Rising competition from the tech giants in the content space comes amid increasing consolidation in the media landscape. Disney is currently waiting for a deal to buy many parts of 21st Century Fox to close. And Comcast has put in a $31 billion bid for Sky. Both deals are seen to boost the acquirers sports offerings.
Ives said that Disney’s acquisition of Fox will add 22 regional sports networks to its flagship ESPN network. Meanwhile, in the U.K., Sky is one of the dominant players in sports broadcasting.
Disney is also planning to launch its own streaming service that would compete with the likes of Amazon, Netflix and Facebook. Disney CEO Bob Iger told CNBC in February that the company’s ESPN Plus sports streaming service would cost $4.99 a month.
Given the big moves from Disney, Ives said the next year and a half will be crucial for technology firms to get a foothold in live sports.
“To this point, we believe the next 12 to 18 months is a pivotal window for platforms like Facebook and Amazon, among others, to aggressively secure the rights to various professional sports programming, especially as the Disney/ESPN launch of ESPN Plus over the coming year will be at the epicenter to Iger’s master streaming initiatives and ‘raise the stakes’ for securing future sports content in our opinion,” Ives said.
Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.