The global differentiator for sports: an interview with MX1

Dana Dar, director of product marketing, sports and events at global channel and content distribution network MX1, tells SportsPro about the company’s formation, the challenges that it has faced, and the opportunities opening up in the sector over the coming years.

The global differentiator for sports: an interview with MX1

What is the MX1 story? What opportunity did you spot in the marketplace?

We are a subsidiary of [satellite communications solutions provider] SES and were formed in 2016 by merging two complementary companies together, RR Media and SES Platform Services, to combine their best services and form a single provider with a genuinely global offering of end-to-end customized solutions for media platforms. We offer a global infrastructure encompassing all delivery methods – whether that be satellite, fibre, IP or otherwise – we can ensure we find the best-fit solutions for our customers. Different customers have different needs; broadcasters differ to sports agencies and they are different in turn to sports federations. All though have common ground in needing to aggregate, manage and get their content to as wide an audience of end-users as possible, and that’s where we come in.

What have been the biggest changes in the last few years in people's expectations of a media platform?

The demand now is for high-quality content on multiple devices. Whether it’s a large screen in 4K, viewing on a tablet or a mobile device, viewers expect to be able to watch what they want, when they want, on any and all devices. Delivering this effectively and cost-efficiently is not simply a cut and paste job though: the nature of the experience varies between sports and between devices and the service viewers are provided needs to be tailored accordingly.

How do you manage the process of creating media solutions?

Our MX1 360 media production platform is truly end-to-end. From ingest through editing to delivery and working in the hybrid cloud, it is capable of handling all aspects of the content management process and interfaces well with third party tools. But we don’t tie people to it. It’s there, it’s incredibly powerful, and it’s always an option, but clients are free to use the tools that suit their established workflows if they so require. And we are always on the lookout for new and exciting technologies and seeking how to use them to best suit our customers’ needs.

Are content producers becoming more savvy in tailoring their content for different devices? What are some of the best examples you've seen?

There is a growing understanding that viewers across different devices are different and some devices are used better — and indeed are more popular — for long-form and short-form content. Content producers know their fans, especially in niche sports where viewer’s preferences might differ from the baseline, and therefore need to make sure they provide the content in the best format to increase visibility and engagement.

In what ways might the needs of a rights holder client differ from those of a major broadcaster or media company?

They follow different business models and have different end users, therefore the way we approach them needs to be different too. Whether we are looking at a simple distribution of the rights to increase reach, efficiency and monetization, or whether we are looking at broadcasters who know their fans and need to manage their content differently to provide best experience for their viewers, the solution has to be tailored to fit. Sports federations are increasingly becoming media providers and so we also work closely with them on how to customize our solutions for their specific needs and audiences.

As access to media tools becomes ever more democratised, what are the best ways for a product or service to stand out?

As always, it comes down to offering great customer service coupled with the ability to be flexible and react quickly to changes in this dynamic market.

What are some of the most important developments to look out for in the year ahead?

The main trend is going to be an increase in digital. As we become more informed and experienced in our understanding of how to best use and monetize digital platforms, we will see an increase in the improvement and deepening of the fan experience in their execution. The data being used by teams and coaches to make decisions during an event will gradually find its way to the viewer. On the broadcaster side we will see more and more movement to IP production and IP delivery, while improvements in display quality will see an increasing uptake in 360-degree video as more households buy into VR. There are also some really interesting developments in AI which could start having an impact in product automation.

Dana Dar is the director of product marketing for sports and events at MX1, a global network for channel and content distribution.

Dana has an extensive background in the Sports Technology and Broadcasting industry with a true passion for sports and a real understanding of the broadcasting industry, sports organizations, players and fan experience. Dana spent the first part of her career as a sports reporter and producer, covering a wide array of sports; reporting from large events such as the NBA Finals and Super Bowl; and being involved in the entire workflow of the live sports production.

Today she is involved with the product marketing and business development side of technologies for the global sports broadcasting industry; including all media, digital strategies, original content creation and management and delivery for the various sports stakeholders.