Dan Reed

Week 207 (30 September - 6 October)

The media’s main takeaway from Dan Reed’s speech at the Leaders Sport Business Summit was that in the future we are likely to see Facebook, and other similar platforms, offer a significant challenge to the traditional players in the sports broadcasting market.

However, those without their Premier League TV rights goggles on were able to learn from Facebook’s Head of Global Sports Partnerships’ insightful take on the future of the sports broadcasting industry. Reed delivered one of the best presentations of the week, explaining about how to keep pace in a rapidly changing tech-driven world, where consumers are constantly demanding new and exciting content.

As part of his trip to London, Reed spoke at the high-profile, invite-only Summit, and held a media roundtable with a number of journalists. Reed explained how social networks are beginning to play an increasing role in the broadcasting industry, and discussed Facebook’s exciting new “Watch” platform launched in the US in August, a new section on Facebook specifically designed for streaming shows and live content. As Reed noted, Watch is perfect for sport as it combines “episodic, longer-form viewing” with the option of live engagement, a foundation of Facebook's success.

Reed also explained how Facebook has become a key part of major sports teams’ strategies: “The typical relationship or partnership we have with a club, for example, is we’ll ask them, ‘What are you hoping to accomplish, generally, as a business?’ Inevitably [they say,] ‘I want to grow my fan base, I want to engage that fan base, I want to convert them into revenue streams that I have, monetise this.’” With 700 million sports fans of Facebook, the launch of Watch, combined with Facebook’s innovative approach to the sport streaming market, will continue to keep the social network ahead of the curve when it comes to content generation.

Facebook, Amazon and Twitter have all dipped their toes in the water over the last few years, and there is a widespread perception that it is only a matter of time before they become genuine rivals to television broadcasters. However, contrary to the apparent belief that Facebook is preparing its assault on both Sky and BT for the rights to the Premier League, Reed instead shared his vision of how the company plans to “help broadcasters and rights holders reinvent sports distribution, production, and the fan viewing experience.”

Facebook already work with FOX in the US, distributing the Champions League games that they already have rights to, but that are not distributed on their linear TV channels. This way, Facebook is able to provide new content to consumers and build a profile for the live streaming of sports events. This kind of innovation ensures that Reed’s warning, “If you don't have enough content every time someone visits your page then it’s a missed opportunity,” does not become a concern for Facebook.

At this stage, Reed would not confirm whether or not Facebook plans to challenge the likes of Sky and BT. However, what we can take away from Reed’s speech at The Sport Business Summit is that the innovative social network is demonstrating how to successfully use sport to engage more and more consumers all over the world.

Photo: Leaders