‘Free portal broadcast’ Now hello, the OTT wind that even baseball blew…The impact is

The KBO (Korea Baseball Organization) announced on the 9th that CJ ENM Co., Ltd. has been selected as the preferred bidder for the 2024-2026 KBO League wired and wireless broadcasting rights project. Accordingly, CJ ENM will hold detailed negotiations with KBO. When the negotiations are finalized, the size and key matters of the contract will also be announced.

The right to transmit wired and wireless communications has been held by the consortium (Naver, Kakao, KT, LG Uplus, and SK Broadband). They signed a five-year contract worth 110 billion won during the 2019-2023 season. The deal attracted attention by more than double the previous contract (five-year total of 46.5 billion won).

A total of three bidding companies, including CJ ENM, AECLA Media Group and Naver Consortium (Naver, SK Telecom, LG Uplus, and Afreeca TV), participated in the bidding. Coupang, which runs the OTT service Coupang Play just like CJ ENM, initially participated in the bidding but withdrew its bid before the selection. CJ ENM, which became the final winner, reportedly called the largest bid ever. The baseball community says that the competition with Coupang, which withdrew before the selection, significantly boosted the bid. Until last year, the KBO League was able to watch various highlight videos for free as well as live broadcasts on portal sites such as Naver. 스포츠토토

CJ ENM has its own OTT platform called TVing. It is establishing a two-way system in the domestic OTT market along with Coupang Play. Just as Coupang Play has significantly increased the number of paid subscribers to various sports platforms such as professional soccer K-League, European soccer’s major leagues, Formula 1 (F1), and mixed martial arts, TVing is expected to actively utilize KBO league contents.

OTT’s broadcasting of professional sports is a trend that has become more common worldwide. Not only in advanced professional sports countries such as the U.S. and Europe, where the PPV (Pay Per View) culture has been activated earlier in certain games, but also in nearby Japan, the J-League is being broadcast on OTT platform DAZN. Sports have been attracting the attention of large OTT since they are killer contents that can boost the number of subscribers and profits at once. With the domestic OTT market becoming active, there has been a steady prospect that the OTT era will come to major professional sports as well.

Some are raising concerns that broadcasting of professional sports, which is limited to paid subscribers, will violate the universal right to watch media contents regardless of region or income. Some predict that the move of the KBO League, which has been used to free broadcasting, to an OTT platform that is open only to paid subscribers will be a bad news for the box office. However, there have been constant objections to the fact that broadcasting rights profits, one of the sources of income, cannot be overlooked in professional sports, which ultimately aims to generate profits by investing tens of billions of won every year, and whether professional baseball is a national event that violates universal viewing rights. The negotiations between KBO and CJ ENM will eventually focus on how much openness they have, including free broadcasting on the platform.

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