Eleven Sports, the international subscription broadcaster, has prioritized “local and locally relevant content” in its strategy to build out its rights portfolio in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong after recently expanding into the region.
The broadcaster’s offering has been available in Thailand and Hong Kong since November 2021, while it launched in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, and the Philippines last month (January).
Eleven has prioritized an “over-the-top first approach” in all territories across the region and aims to deliver over 2,000 hours of live sport to fans in 2022.
The company’s strategy to expand into Southeast Asia came after Fox Sports Asia, the regional sports broadcaster owned by the Disney corporation, shut down its own 18 regional channels last year and exited the market.
Guillaume Collard, managing director of Eleven Belgium and Luxembourg and Eleven group chief rights acquisitions and distribution officer, believes developing a strong local offering will allow the broadcaster to have a long-term footing in the region.
In an interview with GlobalData Sports, he said: “When Fox decided to exit, it obviously opened a lot of doors with a lot of rights coming to market. Then you start analyzing what would be available.
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“We don’t try to copy others. We do what we are good at. We don’t want to replace Fox there. We come with our own strategy, which we call a ‘glocal strategy’. We want to be very strong locally.
“[The Asian Football Confederation] is a very good example. It’s a very well-known brand internationally but very relevant locally. We are going to announce many other rights that again are very relevant locally. When we add those, they will be the basis across the five, six, or seven territories we are interested in, and we can further build on that thanks to the several assets we have.”
The company launched in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong with the acquisition of exclusive Asian Football Confederation rights late last year for the 2021-24 cycle.
It recently expanded its portfolio in the market with the addition of Spanish soccer’s Copa del Rey knockout cup competition, the Japanese T1 Table Tennis League, the Malaysian SPL Sepak Takraw League (STL), European badminton, and a slate of international cricket.
Eleven plans to continue broadening its offering with additional announcements in the pipeline as part of its aim to “establish itself as a dynamic new home for fans in the region.”
Strategically, Collard also believes it is key for Eleven to develop its non-live content in the respective new markets as he views it as an opportunity to attract and engage with more consumers.
He said: “We want to localize in every territory, producing content next to the live rights. We live through live events, but the challenge is how we can spend more time next to those live events with the consumers.
“How can we connect? How can we engage with them during the rest of the week? That’s the real challenge. We’re convinced we’re very well placed. The plan is to have very strong live content but also non-live programming.”
Eleven faces stiff competition in Southeast Asia from Eclat Media Group, the Korean sports broadcasting company, which recently launched new sports channels across the region.
Eclat’s SPOTV pay-television and streaming network is available in every territory into which Eleven has expanded.
The company has acquired a significant portfolio of sports rights in recent months including motorcycling’s MotoGP World Championships and World Superbike Championships, tennis’ Wimbledon and US Open grand slams, the Korean Baseball League, Korean Basketball League, and Japanese soccer’s V.League.
Just last month, Eclat secured deals with World Table Tennis, the commercial vehicle of the International Table Tennis Federation, and the Badminton World Federation to bolster its content offering.
Asked how Eleven competes with rival broadcasters in key markets, Collard replied: “It’s a challenge because we compete in acquisition.
“You are either seen as an opportunity or as a threat. But when you enter and you manage to explain and demonstrate your added value, after some time it pays off and that competition, of course, continues to exist.
“We don’t acquire all rights in every market but over time our distributors and partners see the added value we bring to them and that’s the most important element over time to convince them that we are there.
“On the other hand, we innovate very much. We constantly bring more value so we have managed to get quite a strong position at some points in all of our territories.”
Eleven’s content will be tailored to each market, with local teams to be installed in core territories. Its Southeast Asia operations are headquartered across Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
Team Whistle, the US sports media and entertainment company acquired by the Eleven Group last year, is providing production services to the new network of platforms and will be creating content that “champions Eleven´s live rights and engages younger audiences.”
All Eleven content was initially free to fans in the region but a “competitively priced” subscription service was launched to coincide with coverage of the AFC World Cup qualifiers towards the end of January.
Each local service will be accessible on Eleven´s new global streaming platform ElevenSports.com. D2C distribution will be complemented by partnerships with local linear operators.
Eleven’s expansion in Asia builds on its operations in Taiwan and Japan in recent years.