3 trends from SportsPro OTT, 2019

25.11.19

by Jason Bradwell

Fresh off a flight from Spain last Friday, my head was spinning. Not in a “I’ve had too much Sangria” kind of way, but from a “wow, that was incredible” kind of way.

25.11.19

by Jason Bradwell

Fresh off a flight from Spain last Friday, my head was spinning. Not in a “I’ve had too much Sangria” kind of way, but from a “wow, that was incredible” kind of way.

I had spent the previous three days at the SportsPro OTT conference in Madrid, sitting in on panel after keynote after panel from some of the most innovative companies transforming the way the world consumes sport.

Whether it was hearing from a panel of rights owners and rights holders on the fragmentation of sports OTT, representatives from Twitch, Gfinity and Team Vitality paint an exciting future of eSports, or our own Adam Nightingale address the need of OTT operators to “understand, adapt and act” in order to compete in a crowded market, I came away from the event excited to see what the next twelve months in sport technology will bring.

Below I’ve summarised some of the key insights from the event that stood out to me the most. Enjoy!

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PS. Just in case you didn’t hear, Deltatre came away with the ‘Best Tech Company’ award from SportsPro’s inaugural ceremony - you can read the news story here. Fun fact, the trophy itself weighed over 4 kilos and required a team of Deltatre staff to carry home. 🏆

Understand, Adapt, Act

On Wednesday, our own Adam Nightingale sat down with Kayo Sports, beIN Media Group, Facebook and NativeWaves to unpack the topic of ‘Maintaining Engagement’ in an OTT world. What sang through the whole panel was the need for speed.

Today’s streaming marketplace is crammed with options for consumers. Competition for eyeballs has never been so fierce. Operators can’t afford to spend eighteen months building and fine-tuning an MVP – by the time it launches, it’ll already be out of the date.

“Get it live and don’t overcomplicate,” said Adam. “It’s important to understand your audience, how they like to consume content and adapt accordingly as you go along.”

Achieving this is easier said than done. Implementing the right engagement tools that enable editorial and marketing teams to take actionable insights and act on them in real-time is key. It’s ineffective to throw analytics at an audience problem; you need to move beyond the dashboard and be agile enough to react to trends as they emerge.

Get it live and don’t overcomplicate. It’s important to understand your audience, how they like to consume content and adapt accordingly as you go along.

OTT Division | SVP, Commercial

Consolidation vs. Fragmentation

Across the three-day event, there was a palpable feeling of friction in the air. No, it wasn’t caused by the mass of bodies swarming around the single espresso machine in the networking lounge. It came from the elephant in the room; how can rights owners and rights holders both co-exist and monetise in an increasingly competitive OTT marketplace?

There was plenty of consensus from leagues, federations, and teams looking to build a direct-to-consumer relationship that there is no desire to directly compete with the broadcasters signing their cheques and acquiring live rights for eye-watering sums. However, there is also a recognition that the 21st-century fan is hungry for content both on and off the field – and OTT is the perfect mechanism in which to deliver it to them.

Content that goes behind-the-scenes of tournaments or competitions, live data and statistics, and even virtual reality were all touted on the panel ‘OTT Saturation’ as opportunities for rights owners to maximize the opportunity to build a connection with their fan base. What’s key, Micky Lawler, President at WTA, is to take a personalized streaming approach, country-by-country, to create a complementary relationship that helps the broadcaster grow their service and the popularity of the sport itself.

Is it correct to believe that a consumer will pay for fifteen different platforms on which to access sports content? Probably not. There will have to be some degree of consolidation. What was agreed was the need to make things as easy as possible for the consumer. “We need to figure out a way to make OTT frictionless to fans, where it feels really smooth. That will be the biggest challenge,” said Craig Hepburn, UEFA’s Head of Digital.

The Rise and Rise of eSports

It’s expected to hit $1bn in market value next year. The largest event in its history drew 173,000 people to a stadium in Katowice, Poland and over 45 million who tuned in online. It’s even been considered for the Olympics.

I am, of course, talking about eSports.

Almost every industry event we attend has several panels or keynotes devoted to the rise of the phenomenon that is competitive gaming and for good measure. What was once considered the ‘wild west’ of OTT is transforming into an attractive and monetizable medium of attracting young, digitally savvy audiences.

But it’s not easy. Unlike film, television and, to a certain degree, ‘traditional’ sports content, delivering an eSports experience comes with a unique set of considerations that were unpacked by Gfinity, Twitch and Team Vitality on a panel titled focussed on the subject.

For instance, watchers of eSports are community-minded. They watch together with friends, both in-person but more so digitally, so need the appropriate functionality to chat, message and engage with one another as the content plays out. There’s a huge range of video games out there that need to be discoverable and surfaced based on the unique interests of the end-user – while avoiding cluttering the UI with too much information. And adding interactive elements, such as live data, polls, questionnaires and gamification, can keep audiences locked into your platform.

Ultimately, it comes down to the very essence of what makes us tune in to watch our favorite athletes compete – storytelling. “Tell great stories and bring your heroes to the fore,” said Amanda Lawson, Global Head of Content at Gfinity. “You have to produce great, quality editorial.”

Here, at Deltatre, we’ll be keeping a close eye on eSports and how our technology can help operators investing in its growth reach, understand and monetize their audiences.

Tell great stories and bring your heroes to the fore.

Amanda Lawson, Global Head of Content at Gfinity

Closing Up

SportsPro OTT was another important event for us here at Deltatre, and not only because we brought home the title of ‘Best Tech Company’. It reaffirmed the innovation that pulses through our industry like a living thing. Here at Deltatre we’re proud to work with clients and partners that are truly pushing the envelope in what makes an unforgettable fan experience. It was fantastic to see so many of them sharing the spotlight in Madrid last week.

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