Pioneering global broadcaster ELEVEN SPORTS has further expanded its global offer to sports fans after confirming its entry into the Italian market with the acquisition of a majority stake in the national over-the-top (OTT) platform Sportube.
The platform, which is available online and on mobile, will be re-branded as ELEVEN SPORTS in the summer of 2017.
Italy becomes ELEVEN SPORTS’ seventh market just weeks after its US market-entry in March – highlighting the network’s entrepreneurial nature and global ambitions as a leading sports entertainment provider with multiplatform channels served both on-air and online.
ELEVEN’s Italian entry underscores the network’s steady growth and wide-spread success across platforms in Belgium, Luxembourg, Poland, Singapore, Taiwan and U.S. where it delivers exclusive content non-exclusively with distribution agreements across a myriad of broadcast, OTT and mobile partners.
ELEVEN’s exponential success has also seen it achieve close to 100 percent distribution across its operating territories since launch in 2015.
ELEVEN SPORTS’ in Italy will be overseen by Executive Chairman Marc Watson and Group Managing Director Danny Menken. Day to day operations will be overseen by President of the network in Italy and former director at Sky Italia and Infront Sports & Media, Marco Pistoni, and current Sportube CEO and new Managing Director for ELEVEN in Italy, Bruno Stirparo.
“We are thrilled to expand the reach of ELEVEN SPORTS to Italy, enabling us to capitalise further on the growth in demand for online sports consumption and giving the fans the flexibility and freedom of choice to watch their favourite sports – how and when they want,” said Marc Watson, Executive Chairman, ELEVEN SPORTS. “The acquisition of a majority stake in Sportube – a successful, profitable business with a loyal following – presents a fantastic opportunity for ELEVEN and we are very excited about the growth opportunities for this business in Italy and beyond.”
“This move, on the heels of our entry into the U.S. market, underlines ELEVEN’s ambitious global growth strategy,” said Danny Menken, Group Managing Director, ELEVEN SPORTS. “We are a sports community that fans can be part of, find inspiration from, and contribute to – bringing fans closer to the action than ever before. We are committed to reaching every fan, providing unrivalled access to thrilling sports entertainment and we are very pleased to roll out this strategy for fans across Italy.”
“This is an exciting moment in the development of our business and we are delighted to become part of an innovative, global sports provider such as ELEVEN SPORTS,” said Bruno Stirparo, CEO of Sportube and the new Managing Director for ELEVEN SPORTS in Italy. “ELEVEN SPORTS has achieved fantastic success and rapid growth in a short space of time in each of its other markets and we are looking forward to harnessing the expertise of ELEVEN’s dynamic and entrepreneurial team as we aim to replicate that success here in Italy.”
Founded in 2010, Sportube was the first Italian OTT service dedicated to sport. The platform has built up a loyal following thanks to its user-friendly technology and exclusive rights to a number of Italian sport leagues including Italy’s third tier football league, Lega Pro, which offers LIVE access to 60 regional clubs in more than 1,200 games per season across all competitions – enabling fans to follow every one of their favourite team’s matches.
Other current Sportube rights include LIVE coverage of the top Volleyball League, Lega Volley Serie A; Italy’s top waterpolo league; domestic and international fencing; Italy’s 162 team amateur football leagues; the Italian Badminton Championship and a wide offering of motorsport including Superbike, Motocross, Enduro, Italian Rally Championship and the Campionato italiano di velocità – Italy’s premier motorcycle championship.
Sportube has achieved significant growth in recent years with its advanced technological platform receiving 4.3 million unique visitors during the 2015-16 season, up from 3.5 million during the 2014-15 season – representing c23 per cent year-on-year growth. During the 2015-16 season Sportube also experienced substantial growth in the number of overall page views – 39 million, up from 30 million in 2014-15 – and number of live event views – 34 million, up from 28 million in 2014-15. In August 2016, Sportube introduced a pay-per-view system as part of its monetisation strategy and to enable it to improve its services for fans across Italy.
ELEVEN SPORTS, which has top premium rights such as La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, NFL, NBA and Formula One in other markets, will work together with Sportube to build on the success already achieved, bringing its first-class expertise to drive the optimisation of the service.