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Sports Flick emerges as a serious player in the Aussie sports streaming battle

After two years of broadcasting somewhat off-piste sporting events, Sports Flick is in the middle of announcing a series of broadcast deals that will make the big players take notice. Mumbrella's Zanda Wilson chats with founder Dylan Azzopardi and general manager Michael Turner about the Sports Flick content strategy.

2021 is emerging as a game-changing year for sports broadcasting in Australia, with a plethora of streaming services throwing down the gauntlet and challenging the long-held dominance of linear and Pay TV.

Foxtel’s Kayo Sport is the established player. Optus Sport has built a loyal following by focussing on football. But already this year we’ve seen the market challenged by the emergence of Stan Sport, Amazon Prime Video, and now, out of seemingly nowhere, a Sydney-founded platform called Sports Flick.

Sports Flick was actually founded by Dylan Azzopardi over two years ago, but most of that time has flown under the radar with broadcasts of European handball, Indian and Panama baseball, Ju-Jitsu, Serbian rugby league, and more slightly off-piste sporting events.

But over the past few months, a football-led content strategy for Sports Flick has emerged. It secured the rights for the UEFA Women’s Champions League in December, the Nicaraguan Liga Primera, Arabian Gulf League, Korea’s K-League (which has previously been held by Optus Sport), and today, the Austrian Tipico Bundesliga.

Sports Flick Logo

Azzopardi tells Mumbrella that despite Optus Sport’s emergence in recent years, the Australian football market is undervalued compared to other major sporting codes, and that football will form a core pillar of Sports Flick’s content strategy.

“A large part of the Sports Flick strategy has been to provide a content platform for sports that feature limited mass-media coverage in Australia and broadcaster support. Australia is a sporting mad nation, and this extends to a variety of sports. Sports Flick has largely sought to cater and provide an avenue for these different sports to have a broadcasting outlet,” he says.

“Moving forward, we’ve developed a football strategy, underpinned by the passion for the game from our Directors and Shareholders, along with at senior management level.

“That said, we aren’t a football-only network, with recent rights acquisitions such as the ABL Sydney Blue Sox fixtures, International Cricket, and Serbian Rugby League, the latter which has been very popular with the Serbian population in Australia also engaged with Rugby League.”

Following the announcement of the K-League broadcast deal, Azzopardi revealed that Sports Flick will soon announce deals for four more football leagues, which will certainly make its $14.99 a month (or $99.99 a year) price point more competitive.

Both Sports Flick and Optus Sport declined to comment on media speculation that a deal had been struck to broadcast the UEFA Men’s Champions League from next season (which if true, would be a significant body blow to Optus Sport).

But, speaking with Mumbrella, Turner admits that other platforms have made “significant in-roads in terms of football broadcasting” but believes that there is still significant opportunity in the space.

Australians have a huge appetite for the game that is not currently being serviced in full by the larger traditional linear TV broadcasters, which represents a great opportunity for us… we believe the appetite is larger with football fans following games in many countries, regions and continents.

Being able to provide domestic leagues from across the world on one platform is a long term goal for us. The K-League, as an example is a competitive, high quality, and regionally relevant competition, broadcast in prime time.

Our long term goal is to provide a home for sports markets that are not being tailored to by the current conventional broadcasters. For us, that includes becoming a home for football.”

Ellie Carpenter celebrates a goal with Lyon teammates / UEFA Facebook

Sports Flick has also shown itself to be an opportunist, picking up the aforementioned rights to the UEFA Women’s Champions League, which features Aussie superstars like Sam Kerr and Ellie Carpenter, last December.

SBS had previously broadcast the tournament final, and will do so again this season, but no other provider had picked up the tournament from its group stages and packaged it for Australian audiences.

With the FIFA Women’s World Cup set to take place in Australia and New Zealand in 2023, Sports Flick is introducing Aussies to some of the world’s global female football stars ahead of time.

“I am surprised, but not surprised at the same time,” Turner says, after I ask him why nobody has previously stepped up to broadcast the tournament in this manner.

“While the Matildas continue growing from strength to strength, as world beaters and World Cup contenders, this is not being matched by the mainstream media and broadcasters.

“Female football is an important part of the football ecosystem, and providing young football fans the opportunity to watch their favourite female stars playing in Europe’s biggest football competition is something we are proud to be doing.”

Sports Flick Home Page

Earlier in February, the platform revealed a partnership with could video platform Grabyo, to remotely produce and tailor its international live broadcasts for regional audiences, including the use of local talent for presentation and commentary.

As a result, Sports Flick can remotely produce live broadcasts from anywhere in the world using just a laptop/PC. The broadcasts are then delivered directly to its platform with custom branding and graphics.

That has allowed Sports Flick to use the likes of famed ex-Foxtel caller and the man widely considered to be Australia’s ‘voice of football’, Simon Hill, on its broadcasts.

Additionally, Sports Flick has now begun publishing editorial content on its site, with K-League season and round previews popping up.

Sports Flick has secured the services of former 10Daily journo and SWR 999 digital radio commentator Jessica Dunne as a contributor, and Turner says these articles are just the beginning.

Our long term goal is to provide more and more content in the form of shows, media content, and written content such as opinion articles, previews and analysis.

“In providing a broadcasting outlet for our sports organisations, we also wish to provide more for the fan by giving more debate, conversation, and analysis of the sports.”

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