With new technology creating more opportunities for OTT platforms in sports broadcasting, new business models are emerging for amateur sports leagues and smaller venues, says Pixellot Chief Executive Alon Werber.
New automated production solutions enable leagues without broadcast deals to produce all their games at a low cost and then stream them through their own and third-party platforms. Automated production completely changes the dynamics for smaller teams.
By being able to offer fans shareable or editable content and interactive viewing experiences – a big advantage compared to traditional TV broadcasts – they can significantly increase fan engagement.
Streaming services offer young viewers the formats they are used to on mobile devices, on the go and on demand. Today, broadcasters are paying record fees to reach fewer people on traditional TV, while simultaneously people are changing how they tune in. With more sports content becoming available through OTT channels and streaming quality improving, digital rights will increase in value as viewership rises.
While the most expensive leagues will surely continue selling their rights to broadcasters, a shift in tier 2 sports is highly likely. These leagues are better off looking for OTT platforms and affordable automated production solutions to gain more exposure and even funding and sponsorships for their games.
Streaming format isn’t the only tech driver. Automated, full-game production and highlight reels deliver an almost TV-like experience. Highlight reels and the ability for fans to create short clips allows more people to experience the game again and again – and share their favorite plays on social media.
Social media metrics show that the possibility for on-demand watching has a significant impact on fan engagement. Video clips of these games on popular social networks receive thousands of views less than 24 hours after the game.
The shift hasn’t only taken place in focusing on the highlights vs. linear watching but also how viewers interact with the content. Digital content that is shareable and even editable generates a high level of engagement, particularly in the younger demographics.
What we are likely to see in the future is a complete change in sports broadcasting. Sports channels will cease to exist in the format we know them today.
To survive the current cord cutting trend, they’ll have to add streaming to their offers and build diverse, personalised subscription options, combining incumbent TV and OTT similar to what ESPN is doing at the moment.
Sport fans will pay more for the content they want but won’t buy a buffet of sports channels. For example: If you’re a hockey fan, you will pay for an all-hockey channel and not a premium channel that also broadcasts hockey.
Non-professional leagues will offer their own direct-to-consumer live platforms and will become the broadcaster and operator. Ultimately, we will see a renaissance in online sports as viewers transition to digital watching.
Low-cost production technologies are likely to produce more content and offer more streaming hours of every type of game out there – amateur, lower-tier professional sports, women’s sports, local leagues, club teams, intramural sports and more.
Alon Werber is Chief Executive Officer at Pixellot.