Eurovision Sport - The New Sports Streaming Service of the EBU
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) recently expanded its portfolio of services with the launch of the direct-to-consumer free sports streaming platform Eurovision Sport. Jean-Baptiste Casta, Head of Strategy and Business Operations, Eurovision Sport, tells TVBIZZ Magazine more details about the newly launched project and what are the plans to develop it further.
Jean-Baptiste Casta, Head of Strat- egy and Business Operations, Eurovision Sport
In February this year, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) launched Eurovision Sport, a new streaming service that will house thousands of hours of content to complement coverage from the continent’s Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs). Where is the new service available, how can users subscribe and is the service free?
We were really excited to get Eurovision Sport live at the start of the year, it’s a huge part of our commitment to enhancing the amount of free public access to sports content across Member territories.

The vision for Eurovision Sport is to be the best destination for digital sport consumption across Europe, aggregating all content, and harnessing and complementing the power of Public Service Media values and reach. Our aim is to democratize access to live sports coverage, helping to grow individual sports through visibility and engagement, and facilitate greater participation.

Access is easy and yes, it’s completely free. Users simply register on our Eurovision Sport App, on mobile, tablet or web (iOS & Android). The only requirement is to complete the short registration process by creating an account on the platform.

How long did it take to prepare and launch EBU’s first direct-to-consumer (DTC) service and how will Eurovision Sport complement the free-to-air broadcasts?
Eurovision Sport is a project that’s been three years in the making and it’s something we are immensely proud of due to the collaborative nature of the product.

It complements Public Service Media brands, values, and reach by connecting Members, Federations, and audiences to sports events. Eurovision Sport provides wrap-around coverage, ensuring audiences never miss a moment of their favourite events, and enhances the offerings of our Members who already broadcast leading sporting events free-to-air. Working in partnership with our Members, we can ensure that every second of these events is available for free to audiences across the continent.

Is there geo-blocking for the service?
All live content will be fully accessible to users unless specific content restrictions exist when certain national broadcasters are providing coverage to those live events. If content is geo-blocked in the territory a user is in, they’ll be redirected automatically to the national broadcaster in their territory when they click to watch the content – which means fans can watch their favourite competitions end-to-end.

What about advertising? What is Eurovision Sport’s business model and way of financing?
To ensure audiences enjoy Eurovision Sport content for free, the platform is financed through in-content advertising and sponsorship. This consists of a mixture of pre-roll video ads, mid-roll video ads and billboard video ads for live and VOD replays and static and non-video advertising.

What content is Eurovision Sport currently offering and what are your plans for the future?
We currently offer an extensive program of sport events which includes competitions and events for Aquatics, Athletics, Biathlon, Canoeing, Electric Off-Road Racing, Gymnastics, Sailing and Skiing.

For now, the focus will primarily be on coverage of Olympic Sports but we’re actively exploring new properties including additional women’s sport including football, and American and other team sports. We’re also very proud that the platform is the first sports streaming service committed to providing true gender equality across all our live sports content. This is actually something that’s reflected in the vibrant, accessible and gender-neutral branding of the platform, where we wanted to create a warm and welcoming environment for all who engage with Eurovision Sport.

Will Eurovision Sport offer coverage of less popular sports to its users?
If by ‘less-popular’ you mean non-Tier One – then, yes! Presently, Tier One Sports dominate focus and broadcasting hours, limiting the growth, development, and awareness of other sports. Part of the Public Service Broadcasting mission is to make sport more available to the wider masses and through Eurovision Sport there will be a wider range of accessible competitions and events, giving visibility to sports that previously may not have received the same coverage as Tier One properties. This is what’s different about Eurovision Sport!

Your research shows that only a third of sports fans have access to premium sports channels. What are the major advantages of Eurovision Sport over premium sports channels, alongside the fact that it is free?
From our perspective, the advantages are extensive. Eurovision Sport gives fans the flexibility to watch content anytime, anywhere, and allows users to create their own viewing schedule. We have such a diverse content library, that gives access to a wide range of sports and exclusive content that can’t be found anywhere else. This is also a completely free streaming service with no financial commitment, and regularly updated sports offerings.

Does Eurovision Sport have a specially dedicated team working on the service and how will EBU members cooperate on content for the streaming platform?
Yes, we benefit from an experienced, dedicated team focused on optimizing the service’s performance and user experience on an on-going basis. Collaboration among EBU Members, Member broadcasters and Federations has also ensured a robust pipeline of high-quality content for the platform.

Will your new service use artificial intelligence (AI) in any way?
It’s something we have experimented with. We previously partnered with European Athletics to utilize AI technology for the European Athletics Team Championships. We used AI to replicate the content of the European Athletics’ live blog for the event, including audio versions using the cloned voice of former athlete Hannah England – an initiative that aimed to explore how AI can enhance the fan experience and provide more content across multiple platforms. We hope that as the platform develops, we can look at similar projects with our Member broadcasters and Federations for future competitions.

EBU is working together with Nagravision on Eurovision Sport. Can you give us more details about this partnership?
We have a long-term, strategic partnership with Nagravision, who we have worked with to develop and operate the Eurovision Sport platform. With the aim of providing a unique service for viewers, the development was guided by deep market research to ensure it met the needs of fans, Members, Federations, and sponsors. Nagravision have a wealth of experience in this industry, and importantly have offices across the globe, and therefore have a great understanding of the diverse culture of our Members. ′
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