The shifting sands of sports audiences and the content they consume

Matt Smith, vice president and principal evangelist, media at Brightcove, delves into the "online renaissance".

The shifting sands of sports audiences and the content they consume

There is no denying the notion that video powers our daily lives. From social networks like Snapchat and Facebook, to digital behemoths like Amazon, video is part of the fabric of everything they do.

Just over one year ago, Snapchat rolled out its Discover product, which conglomerated social updates, video, imagery, and other information from publications, television programmers, and even sports leagues. These entities leverage the platform to reach new generations of video consumers on screens when and where those viewers choose.

The stakes are high for these video publishers as they make big bets on audiences who are redefining not only how content is consumed, but also how it is prepared, managed, and delivered.

Measuring the winds of change

The massive global growth of mobile devices has created a sea of change in how we as viewers watch television and view video of all kinds. Service providers have been under particular pressure as they shed subscribers in recent years. Traditionally, service providers have been the source many turn to in order to watch television – especially sports content – given the rights secured by various networks. These very expensive rights have driven up the cost of television packages over the past many years.

This trend has given rise to over-the-top (OTT) offerings, for a variety of reasons. First, the mobile-first audience wants their content on their devices, and ‘traditional’ programmers want to give it to them. Second, digital-first programmers, a la carte sports leagues, and networks see OTT as a very cost-effective path to their viewers. Last but certainly not least, these new video offerings represent a new and very welcome revenue stream, where digital ads replace those that appeared in the broadcast.

Future battle lines are being drawn beyond sports. Disney chief executive Robert Iger announced recently that future entries in the wildly popular Star Wars and Marvel series will be streamed exclusively on Disney’s upcoming OTT offerings. Expect to see this same trend with sports content too.

The audience is there – build the stadium already

Today we are seeing the online video equivalent of a renaissance period, where new networks, niche content, and sports leagues of all shapes and sizes are standing up services every month. OTT video is changing the economics of ‘channels’ in that they cost orders of magnitude less to launch than their broadcast brethren who came before them. Never before has it been less expensive to launch a channel. And the audience is there.

We know that live video alone will grow 15 times over the next five years. The tools and intelligent workflows are open and ready for business, too. To deliver a live event today calls for complexity beyond simply acquiring a live signal, converting it to streams, and then delivering it to viewers. Now, we must enable editing of the event in real time, where a big play or goal in a match can be clipped and distributed to social networks or apps immediately. Additionally, we’re providing features like Cloud DVR, so that a viewer can pause a live event or scrub back to the beginning if they caught the event in progress. In all these cases, the online video components in today’s marketplace are helping create viewing experiences that are better than broadcast. 

Live events have been a significant growth area for Brightcove in 2017. We’ve hosted sizable live events in 2017, all over the globe. Recently, we helped deliver the Mayweather-McGregor and the Pacquiao-Horn fights for Foxtel in Australia and the US Open with Brightcove Live.  In India, we helped our customer Sony LIV host the 2017 Cricket Championships, which nearly 4 million viewers watched using our streaming technology. Further, sports brands like Salomon are leveraging the turnkey nature of OTT Flow to quickly ship apps for Roku and Apple TV, and all use our powerful hosting and publishing platform, Video Cloud. Brightcove spends every day working with sports customers across the globe to transform the experience and economics of video.

Matt Smith is vice president and principal evangelist, media at Brightcove. To learn more, visit brightcove.com