Clive Dickens on Optus Sport leaning into content investment as other telcos pull back

Optus will broadcast the final of UEFA’s Euro 2020 football tournament this Monday, 12 July, and the day after the final of the Copa America, via its Optus Sport platform.

Australians have been able to watch both tournaments over the last month either by subscribing to Optus Sport or with a free subscription that comes with most Optus mobile, home phone or internet plans, and speaking with Mumbrella, the telco’s Clive Dickens says there won’t be any backward steps in the future in terms of its content investment.

Vice president of TV, content, and product development at Optus Sport, Dickens contrasts the platform’s ongoing investment in sport, particularly in football, with competitors. “We’ve seen other telcos around the world pull back from content investments.

“We see ourselves doubling down [instead] because it’s incredibly important [in terms of] differentiating a product in a marketplace that is becoming increasingly hard to differentiate in.”

Clive Dickens says sport is a big differentiating factor for Optus as a telco

Optus Sport currently broadcasts leagues including the English Premier League, Japan’s J-League, England’s Women’s Super League, and until recently the UEFA Champions League and Europa League.

The Optus Sport package goes beyond just match broadcasts and highlights. There is plenty of dedicated analysis programs too, as well as a growing team of writers producing written content, and a workout content series OS Fitness.

“This content gives us a unique customer connection,” Dickens says. “In the home and mobile market is increasingly hard to differentiate, and Optus Sport with OS Fitness is one of the best, most defined, and popular differentiation points across our connectivity business.

“When you think about why you might go to another telco or why you might go to another NBN provider, you normally think of coverage, you might think of price and you might think of service.

“All of the operators… we will all battle it out for having the best coverage, the best service and the best price. But then you think… after you’ve made a decision around those three things, ‘what does a service provider give me?’

“What gives you an indication of why Optus Spot is so important to Optus.”

Optus Sport Euros studio

To illustrate that point, in almost exactly two years Optus Sport will team up with an as-yet-undetermined free-to-air broadcaster to be the home of content for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, to be held in Australia.

Dickens notes that during the last FIFA Women’s World Cup in France in 2019, over 70% of all people in the home nation watched some of the tournament. He’s hoping for a similar impact when it comes to the 2023 Australia and New Zealand tournament, even suggesting it could bring “domestic Olympic” levels of audience.

“This could be one of the biggest sporting events ever staged in this country,” he says.

The Euros and Copa America are going to be “a warmup for what we think is going to be a real cultural moment, the Women’s World Cup 2023″.

“We want to make sure it’s available to the widest number of Australians. One [way] is by making sure it’s part of Optus, not just part of Optus Sport.

“The most cost-effective way for people to enjoy premium football in this country at the moment is to get it through their Optus plan, home and mobile plans. Even our base plans come with Optus Spot included.”

Dickens says the Women’s World Cup will be an Olympic-sized event

Dickens admits that losing the rights to the UEFA Champions League, to “our friends at Stan Sport”, was disappointing, but says in the end “we can’t have everything” and says ongoing splintering of sports broadcasting is inevitable.

“We’ve seen fragmentation in the marketplace with [ViacomCBS] Paramount+ becoming the home of the Matildas, Socceroos, A-League and W-League… and Stan Sports getting some European football,” he says.

Broadcasters will continue to bet big on sport, predicts Dickens, because it brings shared experiences which in turn, bring certainty for people

“We live in an incredibly uncertain world. And in fact, even in a pandemic across the world, that certainty has been there as we come together in these shared experiences around sports.

“So as we all delve into our SVOD of choice in the evening after we’ve watched a bit of primetime TV, these shared experiences become even more important.”

You can hear Zanda Wilson’s full chat with Optus Sport’s Clive Dickens, from 23:45, below:


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