News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWSA) on Friday is launching BallBall, a mobile and online service in East Asia for watching highlights from Europe's biggest soccer leagues, marking its first major venture since spinning off its entertainment and broadcast assets two months ago.
Initially kicking off only in Indonesia, Japan and Vietnam, a combined market of more than 460 million people, Singapore-based BallBall will offer video clips from England's Barclays Premier League and as well as Germany’s Bundesliga, France’s Ligue 1, Italy’s Serie A, England’s FA Cup, Championship and Capital One Cup leagues, Brazil’s Championship and the U.S.’s Major League Soccer, according to a press release.
The publishing giant secured the exclusive mobile and Internet clip rights in the three countries for the championships on Monday in what could be a lucrative venture for advertising sales. News Corp. owns the English Premier League rights for three years, and has two-year contracts for the other leagues.
The company has promised to provide "near-live" updates, opening the door to the bounty of advertising dollars spent on live sporting events. This is a critical revenue stream since News Corp. split from the money-making television and movie assets -- such as Fox News Channel and Fox Sports, among those spun off into Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (NASDAQ:FOXA) on June 28 -- that once subsidized its ailing print and publishing properties.
"BallBall's launch is a significant moment in the e-evolution of the new News," Robert Thomson, News Corp.'s chief executive, said in a statement. "It is all about the mobility of unique content and the upward mobility of Asia."
He said the service, which will be available as a mobile app and at BallBall.com, will feature video of matches, player and game statistics and coverage from News Corp.'s British newspapers, the Times, the Sunday Times and the Sun, all in the local languages.
News Corp. also owns the Dow Jones & Company, the Wall Street Journal, HarperCollins and the New York Post in the U.S., along with some Australian television properties, including Fox Sports Australia.
Unmish Parthasarathi, a former Fox Sports Asia executive, was named general manager of the company.
News Corp. previously announced the acquisition of the U.K. rights to show clips of all Premier League and Football Association matches available to subscribers through the websites for its London newspapers the Sun, the Times and the Sunday Times.