Disney launches streaming focused on sport and moves away from Brazilian football – 08/31/2021

“We are not protagonists, we are observers”. It is with this mentality that Disney launches Star+ in Brazil, its new streaming project in the country. With a large amount of sports content, the platform wants to offer viewers a “Weekend Olympics”, but almost without national football. The reason? The company sees “lack of organization” in the modality here.

“We don’t rule out listening, talking [sobre direitos de torneios brasileiros]. But today, it’s going to be the way it is. Libertadores is an example that has worked very well, we have the Northeast Cup. Europeans are doing better year after year. When it comes to national football, we know very well how it is… We are an observer, not a protagonist. So we wait for a solution. We can talk anytime. We never say no right away”, explained the head of Disney Sports, Carlos Maluf, in an exclusive interview with UOL.

Disney has, so far, the rights to the Copa do Nordeste and, at the moment, does not intend to join the fight for the Campeonato Brasileiro or the Copa do Brasil — the agreement for the broadcast of the Copa Libertadores is with Conmebol. The multinational believes that competitions abroad, such as European championships, are better managed and cost-effective. “Today it remains the way it is. Simply because we understand that it is more organized in general. And the return is very good,” said Maluf.

Broadcast rights in Brazil

TV camera films soccer ball before the match of Brasileirão 2021 - Fernando Moreno/AGIF - Fernando Moreno/AGIF
Image: Fernando Moreno/AGIF

What can change the company’s posture is the Mandating Law, which is already approved in Congress and gives the teams that host the games all the rights to the match. But investment prospects are still far away.

To understand the company’s posture, it is necessary to understand the system for selling broadcasting rights in Brazil. This system works, in most cases, differently from the rest of the world. Negotiations are individualized for the Brazilian Championship, but made by the CBF without formal competition for the Copa do Brasil. This explains the reticence of companies like Disney to act more strongly in the national market.

Until 2011, the clubs collectively negotiated the Brazilian Nationals, through Clube dos 13. The entity, however, was imploded by a movement led by Corinthians and, from then on, the market began to be governed by club-by-club contracts. And, under the legislation still in force, a broadcaster had to negotiate with the two clubs that play a game to broadcast. Currently, all teams from the Brazilian Series A have, until 2024, contracts for broadcasting rights for open TV linked to Globo. In the case of PPV, only Athetico-PR does not have a contract with the Rio station, which also has the right to broadcast the Copa do Brasil until 2022.

The Mandant Law, approved by Congress and awaiting presidential approval, will only give the right to the owner of the house. This will simplify negotiations, but the distance will still be great from European tournaments, for example, where clubs collectively negotiate their rights using sports leagues. There is such an initiative founded by the clubs this year, but that league is stuck at the moment.

In Europe, leagues trade on behalf of clubs in the domestic and foreign markets. There are competitions with rules for bigger competitions like the Champions League and Premier League.

The competitions that Disney has in the South American market work like this. The Copa Libertadores, which has Conmebol as the owner of rights, had a formal competition won by Fox Sports for Closed TV. The Northeast Cup, which is organized by a league, is also collectively sold rights.

What is Star+?

It is Disney’s new streaming service launched today (31) with a focus on adult audiences. In addition to the sports offerings by the ESPN and Fox Sports duo, it has series such as “This is Us”, “The Walking Dead” and “American Horror Story”, cartoons aimed at older audiences (compared to Disney+), such as “Simpsons”, and a collection of films such as “Deadpool”, “Logan”, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “The Devil Wears Prada” and franchises such as “Alien”, “Tough to Kill” and “The Planet of the Apes” —o service is a joint offering of content from Disney Television Studios, FX, 20th Century Studios, Star Original Productions, National Geographic Original Productions, and more.

“One Olympics per weekend”

Cristiano Lima, director of entertainment at Disney in Brazil - Press Release/Disney - Press Release/Disney

Cristiano Lima, Disney’s entertainment director in Brazil

Image: Disclosure/Disney

When launching Star+ with sports content, Disney talks about broadcasting “one Olympics every weekend”. The words are from its sports director, Carlos Maluf. The idea is to spread the content using the platform. As an example, every Premier League game or US Open tennis match will be there—which started this week.

“Modesty aside, we’re going to do what Globo did, and I don’t want to mention it, one Olympics per weekend, per day,” says Maluf. “Star+ is an unlimited space, it really brings an absurd offer. And it also brings democracy. Let’s say it’s a smaller team from England. You can see it in Star+. In linear it has five channels, but there it’s infinite”, completed Cristiano Lima, Disney’s head of entertainment.

The Premier League, despite being a football tournament, is an example of the comparison with the Olympics and Globo. The Brazilian group showed the Tokyo-2020 Olympics on Globo, on various channels on SporTV and on its own streaming service, Globoplay — including transmission of all events, some of them only with ambient audio. In the Premier League, ESPN will broadcast four of the six games of the biggest teams, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, City, Chelsea and Tottenham, on its cable channels per round. The other two will be on Star+. Smaller team games, which would not normally be available, will also be there. The same will happen with Portuguese Championship matches. It is also valid for events like the US Open, tennis, and other sports — mainly in the US.

This unlimited space, therefore, will depend on each weekend and the content available. Maluf emphasizes that, for Brazil, Disney has rights that it does not have abroad. “What we are doing at Star+ is innovative. Nobody has ever done it in Brazil, perhaps in the world.”

What sports and championships can you follow?

Soccer

  • liberators
  • Liga 1 (French Championship)
  • La Liga (Spanish Championship)
  • Premier League (English Championship)
  • Serie A (Italian Championship)
  • Argentine Championship
  • Europa League
  • Europe Conference League

More Sports

  • NFL (American football)
  • NBA (basketball)
  • MLB (baseball)
  • NHL (hockey)
  • US Open, Australian Open, ATP and WTA (tennis)
  • WSL (surfing)
  • Tour de France (cycling)
  • PGA Tour (golf)

With content for a specific audience, the bet is on combined sales with Disney+

Disney Plus and Star Plus - Reproduction - Reproduction
Image: Reproduction

In addition to sports competitions, Star+ has entertainment attractions focused on adult audiences. As much as it is based on internal studies, there is no denying that creating a streaming with limited content — when it comes to audience engagement — is a risky idea. It’s another platform in the middle of the rain of others out there.

Today, if Brazilians want to subscribe to the main streaming services, such as Netflix, HBOMax, Amazon Prime or UOL Play, among others, they will pay more than R$200 per month. Disney executives in Brazil say that one of the important gimmicks to new users will be Disney+, the company’s other streaming, in addition to the large number of sports competitions.

“In fact, we thought of a combined offer. From a commercial point of view, Disney+ and Star+ are something different from what is available worldwide. We have a sports offer that we don’t have anywhere in the world. With both of them platforms, we have the possibility of expanding and talking to all audiences. That’s how the company understood that strategically it was to offer. For the single consumer, it may not be as advantageous from a financial point of view, but for a family it is”, explained Cristiano Lima, content director for Disney in Brazil.

The spectator who wants to subscribe to the combo with Disney+ and Star+ will pay around R$45.90 per month —the subscription to Star+ only costs R$32.90. In Brazil, the price of other streaming services starts at R$9.90:

  • Apple TV+: R$9.90
  • Amazon Prime Video: R$9.90
  • UOLPlay: BRL 15.90
  • Globoplay: BRL 22.90
  • HBO Max: BRL 19.90
  • Look: BRL 16.90
  • Netflix: BRL 25.90
  • Paramount+: BRL 19.90
  • Starzplay: BRL 14.90
  • Telecine: BRL 37.90

Streaming vs Closed TV

The sum of the values ​​above exceeds R$ 200. It is a high number if you think about the Brazilian economic situation, since, in addition to streaming, Brazilians also usually have pay TV plans, generally linked to cell phones, internet and landline. The bill is high and many people are already thinking about whether it is worth keeping the expense of the TV closed.

The advantage of digital platforms is the option to watch an event on the spot and however you prefer. Despite this, the convenience and habit of zapping channels still weighs heavily. Disney is still betting on this habit despite the two streaming platforms it currently offers.

“One of the pillars for Disney is closed TV. I don’t see a change of scenery in any short term. [o streaming] as a new pillar. It’s a new platform. We will not fail to prioritize closed TVs, because it is one of the strong pillars we have on all fronts. These opportunities that have emerged in streaming are by demand. It’s taking advantage of so much content that we have that we can’t put on television. We have content that was not shown,” said Maluf.

“I agree that there are several other players positioned, but we trust the content we have. In a short time, each person will understand what each platform has to offer. And we have everything to be highly competitive in this market,” added Cristiano Lima .