How sports OTT services can avoid the same subscriber slowdown as Netflix


by Benjamin Causse

Benjamin Causse, Senior Vice President, Business Development, explains why refining the user experience will help sports OTT platforms attract subscribers and reduce churn


by Benjamin Causse

Benjamin Causse, Senior Vice President, Business Development, explains why refining the user experience will help sports OTT platforms attract subscribers and reduce churn

Recently we’ve heard a lot about a slowdown in the streaming industry. Netflix subscriber growth is sputtering. Other platforms are also struggling to hit growth targets.

There are reasons for this.

There is a cost-of-living crisis. Inflation is rising – at the time of writing it stands at 9.1 per cent in the UK and 8.6 per cent in the US. Energy bills and the cost of filling a family car are at levels not seen for decades.

It follows that people would then look to cut down on “nonessentials”, and this includes leisure pursuits such as streaming services. The “subscription economy” is facing its first real reckoning.

We’ve seen many new entrants to the market, all aiming to challenge the hegemony that Netflix and Disney have enjoyed. Some of these entrants are huge, global brands with big budgets to play with. Others are more niche services, aimed at attracting a captive audience within a specific sphere.

Ultimately, there are only so many available users. As this battle for eyeballs has intensified, customers have begun to choose which services they can do without.

Added to this is streaming fatigue. People emerging from a period in which they spent more time indoors glued to their screens have simply grown bored of what’s on offer and are instead looking to other activities for stimulation.

So, what does this mean for those of us on the vendor side?

At Deltatre, we’re responsible for offering specialist innovations in over-the-top (OTT) streaming, websites and apps, graphics, data, officiating systems, user experience, and product design.

This means working with clients to boost both interaction through innovative tools like live blogging, next-gen stats and visualisations, interactive video players, and so on.

Right now, our focus is on answering an important question: how can we attract and retain users to streaming services? And user experience plays a big part in this.

According to research conducted by PwC, content and UX have an equal effect on perceived value. For those operators streaming live sports, think of interaction during live games via interactive timelines and engaging layers, watch-together features, and so on.

As the adage says, it’s only live once. And this is where sports OTT services must refine their front-end proposition to go beyond the sit-back experience, especially if they are vying for customers with those that have wider content offerings.

It may also be an evolution in terms of a service’s back end – alongside better UX management tools that boost content discovery and reduce churn. This, on top of developing a clear brand identity through sophisticated design, is crucial in the battle to win customers, stay relevant to them, and retain their attention over time.

Often, we work with clients that want to bring a new product or service to market. In challenging conditions, this requires careful consultation and strategising. Additionally, there are those clients that are looking to rethink and revamp their existing offering, both in terms of design and pricing model. As the market contracts, both need precise positioning and roadmaps.

And this is just as true for a “niche” service. When consumers are considering which services to keep and which ones to dispense with, don’t assume that they’ll automatically keep all the biggest brands with the largest content collection. Indeed, for smaller services, this is an opportunity to prove their worth and differentiation – especially those that deal with live sport.

Among all the talk of the streaming slowdown, we should stop to pause and reflect. In fact, despite the changing market dynamics, consumers aren’t turning away from streaming as a concept. Mega deals involving sports and entertainment streaming services are reported on the media every week.

The key is combining affordability with a content offering that the user finds indispensable and an experience that is best-in-class.