Over a thousand extra hours of live sport will be available for audiences to watch online every year through BBC Sport and BBC iPlayer, as the BBC steps up its sporting game.
The BBC aims to “reinvent free-to-air sports broadcasting”, the corporation announced this week, with its biggest increase of live sport coverage in a generation. The BBC is working closely with the likes of the FA, the All England Lawn Tennis Club, the International Tennis Federation, British Swimming and British Basketball, with the aim of broadcasting coverage from more than 30 additional sports or sporting events, including World, European and National Championships.
This means audiences can watch more matches from the early rounds of the FA Cup, Rugby League Challenge Cup, Women’s Super League Football, the British Basketball League, Wheelchair Tennis and many more. This expanded online offer complements the BBC’s existing TV and radio portfolio, which includes the Olympic Games to 2024, the Wimbledon Championships to 2024, the Football World Cup to 2022, Euro 2020 plus the 6 Nations and FA Cup to 2021.
BBC Sport is the most popular sport site in the UK, while live tournaments, such as Wimbledon and the World Cup repeatedly top the popularity charts on BBC iPlayer whenever they are broadcast. By working in partnership with a wide array of sporting bodies, the BBC now aims to provide a platform to help them grow their sport, while offering far greater choice to audiences – delivering more sport to more people across mobiles, computers and TVs.
The extra coverage has been made possible by low-cost streaming technology developed by the BBC. Since London 2012, the BBC has evolved how it streams live events – from Olympic Games and World Cups, to Glastonbury and national elections. The technology can now be used to cover hundreds more hours of live coverage, and a wider range of events, every single day.
Barbara Slater, Head of BBC Sport, says: “We’ve seen the nation get behind a whole host of sports in recent years, especially at major events. We want to use BBC Sport’s live streaming service to showcase more of those moments that inspire people to take part. Put simply, it’s a huge expansion in the availability of free-to-air sport in the UK.”
The push behind sports follows a similar move from other streaming platforms, with Netflix and Amazon reportedly looking to develop behind-the-scenes series set within the Premier League to build on the popularity of their American sports documentaries, All or Nothing and Last Chance U. Amazon, meanwhile, has made a major play for live sports, streaming NFL games on Thursday nights this season and also snapping up the rights to multiple tennis tournaments. After outbidding Sky for the rights to the ATP World Tour, this week will also see the debut of live tennis on Amazon Prime Video, with the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan running from 7th to 11th November.