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Opinion | The rise of soccer clubs as media content distributors

Charles Kraus, Limelight Networks' senior product marketing manager, offers eight streaming technology innovations that could help rights holders generate deeper interaction and drive revenue.

8 June 2021 Guest Contributor

Media plays a hugely important role in strengthening how soccer clubs engage with their supporters. The key, for those who do it successfully and effectively, is sharing content that simply cannot be seen anywhere else.

Clubs have access to hundreds and hundreds of hours of exclusive material on their website that includes match footage, highlights, interviews and press conferences. Given the competition for holding onto their fanbase, and growing new supporters beyond the local region, soccer clubs have had to become media content distributors as a way of engaging with their fans, attracting new supporters, as well as adding new revenue streams.

To stay ahead of the competition, soccer clubs and rights holders must be constantly innovating when it comes to the fan experience. Broadly, increasing fan engagement with interactivity, providing more stats or data analytics will contribute to greater understanding and therefore enjoyment of a match. Crucially, it also creates brand engagement and more opportunity for promotion. Let us consider eight practical ideas to drive more fan engagement and increase the fanbase.

Start with the basics

Fans accustomed to traditional broadcast sports coverage expect a similar experience when watching a live stream of a match. This means a broadcast quality picture with no rebuffering, with the ability to watch from anywhere, on any viewing device of their choosing. Make sure options for tuning into matches are easy to find on your website, and any late, breaking team news or updates are prominently displayed.

Video on demand

When clubs provide access to video on demand archives (VOD) of match highlights they have the opportunity to extend the ways those clips can be enjoyed by fans. You can get creative in how the clips are organised and the metadata captured for each of them. For example, as match footage is reviewed for highlight potential, increase the types of plays that qualify as a highlight – top goals, most acrobatic saves by the keeper, great pieces of individual skill, beautiful passing sequences, etc.

Whether a match is streamed live from your website, or broadcast by a sports network, post highlight clips to your platforms as they occur so viewers can refer to them while watching the match live. This not only creates interaction but also benefits fans who tuned in late by enabling them to catch up on what they missed.


Various forms of personalisation are being offered as another way to drive engagement and could be structured as a premium tier subscription option. Popular offerings include key moment alerts during matches (such as goals), in-game statistics about favourite players, results, highlights, targeted relevant ads, and augmented reality overlays. There is also an ecommerce opportunity here, such as a single click offer ordering of kit tied into a key moment.

Watch together apps

Fans enjoy watching matches with their friends. This is easy if they are all locally based and can attend in person or meet in their favourite pub. To include fans living further afield, travelling, or away for various reasons, watch together apps allow small groups to enjoy a familiar comradery during a game. These apps also provide another revenue stream. It has a small delay built in to assure all participants see the match action at the same time, even those with longer stream latency than others. They can live chat with each other via a low latency connection between them, such as WebRTC links.

Support fans around the globe

Many clubs have broad support around the world. Consider offering match commentary and content on your website in a few languages with the largest population of supporters. Share information about the watch groups with overseas supporters so they may reach out to each other and be invited to join a watch group.

Innovations in the viewing experience

Broadcast coverage of sports usually includes highlight playback from multiple camera angles, but the broadcaster chooses which camera view is shown. With the right technology in place, digital coverage via a club app can now offer viewers a premium option to choose which camera angle to watch during the match, or even provide split screen views of multiple camera angles.

This concept can be extended further with the option to watch multiple matches at the same time on a split screen. This could be a popular premium option, especially during playoff tournaments with multiple games on at the same time. An additional feature for rights holders to consider is key moment alerts with a streaming cut-ins to that other live match stream.

Augmented reality overlays

With the advent of 5G, there have been successful attempts at presenting individual player statistics during live play by overlaying small data points near a player on screen. Viewers could request specific players to be tagged when they are on the field, for example the odds of them scoring a goal.


It goes without saying that some of the most exciting moments in sports come near the end of a match, with a tied or close score, overtime periods, or penalties to decide the winner. Some rights holders and platforms are experimenting with small fee access late in matches, triggered by key moment alerts to fans who may not have been watching the match.


These ideas can be implemented with technology that is here today and already being discussed or tested for driving better engagement with existing fans. Either in combination or tailored to suit individual demands, they can help rights holders to reach new markets globally, and potentially add revenue streams. Offer your supporters the best possible streaming experience and they will keep coming back for more.

Charles Kraus
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