What is the Future for Sports Broadcasting?

This week the great and the good of the sports media world will meet at Sportel Monaco.  High on the agenda of many meetings during the convention will no doubt be the question, ‘how should sports rights owners and holders best adjust their business models to make the most of emerging new technologies?’.

The OTT revolution has rocked the entire broadcast industry, but nowhere has this been more keenly felt than in the arena of sports media, where live streaming now offers a credible primary screen option for live sports. Not long ago, fans were only able to access content via linear channels. In this brave new world viewing choices are now abundant. And as ratings across linear and TV fall, fans are not switching off but rather switching to mobile or social platforms.

The new breed of sports broadcaster

These advances in technology and evolving consumer habits have presented enormous opportunity. High profile new entrants include the likes of Facebook and Amazon. Digital sports broadcasters, such as DAZN and Eleven Sports, are disrupting the landscape further, challenging traditional broadcasters and presenting opportunities for rights owners worldwide. The pace of this evolution has been impressive, begging the question ‘what’s next?’

It is widely agreed that rights models will continue to evolve as sports federations and leagues realise the worth of going direct-to-consumer. Brand new revenue opportunities can now be generated from sports video using emerging live streaming technologies.

As Michele Gosetti of Eurovision Media Services said in a recent SportsPro article: These options give rights owners the opportunity to extend their reach to additional online audiences. They can connect directly to their fans, gather data and engage with them in a more personalised manner.

Furthermore, we do see certain sports properties that were lesser known and only broadcast online gaining traction because they were able to tap into their fanbase and leverage this to monetise their content.

However, rather than an either/or approach to the distribution of sports content, the convergence of broadcast and OTT platforms may well strengthen.

OTT also offers a new media promotion space prior, during and after major sports events, for which broadcasting remains a key distribution platform as well,” says Simon Trudelle of NAGRA.

So it’s not one or the other with linear and OTT but more a question of how to best combine OTT and broadcasting to increase awareness and reach while delivering the right user experience to any fan group.

Emerging tech

How this convergence evolves will in part depend on the evolution of the technology that enables it and how that technology is adopted.

Key to the success of OTT live streaming is quality and latency.  The race to chase down latency is well and truly on. And there are solutions to the scalability issues that can cause disasters during live sports events when audiences figures can jump from thousands to hundreds of thousands in a matter of seconds. Adoption of public cloud is the key and will enable rights holders to offer a spectrum of use-cases not achievable with on-premise infrastructure.

Rather than leap head first into a complete cloud delivery, rights holders can dip their toe in the water with specific use cases,” says M2A CEO, Marina Kalkanis.

“Cloud-based live streaming capacity can be adopted for just the most important channels or for specific top-tier events. This can be by implementing a Disaster Recovery or Diverse Pathway solution.

This not only makes technical sense, by adding resilience to the product, but commercial sense too because with cloud infrastructure you’re only paying for the up-time you use.”

Meanwhile, to stay ahead and drive audience engagement broadcasters are looking to deploy AR powered initiatives, AI-determined cognitive highlights and 360-degree camera angles. The use of 4K, HDR and UHD is also growing steadily. Sports broadcasters must embrace these emerging technologies if they are to capitalise fully on their investment in sports rights.

In order to achieve the growth potential demanded by their deep-pocketed backers, the new sports OTT broadcasters will also have to venture into emerging markets, where broadband penetration may not be as deep as traditional mature markets; presenting further delivery and scalability challenges.

The new breed of service provider

This conflict between the desire to innovate and practical on-the-ground challenges will require broadcasters to choose their service providers wisely. They will need to work with companies that can be agile and instantly responsive to their needs.

M2A Media is part of this breed of nimble and adaptable service providers. Our cloud-native products allow us to fully exploit and leverage the opportunities of instantly scalable and open API architectures. We adhere to a philosophy of continuous deployment, allowing our services to be adaptive, cost-effective and responsive to the needs of our clients.

If you are looking for a next generation service provider to build your next generation sports service, talk to us.