Roku Joins The Live Sports Streaming Race, Grabs Rights To This Sport

Zinger Key Points
  • Roku is entering the live sports streaming market with a new deal.
  • The sports rights market has become even more competitive with streaming companies ready to add content.

Roku Inc ROKU is the latest streaming platform to enter the live sports market.

What Happened: The New York-based company announced Tuesday that it will be the official streaming home of motorsports league Formula E for the U.S.

This marks the first live sports rights package for Roku, which ended the recent quarter with 71.6 million active subscribers.

The Roku Channel will have on-demand replays starting with the 2024 season, and eleven races in the 2024 season. It will also offer race previews, highlights, replays and past docuseries like “Unplugged,” which aired on YouTube in 2021.

“It’s an honor to partner with Formula E on Roku’s first-ever live sports partnership, making it easier for millions of TV streamers to discover the thrill of Formula E races through the unique integrated viewing experiences only available on Roku,” Roku Media Head of Content David Eilenberg said.

CBS Sports, a unit of Paramount Global PARAPARAA, expanded its existing deal with the league as well. Five races from the next season will air on CBS and the Paramount+ streaming platform.

“This is a powerful new partnership with CBS and Roku that will dramatically increase Formula E’s audience reach and maximize discoverability of our programming in the U.S.,” Formula E Chief Media Officer Aarti Dabas said

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Why It Matters: The deal comes as media companies compete for the rights to sports content as more consumers shift away from traditional broadcast and cable television to streaming services.

Formula E's popularity has grown since its first season aired in 2014. The league got some attention when Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk attended a live Formula 1 FWONA race and suggested an electric vehicle racing league, unaware that it already exists.

Touted as the world’s first all-electric world championship motorsports series, with net-zero carbon emissions, Formula E has 11 teams and 22 drivers.

For the 2024 season, racers will compete across the globe, including Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Japan, Italy, Monaco, Germany, Indonesia and the U.S.

Formula 1 has also enjoyed massive growth in the U.S. thanks in part to a popular Netflix NFLX docuseries. When the league’s U.S. media rights came up for renewal, ESPN — a unit of The Walt Disney Company DIS — paid an estimated $75 million to $90 million annually to renew its deal.

This marked a large increase from the estimated $5 million annually paid by ESPN since 2019.

Netflix, Comcast Inc CMCSA and AMZN also bid on Formula 1. Amazon, meanwhile, landed National Football League rights while Apple Inc AAPL has the exclusive rights to Major League Soccer.

Apple also broadcasts several Major League Baseball contests.

Benzinga recently wrote about how Netflix is eyeing its first live sports streaming event that would see Formula 1 drivers and golfers from its “Full Swing” docuseries compete in a celebrity golf tournament.

Roku could be dipping its toes into the live sports market with a smaller league first to see if it increases subscribers and engagement.

Netflix also previously bid on the rights to several smaller sports leagues before news of the celebrity golf event came out.

What's Next: The rights to National Basketball Association games are up for bid next year, and the league appears ready to offer streaming and traditional broadcast rights.

With many companies in the mix, the rights could see record figures for the league.

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