Technology

Sports Summit: Lazarus -- TV Everywhere Protects Pay TV Ecosystem

NBC Sports Group chief says NBCSN is 'two years into a five-year process' 6/19/2013 10:45:34 AM Eastern

New York -- With the rise of online and mobile video, TV
Everywhere is seen as a way for programmers to protect their property from being
usurped completely.

"The TV Everywhere aspect of our business, specifically
around sports and live events, is an important part of protecting the pay TV
ecosystem," said Mark Lazarus, chairman of the NBC Sports Group, during a
keynote conversation with Multichannel News' news editor Mike Reynolds
during NewBay Media's Sports Business and Technology Summit on Wednesday.

"All the distributors and all the programmers should be
moving towards a way to protect the value of that system so we can continue to
pay the rights and build our high quality content," he continued.

Last summer during the London Olympics, NBC made every
single event available live on one platform or another, with most of its coming
via the second screen. The success of its digital coverage -- 159.3 million
video streams (64.4 million of them live) -- helped Lazarus feel better about
making so many of their events available on multiple platforms. "It was a
strategy put in place before that," he said. "It was a little bit
emboldened by the success we had there."

Lazarus said that adoption of TV Everywhere is still
growing, touting his upcoming deals with AT&T, Cox, Charter and DirecTV.
 "We're still hopeful to make a deal with Time Warner Cable," he
said of the No. 2 MSO's holdout. "We think over time this will become a
part of our normal negotiations."

With the launch of Fox Sports 1 looming, Lazarus discussed
the prospects of the year-and-a-half old NBC Sports Network, which rebranded from Versus in January 2012. "We are two
years into a five-year process," he said, noting that NBCSN has acquired
some significant rights. "We've made more progress in some areas than I
thought we would and we've made less progress in [other] areas."

In August, NBCSN gains rights to the Barclays Premier League, England's top-tier soccer circuit and one of the group's major recent rights acquisitions.

"We think it was a good bet," he said of the premiership, which includes many of international football's most popular clubs. "For the amount of content that it is, it's a good value."

One of NBC's main sports properties - the National Hockey League - is enjoying a boffo ratings season. Games two and three of the current Stanley Cup Finals between the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins were NBCSN's most-watched NHL games ever.

Lazarus credits a scheduling change made for the lockout-shortened season, namely the "Wednesday Night Rivalry" slate, for the ratings momentum.

"We have acquired a lot of product," he said. "It's a very competitive rights landscape."

There have been whispers that the National Football League will look to sell off a portion of its Thursday Night Football slate, which it currently televised by the league-owned NFL Network.

"At this point the NFL has not come out with any plans of what they're going to do with those games," Lazarus said said. "The scarcity of [NFL football] has been good for the marketplace."

 

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