FIFA has announced the launch of FIFA+, a proprietary streaming platform that includes documentaries, live matches and an archive of more than 3,000 historic games, available free of charge, with advertising.

The move has been interpreted as a trial run to cut out the middleman: better bandwidth has lowered the entry barriers for content broadcasting to such an extent that just about anybody can distribute and market their product on their own.

For the time being, competitions with previously negotiated rights, such as the upcoming World Cup in Qatar will not be available on the platform, and we will have to see what FIFA decides to do with the rights to other events. Content is already available in English, German, French, Spanish and Portuguese, with plans to add Mandarin, Bahasa, Korean, Japanese, Italian, Arabic and Hindi in a few months. FIFA predicts a global audience of 200 million users by the end of this year. In addition, it plans to produce news, statistics and a fantasy league. At launch, the service will broadcast about 1,400 matches per month, which will soon rise to 4,000.

Might FIFA earn more from individual viewer payments than by selling the rights en bloc to television channels in different blocs around the world? Until now, broadcasting highly popular content such as soccer was a key revenue earner and way to attract subscribers; similarly, auctions of broadcasting rights provided clubs with income, a model that is in crisis as the big sides attempt to negotiate their rights separately and even organize their own competitions.

A direct broadcast model would give FIFA total control over revenue without having to rely on auctions of its content, allowing it to better manage transfers to clubs. Such a service could be done via advertising monetization models, seasonal or competition-based subscription payments, full flat-rate or pay-per-view, with full pricing flexibility.

The impact on channels that depend on soccer for subscriptions of FIFA’s decision to broadcast soccer could be We will see how the model progresses and whether FIFA wants to simply test the idea, or launch it with all its consequences.

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