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April 29, 2016

OTT in Sport: How to Take Opportunities and Overcome Hurdles

by Pete Burns

With OTT continuing to hold strong as the buzzword in our industry, it is important to frame any discussion with clarity of the definition.

3 reasons why OTT is made for sports

I have already tried to define what it is and what its challenges are for the business, but the scenario has evolved in the last months; we have been working with Broadcaster and Pureplay operators, and it’s becoming more clear how OTT will play an important role, changing the way fans consume sport.


Going into detail, we asked ourselves:
“Why does OTT lend itself to sport more than other genres?”
For me there are 3 key areas:

Sport goes beyond traditional linear TV. This year at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, we will see 28 World Championships taking place over 18-days. Although an extreme example, event concurrency within competitions lends itself to OTT as traditional linear TV is not designed to scale for such short-term peaks.

Broadcast production creates far more content than is delivered in the feed to audiences through traditional viewing. Making available unseen content, for example multiple angles of key events, and visualising live data provides a true immersive experience for audiences. With the growth of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, I can only see this area growing.
Fans can view sports on a growing number of devices, even during live: with media streaming devices and Connected TV’s added to the growing list of smartphones and tablets in the market; global audiences expect to receive content on their devices at anytime. Having a platform that supports the introduction of new players in this market is crucial.

Business model

Looking at the ecosystem of Rights Owners, Rights Holders and Sponsors, these relationships have typically worked in collaboration.

To provide some context to how our industry is reacting and the movements within it, we re-visit a theme touched on before: the ‘disintermediation of the conversation’ between those involved in sports production and the audience.

Ultimately, this can be summed up with one word ‘Fragmentation’. Fragmentation of rights, technology and audience habits.

With the business models available, these can be split through a B2B or B2C approach, dependent on the balance between value of rights and breadth of audience.


With all of the above on the table, ultimately it is up to each individual organisation to decide on the big question:
“What are you trying to achieve?”

On the way to your goals, there will be hurdles to overcome and opportunities to take. At this stage every issue has two sides – here are some topics you should consider when planning your OTT strategy:


  • New geographies – the growth in audience and digital consumption in APAC isn’t slowing
  • Quality – 4K and VR are top of the list in exciting new areas of development
  • Content – leverage your key content available
  • Audience – possibility to identify new audiences and deepen existing relationships
  • Commercial – B2B and B2C, very strongly linked to audience strategy
  • Platforms – a wealth of new platforms to explore and evaluate
  • Marketing & CRM – vital, if you want to have a direct relationship with your audience
  • Partners – new partnership opportunities, including broadcast and sponsorship


  • New geographies – consumption habits are different to traditional Americas and European attitudes
  • Quality – how 4K and VR will pass down the chain to digital and OTT must be considered at the production level
  • Content – new content needs to be considered with existing rights strategy
  • Audience – differentiating and communicating to audiences
  • Commercial – the ability to support existing partners while growing new markets
  • Platforms – which platforms to target is strongly linked to geography and audience demographic
  • Marketing & CRM – need to know your audience; and understand them throughout the process
  • Partners – consider how existing partners can support this process

Working with small and large sport organisations, broadcasters, media companies and sponsors, we are exploring all of these topics. If you are interested in the most effective ways to leverage opportunities and overcome hurdles, we would welcome a discussion with you.

About the author

Pete Burns
Commercial Manager (UK)

After graduating in computer science I joined a technology company (Forbidden Technologies) focused on cloud based video workflows. I worked on product, project management and business development before joining deltatre in 2010.

I work closely with many of our Federation and Broadcast clients, including European PGA, Sky Sports, and BBC Future Media where I oversaw all digital projects for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

I am responsible for the commercial strategy of our video-based products and services, working closely with our product teams.

I am married with two children and enjoy running, football, judo and supporting Arsenal FC!

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