Tuesday, 19 January 2010

You Tube set to rival TV networks in sports coverage

Hot on the footsteps of You Tube's UK content deal with Channel 4 (blogged here last year) it now appears Google's video channel has signed its most significant brioadcast rights deal to date, Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket.

You Tube will show around 60 matches in the tournament, which starts in March, to a global audience. In India alone there is a potential online audience of 60-70 million (depending on source). IPL is currently broadcast by mainly pay-TV operations such as Sky TV in the UK. So its very likely this deal will open up the IPL brand to a huge audience.

Despite losing $470m per year, You Tube must see massive commercial opportunity to take on this deal. Thay will be looking to recoup investment by signing a global sponsor, plus local sponsors in key cricket markets (UK, Australia, Pakistan etc).

It appears that You Tube's live stream of U2 from the rose Bowl was the key testing ground for this move - 10 million viewer worldwide watched the concert. And it's clear that if IPL is a commercial and audience success, there will be more deals to follow.

All very interesting at a time when regulators in the UK are seeking to make live TV sports more accessible to audience by enforcing pricing regulations.

It also seems to me that this deal by You Tube is exactly what Channel4 (now a You Tube content provider) should have been looking to do after losing its grip on live sport after the 2005 Ashes. Channel 4 recently signaled its intentions to reclaim a position in sport by beating the BBC in buying the rights to London 2012 Paralympics coverage

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