Over-The-Top (OTT) sports broadcaster Eleven Sports’ foray into the U.K. market could be a brief but eventful one.
The Daily Telegraph says the company’s U.K. service, has attracted just 50,000 subscribers since it launched in the summer after wresting the rights to Spanish and Italian top-flight soccer from Sky and BT Sport.
The situation has been exacerbated by the fact that Eleven Sports has failed to secure a carriage deal with Sky, Virgin Media or BT. This has limited awareness of the service and has also failed to attract those not used or comfortable with the idea of streaming.
Eleven Sports woes
This was famously highlighted when Wales national manager Ryan Giggs told the press he hadn’t been able to watch Real Madrid’s star player Gareth Bale too frequently because he didn’t subscribe to Eleven Sports.
Subscribers are limited to watching events on their smartphones or tablets, although Eleven Sports has added support for Google Chromecast – an omission at launch that was criticized. In attempts to increase awareness of the service, Eleven Sports has shown two games a week live for free on Facebook and recently entered into a similar arrangement with Scottish broadcaster STV.
The current uncertainty of the business has been triggered by the UFC opting to exit its broadcast rights deal because Eleven Sports failed to secure a distribution deal with any of the major television platforms. It is reported that recent talks with Virgin Media failed to result in a deal, although I understand that hopes of securing an arrangement with platform holders haven’t been extinguished.