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‘The distribution model of live sports must change’: Eleven Sports founder on the future of broadcasting

"You should be able to get access to a football game as easily as buying an ice cream," said Andrea Radrizzani

Eleven Sports’ founder Andrea Radrizzani has called for the distribution of sports rights to undergo fundamental change, stating the way content is distributed doesn’t match the opportunities that digital platforms can offer.

Radrizzani was speaking with Eleven Sports presenter Pedro Pinto to discuss his career and thoughts on the future of the sports media industry.

Asked whether how we sees the future of sports broadcasting Radrizzani said in terms of football, decisions are led by the clubs and they need a guaranteed income to pay their players and other costs. “It will take someone to change the model. I believe, the distribution model of live sports must change, it currently doesn’t match the opportunities that digital platforms are offering because of the way content is distributed. There is more demand for football than before, but the rights are stagnant because there is a discrepancy between the demand and the way the content is distributed in terms of pricing, platforms and technology.”

If people can invest and take risk, it will benefit the industry and ecosystem, as well as the fans as it’ll grant them much more access to content without the problem of large monthly fees – it will democratise the model,” he added.

“I think there is a general decline and stagnation in football and sports rights in any case. That’s not because of a lack of demand which in my opinion is actually increasing but because of the distribution system which is still focused on pay-TV and that’s it. So there’s not much competition. So maybe we should reconsider if the right way is to sell rights with exclusivity or not.”

Radrizzani suggested fans should be able to buy matches directly with a “micropayment” from a player’s Instagram account, “Why not? It’s easy to do with the technology we have. These changes can happen, the distribution model can change and it’ll benefit more people. At the moment football can only be enjoyed by an elite group – those that can afford monthly subscriptions. This can change, we can create a model that matches the demand and makes it more democratic.”

“What I want to see is fans having access to any game they want without the need for piracy, through a micropayment or via their phone, and accessing the content via the social accounts of their favourite players or teams,” said Radrizzani. “I think technology can change completely the way sport is distributed and facilitate the payment process. You should be able to get access to a football game as easily as buying an ice cream. Don’t forget that billions of dollars are currently being lost to piracy and the way to reduce that is to make it easier and cheaper for fans to gain access to games.”

Watch the full interview with Andrea Radrizzani.