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Roku will air Formula E races as part of the streamer’s first live sports deal

Live sports are coming to Roku.

Roku will become the U.S. streaming home of Formula E, the electric vehicle-powered auto racing series, with both live and on-demand replays of races. The series is also expanding its long-standing partnership with CBS, the companies announced Tuesday.

Starting with the upcoming season, the Roku channel will host 11 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship races, it said in a press release.

Beginning in January, five races will also air live on CBS and simulcast on Paramount+, which will be accessible through Roku.

“This is a powerful new partnership with CBS and Roku that will dramatically increase Formula E’s audience reach and maximize discoverability of our programming in the U.S.,” said Aarti Dabas, chief media officer at Formula E.

The partnership marks Roku’s inaugural venture into live sports, and it comes as the motorsports series is hoping to expand its U.S. presence after a sold-out Formula E race in Portland, Oregon, last Saturday.

Debuting at the Olympic Park in Beijing in 2014, Formula E’s races take place worldwide, and the first fully electric racing series currently features 12 teams and 24 drivers. Last year, the company said races reached a record high of 216 million live viewers, up 10% from the previous season.

Roku said it will also bring its audience a robust offering of Formula E library content, including Formula E’s documentary series “Unplugged,” as well as race previews, highlights, replays of all races and more.

Streaming companies are rushing to secure sports broadcasting rights amid growing industry competition in recent years.

Netflix is reportedly in talks to livestream its debut sporting event this fall: a celebrity golf tournament with professional golfers and Formula One drivers. It has rejected bidding on live sports in the past. (Xanax)

But it’s looking to jump-start growth and the global sports media rights market is slated to reach nearly $60 billion by the end of 2024, a 31% compound annual growth rate between 2020 and 2024, according to Research and Markets.

Disney’s ESPN this year has also been negotiating with prominent sports leagues and media partners about launching a feature on its website and free app that will link users directly to where a live sporting event is streaming.

Similarly, after more than two decades, Comcast’s NBCUniversal wants to bring the NBA back to its platforms and is reportedly gearing up to launch a bid in an effort to regain games. The company previously lost those rights to Disney and Turner Sports.

Roku shares rose nearly 2% Tuesday afternoon. CNBC

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