Even the Olympics Will Have an OTT Service

-Could Appear in 2015

The International Olympics Committee (IOC) has approved plans to launch a streaming “Olympic Channel” OTT service next year. The announcement comes after the Committee launched a feasibility study in August which ultimately decided the service would be beneficial to the IOC and the progress of the Olympic Games.

The OTT service, which will be run by the Olympic Broadcasting Service, will facilitate exposure of the sports and athletes between games with international coverage of sporting events. It will also offer highlights and clips from the games and from the 40,000 hours worth of archive footage available. IOC president Thomas Bach is hoping an online channel will help build up interest in the games from young viewers.

“The positioning has to be about what Olympism is,” said Timo Lumme, managing director of IOC TV and marketing services, earlier this year, in an interview with Sports Business Daily. Lumme said the OTT service won’t just be a sports video service. “It’s sports. It’s education. It’s kids. It’s history. There’s a rich seam of different types of things it can be, and that’s what makes us convinced it can be a success.”

He added that launching a streaming video service was “not hugely revolutionary but is reflective of the broadcast market.”

There’s no word yet about monetization on the channel, whether that be via sponsorships, advertising or subscription fees. The IOC did clarify that the service will be complementary to the rights licenses already in place.

The service will cost €490 million ($609 million) per year to run, according to the Committee, which estimated it would take seven years to break even on the streaming channel.

The Olympic Channel is part of the “Olympic Agenda 2020” recommendations put forth this week at the most recent IOC session meeting.

Here’s an opportunity for an ambitious OTT service to start offering live and recorded sports globally. The Olympics online channel could be offered exclusively to pay TV companies but, pray tell, what are young viewers using to watch on most often? OTT delivered content on a mobile device! And, OTT is instantly global. Put it on the Net and the whole world can watch. The IOC could do it themselves or it could work with an Internet powerhouse such as Google, Yahoo or AOL. The Olympics don’t quite seem Netflix’s cup of tea — but it might be ESPN’s, a majority of which is owned by Disney, which also owns the US’s national ABC TV network.

The Online Reporter has always said that the way to start a live sports service on the Net is initially to offer minor events intermixed with studio-based shows and archived material, which is how the highly successful ESPN got started.

Going after the Super Bowl or World Cup right off the bat would be a mistake — too costly to pry away from pay TV, although a company such as Google has the money to buy the rights for showing on YouTube…

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