3 takeaways from Sportel Monaco 2019


by Marco Lorenzi

With summer now in the rearview mirror, October brought to us one of the most prestigious events of the year.


by Marco Lorenzi

With summer now in the rearview mirror, October brought to us one of the most prestigious events of the year.

Monaco’s Grimaldi Forum was the stage for the 30th edition of Sportel, the famous exhibition, and trade floor for the international sports media and technology industries. This year’s edition was filled with anticipation for an internationally recognised event where the business elite meets and gives shape to the future of sport. A buzzy exhibition floor welcomed thousands of guests on each of the three days, animating the discussion around the key topics in the industry.

As always, we were there with an agenda packed to the brim with meetings and product demos at our booth. Here are our key takeaways from the show.

#1. Owned and operated, a new horizon with OTT on the radar

Is the golden age of social media over? No, we don’t believe so. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram aren’t going anywhere, at least not any time soon. However, the sports business sector is shifting with regard to the way rights owners and rights holders are approaching social media. The focus is moving towards owned-and-operated (O&O) digital outputs for one very simple reason - social media platforms don’t grant access to user data, and a solid strategy related to every single aspect of the user journey is paramount to drive revenue and engagement.

In this context, OTT is playing an essential role as we witness a convergence of the video streaming space with O&O properties. Multiple revenue streams can be opened by rights owners and holders, trying to consolidate their position. That’s why OTT platforms in the sports space are looking to enrich their editorial content proposition to match the high expectations of today’s fans.

Keeping the entire ecosystem within the same space and platform (in the form of a proper ‘one-stop-shop’ for the end-user) ensures better-centralised control of the whole marketing mix - from engagement to acquisition funnels with a close eye on every touchpoint. Indeed, organisations have always collected data from season tickets holders, fan loyalty programs and various other sources. Today, these data silos - usually stored within CRM systems - need to be accessed and utilised more intuitively.

#2. Betting and gamification, new frontiers for monetisation

Sportel 2019 was the perfect occasion for the industry to focus on emerging trends that may change the course of this space in the short to mid-term. In particular, betting emerged as one of the most hotly debated topics when it came to the subject of monetisation.

Among the main stakeholders, sports leagues, in particular, are becoming aware of the fact that betting ‘infotainment’ content has the potential to drive higher levels of fan engagement. It also opens up new marketing opportunities around targeted, custom branding, and paths to reach new audiences and convert them into regular fans that return week on week.

The OTT space, in particular, is taking steps to develop a would-be lucrative relationship with legalised sports gambling. Beyond the legal ramifications, one of the biggest challenges for operators remains confined within the boundaries of technological development. There is an increasing demand for more data and - most importantly - less latency. The potential growth of gambling and its appearance on OTT platforms will, therefore, inevitably transform the way companies work. There’s a need to be faster, anticipate change, and, in the long term, remove latency as far as possible from video streams.

Gamification also had its moment at Sportel. An experience that brings fans closer to the action in a personalised and interactive way enhances content strategies. In an era of fierce competition for eyeballs in the live space, it becomes crucial for operators to focus on ways through which end users can be kept engaged longer and in a more profitable way, especially when no premium live content is on. Deltatre has recently partnered with LiveLike, adding new layers of interactivity to the video player DIVA, all with the aim of keeping fans engaged around live content.

#3. Is technology ready to meet the needs of today’s fans?

Finally, technology. How can organisations keep up with the expectation of today’s sports fans? What emerged in Monaco this year is the need, now more urgent than ever, to think carefully about how to distribute sports content following the acquisition of its rights. Sports entities need strong technological partners, able to present them with solutions to achieve their business goals. And, most importantly, flexibility and quick rollouts were top of the priority list.

From an investment perspective, the main areas of interest are around media and content, measurement platforms for data capture and acquisition - as mentioned previously - and eSports. That’s where investors are looking at for the near future, and with important events such as the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, they may come to represent a make-or-break moment.

Closing thoughts

Sportel Monaco 2019 was another brilliant event to stay current with what the industry has to offer today. With a new year of world-class events now around the corner, sports properties and technology partners are looking to strengthen their presence in the space and take the digital side of sports to the next level.

What did you think of this years’ Sportel? Leave us a comment on our Twitter or LinkedIn profiles and let us know.


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