A recent report by PwC claims that sports organizations will see their revenues fall by as much as 30-40% due to the global pandemic. This is hardly surprising when you consider the massive upheaval the industry has faced this year. Canceled sporting events have not only impacted broadcasting revenues, but also all-important incomes from sponsorship and match-day transactions.
Despite this, broadcasting remains important for sports, accounting for a global value of around $50 billion. While coronavirus has led to sports events being canceled it has also had the opposite effect on media consumption, where a stark rise has been driven largely by people spending a lot more time at home. Sports broadcasters have had to very quickly adapt to ensure the continued delivery of engaging content despite the lack of live events and matches. We are now beginning to see some return to live sporting fixtures, but the landscape remains vastly different. This means that even where there are live matches to cover, broadcasters need to find new ways to create an engaging atmosphere with no fans on site.
User experience and engagement
At Accedo, we have always been a proponent of the importance of user experience engagement. This is more true than ever within the sports vertical. Fans are generally loyal to their favorite sports and teams and are always looking for new ways to engage with them through video and added-value content. Throughout 2020, enabling this has been a challenge so it is up to the broadcasters and sports OTT providers to find new and innovative ways to engage and entertain their users.
As the year progressed and it became painfully obvious that normality is yet some time away, sports content providers began to adapt. This has involved a variety of different approaches, such as delving into archives to deliver classic games or clips of historic moments. Other sports content providers have opted to increase the flexibility of their subscriptions.
The pandemic has also accelerated the shift from linear TV to OTT. Much of this is fuelled by the widespread disruption to people’s working days, making it more attractive than ever to be able to consume whatever content you want exactly when you want it. OTT opens up a wealth of opportunities to increase engagement further, with interactive elements (such as Augmented Reality and social watching) as well as personalization of the UX and content based on data-driven insights. This all adds up to provide an improved and much more engaging experience for the user.
One company that aims to maximize this trend is the brand new sports streaming venture, Buzzer, which recently succeeded in raising $4 million in seed funding. What is interesting about Buzzer is that its platform will be targeted mainly towards a younger demographic, by offering short-form clips of key sporting moments in real-time in a setting that very much mimics social platforms.
Sports in a post-Covid era
Eventually, the global pandemic and associated lockdowns will be a distant memory, and lives around the world will slowly return to normal. However, does this mean that sports broadcasting will simply go back to how it was in the pre-Covid era? At Accedo, we doubt that this will be the case. The challenges of 2020 have accelerated the need to adapt, but the innovations that have powered said adaptations will remain an interesting value-add for many services.
There will be a few key areas for sports content providers to consider as the industry continues to evolve post-pandemic:
- The evolution of sporting rights – will it remain the domain of pay-TV operators or is there to be a greater push from OTT video providers?
- Social media integration – how can sports content providers maximize their potential to drive engagement, especially among a younger audience?
- Monetization – many providers have opted to give users free or discounted access to premium services, but what models will work in a world post-Covid?
- 5G – what impact will the technology have on the sports OTT landscape?
To address these questions, we have gathered together a panel of experts from Buzzer, ROKU, and Accedo. Join us on December 10th as we discuss the impact of Covid-19 on sports broadcasting and attempt to answer some key questions relating to the future evolution of sports OTT.
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