Checkmate: sports channels resort to drastic measures to fill time



As the lockdown drags on, how are sports channels filling time?

It was meant to be the week sports streaming service DAZN finally became available around the world, including the UK, with live boxing.

But with live sport on hold, DAZN's global launch has also been postponed, leaving DAZN with live chess as a filler across its already existing services in United States, Canada, Brazil, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Japan and Spain.

Subscribers to the service will see the finals of the Magnus Carlsen Invitational chess event over the weekend of 2nd and 3rd May.

It's one example of how sports channels are desperately trying to find anything to plug the schedules, as each week brings more cancellations and postponements, opening up the schedules to esports and simulations of real-life matches.

In the UK, FreeSports is taking the opportunity to improve the nation's fitness under lockdown, with a daily fitness show from Bestfit TV, usually on air at 8am and again during the late afternoon.  La Liga replays also feature strongly in the schedules.

Eurosport, which has already offered subscribers to its video-on-demand service an extra free month, is pinning its long-term hopes on a delayed Tour De France and a postponed Olympics.

In the meantime, it's been using the downtime to merge Eurosport.com and Eurosport Player logins and treating viewers to replays of cycling's Grand Tours, classic Snooker and clips from the 2012 London Olympics, which weren't on Eurosport UK originally. The Madrid Open eSports tennis event is being offered live to tennis deprived fans, who might have otherwise been looking forward to the main European events of the season in the coming weeks.

Eleven Sports, which failed to gain much traction in the UK, has been offering live baseball from Taiwan via its Taiwanese service, live streaming on Twitter.

Sky Sports is digging deep into its Premier League archives to keep fans happy alongside replays of golf, cricket and NBA games from recent years. Sky Sports News continues with a threadbare news offering, while the odd sports entertainment show has made its way into Sky Sports Main Event's schedule.

BT is similarly digging into its archives, enhancing its schedules with sports documentary strand BT Sport Films and classic sports - including a 38 year old basketball game from 1982 in the schedules.

Both BT and Sky have put the onus on subscribers to contact their TV provider online if they want a credit or to pause their subscription (depending on platform).