For a company that had already assumed a leading role in the world of micro-mobility, the bold decision to launch a new media division following the acquisition of high-profile sports rights last year is already paying off for Helbiz.
The Helbiz Media subsidiary was unveiled in June 2021 after its parent company made a surprise entrance into the sports business by snapping up over-the-top streaming rights for the Italian Serie B football league from 2021-22 to 2023-24.
Helbiz Media was given the task of developing and managing the Helbiz Live streaming platform, which was launched to show the Serie B action in Italy. Helbiz Media was also given responsibility for distributing the Serie B rights on an exclusive basis internationally, and on a non-exclusive basis in the competition’s home country, as well as managing the sale of advertising across the entire Helbiz ecosystem, spanning digital, out-of-home advertising and broadcast platforms.
“Helbiz Media was created with the mission of supporting the core business,” Helbiz Media chief executive Matteo Mammi says. “We have a dedicated team looking after strategies, sales, operations and activations, with the aim of generating additional revenue for the group.”
Results so far have justified the brave strategic move. Despite having picked up the rights just weeks before the start of the 2021-22 campaign, Helbiz Media has struck numerous agreements through the course of the season and secured a fivefold increase in international rights revenue.
In February, a deal was struck with to show coverage in in Italy, the US and Serbia through Facebook’s Paid Online Events feature – a pay-per-game model that does not require a subscription.
And there have been notable agreements with Kosmos – covering Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, the Balkans and Latin America – CLIQ Digital (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) and Fox Networks Group (USA). Stats Perform has acquired the league’s international betting streaming rights from the start of the 2021-22 season and betting data from the 2022-23 campaign.
Even at this relatively late stage of the season, deals are still being done, with Polish OTT platform Sportize.pl pouncing for rights in March.
“The distribution of Serie B international rights has been very successful and we are proud of the job we have done so far. The league, my team and I have worked closely on this project,” Mammi says.
The successful distribution is down to a structured approach, according to Mammi, the former senior director of sports rights, programming and production at pay-television broadcaster Sky Italia and an ex-adviser to the Mediapro agency.
The ability to offer coverage in appealing time slots, as well as with English-language commentary and in full high definition, has been vital. On top of this, activating an international network comprising a combination of agencies, as well as tapping into direct relationships with platforms, has also provided solid foundations for growth.
However, advertising, rather than media-rights distribution, will be the primary focus of Helbiz Media in the future.
“Advertising is a key revenue stream in the traditional and digital media business – where we operate with Helbiz Live – and in the future, advertising will play a central role also for the micro-mobility business,” Mammi adds.
“We are a tech consumer company with a rapidly growing customer base, and with a multi-service and product offering that includes mobility, food delivery and over-the-top streaming. This means that we manage a lot of touchpoints with customers and viewers on a daily basis.”
These touchpoints create a “perfect ecosystem” for advertising inventory, Mammi explains. “This is an appealing offer for advertisers who have the chance to reach targets and profiles who are usually difficult to engage.
“For example, our in-app inventory can have various forms, from a message to an advert to a spot during coverage of a Serie B match on Helbiz Live. We are trying to create a structured environment in which all requested promotions can be targeted geographically and demographically in line with the needs of the client.
“The Helbiz Mobility app could be considered as a starting point in the advertising sales strategy and the main goal is to structure a promotional offer that is flexible enough to meet all the needs of the clients. Helbiz Live will also have a central role in the overall strategy, with spots during live events, as well as pre and post-game rolls for on-demand content.”
More broadly, while the immediate challenge for Helbiz Media is to increase the subscriber numbers for Serie B coverage by targeting fans of the league’s clubs, in the long term, advertising ambitions will be the focus.
“This process is in progress thanks to specific marketing activities that also involve several clubs and the league, as well as thanks to new content we are adding to the line-up in order to engage different target audiences,” Mammi says. “Concerning the advertising business, the main objective is to explain our offering and inventory to the market and clearly outline the immediate benefits for advertisers. In this respect, we have already started to work with important players and brands such Kia, Telepass, Fastweb and Alipay.”