Friday, March 8, 2019

A passing thought or two on WarnerMedia: Why not the Mountain West?

I want to make sure off the top that you, the reader, know that there's no informed, behind the scenes thought behind this topic.

So the wheels are turning at WarnerMedia at the executive level & my first thoughts about regular season collegiate content they could acquire stopped at one place where they have a foot in the door regionally: The Mountain West, whose rights agreements with CBS Sports & ESPN expire at the end of the 2019-20 athletic year.  The conference has had a small package of football & men's basketball games on the AT&T Sports RSNs for several years.

This got me to thinking that this could be a worthwhile partnership. The Mountain West hasn't been thrilled about some of the slotting of their games, specifically in the areas of start times. Meanwhile, the linear TV channels of TNT, TBS and TruTV have a decently open canvas on weekends for live sports.  I believe the channels also have enough subscribers to support any requirements Boise St. home football games would have as they have a slightly separate deal for themselves.

Beyond those linear channels, B/R Live has gained traction through their coverage of UEFA championships, limited live NBA games, a small set of AAF games & other niche properties. The platform did have the failure of the PPV purchasing system for the Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson golf event, but the stream seemed to hold up.  The conference has experimented with current partner Stadium for events on Facebook when linear TV wasn't an option. I realize the "free vs. pay" option is another hurdle, but it has gained a level of acceptance.

Regional games on AT&T Sports & Spectrum Sports PPV could stay & use B/R Live out of market, assuming there is some location services component to protect the in-market rights.  Maybe leverage Audience Network for some additional carriage of those games on DirecTV & AT&T UVerse or partner up with AT&T's telecom resources.

One quote that got to me and also leads me to believe that WarnerMedia wouldn't need to be the sole distributor of this content comes from the head of WarnerMedia, John Stankey.  While he was talking about entertainment content, I see no reason that it couldn't apply to sports as well:
...Well, look, we invest as much in WarnerMedia as Netflix does every year. In some cases we keep it for ourselves and in some cases we license it to them. Our ability to build content of scale and quality is really second-to-none in terms of an in-house production capability. And now Bob will make the decision about how much we should hold on our own platforms and how much we should license to third-party distributors....
There's no reason to believe that they couldn't seek out other distribution partners while maintaining control of rights.

Would like to hear your thoughts.

1 comment:

bigddan11 said...

One little problem I see is that Audience carries the Big Sky's Root Sports package, and it does have occasional, though not often, conflicts with MW start times. If most of the MW package is moved to the afternoons, that conflict ratio would likely drastically increase.