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K League to stream first match globally, adds Optus deal

Supporters of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors during the AFC Champions League Group G match between Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Urawa Red Diamonds at Jeonju World Cup Stadium on April 24, 2019 in Jeonju, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Korean football’s K League will stream the first match of its restarted 2020 season this Friday for free to a global audience on YouTube and Twitter.

The match, between Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Suwon Samsung Bluewings, at the World Cup Stadium in the city of Jeonju, kicks off at 7pm local time. The live stream will be available with English-language commentary via the K League’s official YouTube channel and Twitter account.

League title sponsor Hana Bank will be the presenting sponsor of the stream.

Another international media rights deal for the league’s 2020 season has also been reported, with Australian telco Optus. Coverage will begin with this Friday’s opening match and continue with two live and on-demand matches per round from the K League 1 top division.

The K League’s international media rights are being distributed by sports media services company Sportradar. A deal with German platform Sportdigital Fussball was reported earlier this week.

Sportradar also announced today that deals have been struck in Hong Kong (TVB) and Malaysia and Brunei (Astro) with more territories still in negotiation. A deal has also struck in the Balkan region with pay-television broadcaster Arena TV Sports.

Sportradar added: “K League matches will also be broadcast and streamed live in China, India, Hong Kong and Israel, rounding out the number of territories at this time that the K League will be available in. Besides TV broadcast, online content platforms such as Copa90 (UK) and Laola.tv (Austria) will carry out live streaming services across Europe and the rest of the world, excluding Korea.”

On the domestic front, the league yesterday announced that all its matches will streamed live on several Korean digital media platforms, including Naver, Kakao and AfreecaTV.

Remote production

The K League is using video technology company Grabyo’s cloud video platform to produce and distribute Friday’s global stream of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors v Suwon Samsung Bluewings. The platform is enabling the league’s media production team to work remotely to deliver the stream.

Doojin Sa, head of new media at the K League, said the production team was working “with safety as our main priority, using all of the technology at our disposal to ensure only essential personnel need to be in the stadium. Grabyo’s platform and technology will enable us to reach football fans all over the world, who we know have been waiting a long time to see live football. Without this type of remote production, it would not be possible.”

Elliot Renton, senior director and head of APAC at Grabyo, said: “We have been helping sports organisations and broadcasters to engage fans in a time of no sport, and with new developments to our live and remote production capabilities, the K League are well placed to win new audiences keen to see live football via social media.”

The production work, including the addition of English-language graphics, is being handled by staff from the league’s new media production centre, which opened this season. The English commentary is being supplied remotely by Australia-based British commentator Simon Hill, who is known for his work on the Australian A-League.

The K League is restarting this Friday thanks to South Korea’s relative success in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. The league told SportBusiness this month about the extraordinary measures it is operating under in order to prevent further spread of the virus. It has published a manual outlining these measures, which is being distributed to other football leagues around the world.

The Korean baseball league, the KBO, also restarted this week, with its opening games taking place on Tuesday.