Deltatre had a large team there, and we were also included in the distinguished lineup of speakers (more than 70 overall), along with a number of clients and partners. From content to digital transformation, from fan engagement to the ways technology and innovation are going to disrupt the sports business, many talking points caught our attention. We've rounded them up as 5 essential takeaways.
#1 Fan Engagement in the OTT Age Is a Matter of Interactivity
Deltatre’s CPMO Carlo De Marchis was among the speakers at one of the most interesting panels of SportsPro Live 2019, titled 'Driving Fan Engagement in the OTT Age'. The challenges of fan engagement, in times that are seeing over-the-top platforms growing their profile, are mostly a matter of making things as interactive as possible.
"The biggest challenge is to create a model that merges owned and operated, social and over-the-top," De Marchis stated. "Fluid fans, today, want all of this in one place."
It’s clear that over-the-top (OTT) service owners are looking to add further levels of engagement for their fans and customers, adding to what the current direct-to-consumer OTT video services offer. To 'create an enduring demand', 'operate at a scale' and 'act quickly' seem to be the must-dos for OTT providers and media brands around the world.
It’s not a matter of simply pushing a video live or for on-demand consumption to be easily accessed, not anymore. Broadcasters and content owners need to go deeper. As Carlo De Marchis said:
“OTT today encompasses a number of different elements and - at Deltatre - we have been working over the past three years to create the most comprehensive products and solutions. Interactivity plays a vital role in leveraging fan engagement."
#2 Younger Audiences Are Driving Change
Generation Z was a hot topic at SportsPro Live. Younger generations are disrupting the way sports entities communicate, and therefore, fresh unwritten rules are being set for content makers who must offer a fan-centric strategy.
Major sports organisations - such as The FA - underwent a profound digital transformation which radically changed the way they are now communicating to established and new audiences. Think of the ground-breaking social campaigns launched in the past months to re-connect fans to the English National football team, as well as specific initiatives put in place to drive grassroots and Women’s football growth.
It is essential that the editorial teams operating video and related digital services understand the psychology and humour of their audiences. We recently saw The FA achieving social success after one of their internal content team published a random video of Alexis Sanchez on the FA Cup-branded Twitter channel after he took his manager’s seat on the bench once substituted... (over 6 million views on Twitter only)!
What’s funny is… that this moment was not planned. The main lesson learnt here is: be prepared, the stories fans want to see and hear about are real, sometimes unpolished, and often happening where you wouldn’t expect them to be.
Read more here about filling the white space of content
#3 New Ways to Engage a Community: Incremental PPV Offering
Media and OTT providers are continually looking for new ways to build and engage communities. One trending method of monetising content video content is incremental pay-per-view (PPV). By offering non-recurring transactional options to users, and letting them purchase their favourite events seems to be the path several major OTT video players are pursuing.
With younger digital-first audiences upsetting established structures, PPV offers characterised by great flexibility are good for the content seller and the end consumer. Examples show the interactions as purely one to one, via push notifications, offering a rich user experience. PPV builds loyalty by offering a low-barrier purchasing choice that is equal to, or better than contemporary audiences’ expectations.
#4 Digital Commercialisation
Regularly achieving deeper consumer engagement is a must, even for established sports organisations with a loyal and well-defined audience. At SportsPro Live, European Tour’s Chief Executive, Keith Pelley, presented the current effort of digital commercialisation that European Tour is undergoing. It was clear that trends and habits are constantly evolving, and a critical consideration in the future is expected to be focusing on existing audiences, as well as new ones, in parallel with innovation.
"The previous currency was ratings, the new one is engagement," Pelley stated.
Formula 1's Managing Director of Commercial Operations, Sean Bratches, presented a similar picture. He explained that is was essential to delight existing audiences, and educate casual viewers to convert them into regular fans. Important growth metrics include social media followers and content views.
#5 Fighting Piracy in Premium Sports Broadcasting
Jean-Marc Racine, CPO and General Manager EMEA at Synamedia, stated that there will be up to $50 billion in lost revenues by 2022, due to illegal streams. Piracy is - sadly - rife in the video space, which sees sports streaming as one of the main “slices” of the cake beside music and the film industry. It was estimated that around 4.9 million people in the UK (as per YouGov.co.uk latest report in 2017) are accessing illegal streams or paying for subscriptions to illegal streaming services.
With shifting patterns of piracy in sports streaming, rights holders are encouraged to protect their content more effectively. Further, a goal should always be to capitalise on the unfortunate, but very present opportunity to convert illegal users in legitimate subscribers.
That’s a Wrap
SportsPro Live 2019 provided another successful couple of days for the industry to meet. Technology and sports experts came together under the same roof, and a lot of dynamic and constructive sharing has resulted in a strong idea of what awaits us as tomorrow takes shape. See you all in 2020!