Sports

MLS Broadcast Rights | One more concern for CF Montreal

The CF Montreal soccer club will see the local broadcasting of its matches reduced by half next year following the agreement between MLS and Apple on the broadcasting rights.

Posted at 5:00 a.m.

The Montreal eleven forced to change its game plan

Andre Dubuc

Andre Dubuc
The Press

CF Montreal, weakened after two seasons in exile in the United States, received a blow from Jarnac in its own league with the new broadcasting rights contract which reduces its visibility in the Quebec market.

According to the experts consulted, the club will not be able to do otherwise than to work twice as hard in marketing to win fans in the future.

For the sum of 250 million US per year for 10 years, Major League Soccer (MLS) sold in June the exclusivity of its broadcasting rights to the pay digital platform Apple TV+. Many details of the agreement remain unknown.

We know, however, that the production of the matches will be taken care of by the League, which will centralize the teams of commentators in the United States. Starting next year, fans who prefer a more partisan description of their team’s games are encouraged to tune into the radio. Something to remind us of the nostalgic era of the Expos with the Jacques Doucet and Claude Raymond tandem.

PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, ARCHIVES LA PRESSE

Gabriel Gervais, President and CEO of CF Montreal

CF Montreal president and CEO Gabriel Gervais said he hopes games will still be broadcast locally by RDS or TVA Sports next year. “We will still have a critical mass of matches that will still be shown on television,” he told our sports colleague Jean-François Teótonio. Wish for at least half of the matches. »

In other words, the average fan, who has access this season to all his club’s matches on TVA Sports, will only see half of them next year in the best of scenarios.

“There is a significant risk that comes with this agreement,” argues Philip Merrigan, professor of economics at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM), who is interested in the economics of professional sport. “It is certain that the franchise will receive a sum of money each year thanks to the agreement, but will this one help to advance the sport in Montreal and Quebec? Big question mark. »

Under the new agreement, all CF Montreal matches as well as all MLS matches will be offered worldwide on Apple TV+, a platform that French-speaking audiences here don’t really use at the moment.

In addition, the motivated amateur will have to subscribe to Apple TV+ and then pay an additional sum to be entitled to the MLS package.

“Every time you have to pay, it’s a brake on consumer behavior,” says Merrigan.

This is not a good thing for CF Montreal, which has difficulty gaining followers.

Eric Brunelle, professor at HEC Montréal and director of the Sports Department

A real concern for a club struggling to fill the Saputo stadium. In 2018, the Montreal team had indicated losing between 11 and 12 million dollars per season since entering MLS in 2012.

The club is forced to rethink its marketing, suggests the specialist.

Sports fans like to get personalized treatment featuring players from their local team, says Brunelle. In this regard, the Montreal club was well served by TVA Sports, according to him. “It is clear that with a centralization of production teams, there will be no customization. The personalization will have to come from the club through its own digital tools. »

The president of CF Montreal, Gabriel Gervais, seems perfectly aware of the issue. On the microphone of Mario Langlois at 98.5 FM at the end of June, he confided that he would have preferred a more gradual transition to digital.

“We’re going to have to build a lot more content and get our supporters on our side,” he said recently to The Press. We’re going to have to build a content team. A bigger team. We have a team, but we will need to have more muscle. »

PHOTO ERIC BOLTE, USA TODAY SPORTS ARCHIVES

According to the experts consulted by The PressCF Montreal will have to redouble its efforts to attract new fans.

The club has just hired Samia Chebeir as vice-president and chief marketing and communications officer. She worked for several years in advertising agencies like lg2.

The glass half full

Across the league, reaction to the Apple TV+ deal has generated a flood of positive comments. People see it as a profitable bet on the future with a world-class partner with “GAFAesque” means. Soccer attracts a younger and more cosmopolitan clientele than other professional sports. This one does not watch TV and has massively adopted Internet streaming. One of the possible reasons for the modest ratings on cable TV (approximately 200,000 people per MLS game per channel, according to the Sports Business Journal).

According to Philip Merrigan, the League, some clubs of which are running at a loss, buys time with this agreement of 2.5 billion US dollars in 10 years. “It will ensure that the League stays afloat for a few years,” he believes. Holding the FIFA World Cup in North America in 2026 will also help.

Created in 1996 with 10 clubs, MLS will soon celebrate its 30th anniversary, a feat for a professional soccer circuit in North America. Still lagging behind the big four professional sports, the league which will soon have 29 franchises with the arrival of St. Louis can be considered a success, according to Mr. Merrigan, if only for the dramatic increase in value teams. According Forbesa club was worth on average 30 million US in 2008. Ten years later, the average value has been multiplied by 10, to 313 million US.

210 million: value of CF Montreal, penultimate in the league, in 2018

Source : Forbes

With Jean-François Teótonio, The Press

PHOTOMONTAGE THE PRESS

When Apple makes its cinema

Karim Benessaieh

Karim Benessaieh
The Press

Launched at the same time as Disney +, which now has six times more subscribers, offering a fraction of the content of its rival Netflix, Apple TV + has nevertheless managed to top the two giants by becoming the first video broadcasting platform to win the prestigious Oscar for Best Picture and collecting trophies. A portrait of Apple’s stunning foray into the streaming industry.

A service ”

Since November 2019, when Apple TV+ was officially launched, Apple has never released statistics on its platform’s revenue or number of subscribers. In the annual reports, it is part of the “Services” category, in which we also find advertising, cloud computing and Apple Pay. In 2021, this category recorded revenue of US$68.4 billion, up 33% from the previous year.

25 millions

At the end of June, Toni Sacconaghi, of the firm Bernstein, estimated the number of paying subscribers at between 20 and 40 million. He thus assesses the income at “between 1 and 2 billion”, for expenses approaching 3 billion US. Other sources in the media rather mention spending of around 6 billion US. A compilation of the Statista site estimates the number of subscribers at 25 million, an estimate that is more consensus and to which must be added 50 million subscribers taking advantage of various promotions. Most buyers of Apple products benefit from a free offer for Apple TV+ for at least three months.

Be that as it may, Apple TV+ is certainly no match for the 221.6 million subscribers of Netflix and the 137.7 million of Disney+. Apple has, however, opened the floodgates over the past couple of years by making the app AppleTV+ available on many operating systems.

Minimal offer

There is an even greater gap when it comes to the catalog of titles offered. Apple TV+ only has 147, almost all originals, while Netflix sits far ahead of its competitors with 6,475 titles.

To complete the picture, Apple TV+ also offers a lower monthly rate than the others.

Trophies in spades

Yet, with such a thin catalog, Apple TV+ pulled off the improbable last March by becoming the first video streaming platform to receive the Best Picture Oscar, awarded to CODA. Netflix was also in the running with The Power of the Dog.

PHOTO FREDERIC J. BROWN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE ARCHIVES

In addition to the Best Picture Oscar, CODA won those for best adapted screenplay and best actor in a supporting role, awarded to Troy Kotsur, who we see here celebrating with actress Marlee Matlin, who plays his wife in Siân Heder’s film.

“It’s pretty impressive” for Apple, summarizes Geetha Ranganathan, senior media analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence in an interview with Yahoo Finance. “Apple TV+ came along and swept it away, when other platforms had been making a lot of noise for years. She believes that this victory “legitimizes” Apple TV + by making it credible.

Netflix, that said, has an enviable record of 16 Oscars in other categories since 2013. In total, the platform has received 267 trophies and 1,018 selections worldwide. In less than two years, according to an Apple press release published last April, Apple TV + has come dangerously close to this record, with 243 trophies and 961 selections.

IMDb Champion

Apple claims since the launch of the service to have bet on quality, an assertion rather difficult to prove, although several of its flagship series like Ted Lasso, Severance and For All Mankind have received excellent critical and popular acclaim. An analysis of the ratings granted by users of the IMDb database, carried out by Self Financial, provides the beginning of statistical confirmation: the Apple catalog has the best average rating for two years, with 7.08 out of 10 in 2022.

“From this perspective, the performance of Apple TV+ is nothing short of impressive,” said Julia Alexander, principal analyst at Parrot Analytics, quoted by the New York media. Observe. “Average quality is fantastic for a new service. Apple has focused on producing a smaller amount of series and movies, but selecting them to prioritize quality. »

With revenues in 2021 of 365.8 billion and a market value approaching 2,500 billion US, Apple obviously has the means to invest huge sums in its productions. But for many experts, it is above all a question of boosting an entire ecosystem by promoting the unified Apple One service, which includes video games, cloud computing, music and audiovisual content. A way for Apple to diversify its income and free itself from its dependence on the iPhone, which represented 70% of its income in 2017. In 2021, the proportion was 52%.

Apple and professional sports

The broadcast of live sport increasingly takes place through streaming platforms. So far Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Netflix and Apple have ventured there cautiously. Apple TV+ made its first foray this season with the exclusive broadcast of two Major League Baseball games on Friday nights. The agreement with MLS confirms the ambitions of the Cupertino giant in professional sport. Pundits expect her to bid for the rights to some NFL football games. Champions League (soccer) rights in Europe from 2024 are currently on the market.

Andre Dubuc, The Press

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