to transform their fan experience through cutting-edge technological activations continuously.

This initiative can also enhance the betting strategy behind the PFL’s consumers, allowing them to make more informed decisions through the support of live data-driven insights.

Nascar season propels NBC’s digital viewership to new heights

Updated NASCAR schedule 2020: Everything to know about Cup Series races as  season resumes | Sporting News
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The 2020 Nascar Cup series smashed viewership records for US broadcaster NBC by accumulating a 27.3k average minute audience, 3.23m viewers tuning into eight races and approximately 2.59m viewers watching the 19-race contest throughout all of NBC’s platforms. Based from last season, Nielson has reported an uprise of 87,000 viewers over seven live races during 2019.

The Nascar coverage peaked when Chase Elliott crossed the finish line first at the Pheonix Raceway on the 8th November which saw 4.08m people tune in to him winning his first cup series. The race reached a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 3.09m consumers which is an 18% rise on viewers for last seasons Pheonix playoff race.

Greenville-Spartanburg were market leaders for the 2020 Nascar series across NBC and NBCSN. They garnered a 4.2 ranking which was closely followed by Charlotte and Knoxville with a rating of 4.0.

The NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers looks to revolutionise their ticketing processes

Cleveland Cavaliers | Things to Do in Cleveland Ohio | Cleveland, OH | This  Is Cleveland
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The Cavaliers have struck a multi-year partnership with New York-based ticketing firm, SeatGeek. The joint-venture will witness SeatGeek ticket all of the Cavalier’s games along with other events taking place at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

SeatGeek obtains a prestigious sporting clientele including the NFL’s Dallas CowBoys, Liverpool F.C, Major Soccer’s Portland Timbers and the New Orleans Pelicans. The ticketing company will receive premium lounge naming rights in the Cavalier’s stadium while utilising their own data and analytical tools to boost sales, revenue and efficiently manage protocols around the pandemic.

Seeing how unprecedented 2020 has been for sport and the deficit the industry has taken from ticket sales, sports properties need to prioritise boosting match-day revenue through other pathways similar to the Cavaliers partnership with SeatGeek.

ESPN+ skyrocket in revenue and almost triple in subscribers since 2019

What is ESPN+: price, what's included, how to sign up - Business Insider
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Disney’s owned streaming service has accumulated 10.3m subscribers who are near enough to tripling the 3.5m the service had last year. Since the end of last June, subscribers grew by 1.8m, an enormous propel from the 600,000 new subscribers in the previous quarter.

Despite Disney’s end-of-year (EoY) revenue dropping by 23% mainly because of the joint package of ESPN+, Hulu and Disney+ last November, the companies direct-to-consumer (DTC) income increased by 41%. The surge of new subscribers had significantly supported the rise in DTC revenue which now finds Disney obtain over 73.7m consumers. Hulu’s year-on-year (YoY) revenue also grew by 28%, which gradually prospered impression-driven advertising income for the medium.

It appears Disney’s recent choice to adjust the model of their content distribution radically and advertising business is proving efficient with their DTC revenue increase. 


That’s a wrap! How will esports in the Bundesliga benefit from ‘professionalisation’? Will other MMA competitions follow in the digital blueprint the PFL has set? How will other motorsport tournaments compete regarding viewership impact on major broadcasters? What can we expect for the Cleveland Cavalier’s stadium revenue with SeatGeek’s input? And, how much potential does ESPN+ have across the sports broadcasting landscape?

Published by Ashwyn Lall

I'm a First-Class Graduate in Sports Business Management who has worked across Local Government, Sport and the Third Sector. Throughout my career, I've developed a thriving passion to promote sport being used as a tool to bring positivity to the world we live in. This ethos has inspired me to create a website which champions this value through comprehensive online content for you to gain value from. Join me on this journey of discovering what sport can do to enhance society.

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