Last week, SportsPro held its annual OTT Summit in Madrid, Spain to discuss the latest topics and trends taking place in the industry.
Last week, SportsPro held its annual OTT Summit in Madrid, Spain to discuss the latest topics and trends taking place in the industry. Over 800 key people from sports, media, social networks and technology companies converged to share ideas around the future of the sports business. Plus, SportsPro organized a glamorous event to recognize all of the innovative and creative achievements from industry leaders during its inaugural OTT awards. Congratulations to all nominees and winners that were acknowledged at the ceremonies. The Kiswe team was present during the event and took away three main learnings:
Trend #1 OTT making progress but TV remains
The streaming wars in the US have now officially started. While these are still mostly non-live, the live sports owners are paying attention. More content and leagues are adopting OTT and direct to consumer monetization. It seems that the tier 1 content owners tread lightly, while lower-tier sports leagues are more aggressive. Tomos Grace from YouTube made it clear that no matter what tier the sport is in, the three basic challenges remain the same: 1) A consistent calendar of live content 2) A high-quality product and excellent customer service 3) effective marketing and content discovery. On content discovery, many of the presenters acknowledged the trend of clips on social media getting longer and longer.
The other dynamic that remains omnipresent is the choice for a content owner to either go with a social platform--which will more easily find users but get less data and brand recognition--versus the owned and operated route, which yields more data and brand recognition but has a higher acquisition challenge. We are curious to see what the future will bring!
Trend #2 Engaging a younger and more international audience
The other key item that showed up in many panels is how to grow younger and more international audiences. Twitter shared an interesting stat saying that 23% of millennials cannot be reached with traditional media. To some, that number might actually appear low. Two key trends that showed up were “Twichificiation” of content and “social watching”. More and more traditional sports are presenting Twitch style digital streams to reach a younger and more international audience.
Clearly, Twitch itself is working on it, but also innovators such as the NBA talked about their live digital production in their acclaimed League Pass app. Also, The Olympic Channel is now up to eleven languages and just added Hindi to reach a larger and more diverse audience.
The other dimension is social TV and the “watch together” trend. DAZN shared that 85% of audiences show up for live events at the same time. Another proof point was Eleven sports winning the digital production award with their “watch together” experience. Many different technologies and user experiences are being rolled out to enable watch parties, which is clearly a trend to follow.
Trend #3 Lower latency streaming
The third clear trend is low latency streaming. Lots of companies are working on getting a live streaming experience, that is closer to the live experience and seconds of latency are being shaved off. Different use cases drive this trend--from betting on social watching, to enabling more interaction between the arena and digital audience. Different technologies are being used, but they largely fall into two categories. One is more evolutionarily with adaptions of the existing HLS/Dash-like protocols enabling shorter segments or even partial segments. This has the advantage that it can reuse some of the existing content distribution and adaptive bitrate technologies. The other is companies that have embraced a more radical approach using more newer WebRTC standards, and are working on new distribution, scaling, and adaptive coding techniques. It’s not quite clear yet which factor will find the biggest adoption, but this clearly is another trend to watch.
SportsPro OTT 2019 was a high-caliber event that assembled an impressive range of industry leaders who addressed the relevant topics across the sports business. From meeting with key people to listening in on talks, we made a number of new connections and gleaned insights into the next chapter of the sports industry--which is in the middle of a critical transformation. We cannot wait to see what the next 12 months will bring and look forward to attending the event next year.
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