Maximizing Fan Engagement with Sports OTT
For sports teams and organisations, the fans are all important. They are a demanding audience, always expecting the highest quality in coverage as well as a wealth of background detail and stories about the players and clubs.
In short, sports fans actively want to be involved with their favourite teams and players, and content rights holders should seize this expectant market to maximise engagement and, potentially, to boost revenues.
At the top end of sport, the big specialist broadcasters, not to mention newspapers, carry a lot of this load, providing extensive coverage. But this is out of the control of the organisers and teams, who may want to control their own agenda, ensuring fan engagement is on their own terms.
For lower-tier teams and sports, developing a rich online presence is a powerful way to build close relationships with fans, and to engage on the same level as the very biggest (and richest).
Online video is now everywhere. More than 80% of internet traffic is video. Taking a positive approach to online video is a natural step for any sports body, where the prime interest is in bringing the action to the fans. Any sports body, at almost any level, should be sharing video content.
There are two distinct categories. Video on demand (VoD) is content that the audience searches for and watches at a convenient time. YouTube is the biggest and most famous VoD provider.
Streamed video is like a television channel that anyone can set up and run. Programmes are “broadcast” at predictable times, but sent online rather than over the air. Because streamed video and VoD are sent over the top of the internet, they are often referred to as OTT services.
To maximise engagement, the interest is likely to be in OTT for sport. Some content will be streamed – live games, most obviously, but also interviews and news about the club – alongside an accumulating library of VoD content. Club or federation sponsors may want to advertise, so the streaming system has to support the insertion of commercials.
The rights to live action may be restricted, because a primary sports right holder has first claim on it. You may be able to show the action only after a certain delay, or only to registered fans, possibly in a defined geographic area. You will certainly want to register who is watching: perhaps to charge a subscription, but certainly to build a marketing database. The converse of that is the need for a security system – digital rights management or DRM – to ensure that only registered viewers can see the content.
PlayBox Technology can answer all these requirements – and more – in a one-stop solution, a managed OTT platform ideal for OTT streaming for sport.
PlayBox has been a market leader in integrated, automated playout systems for broadcaster for more than 15 years. It pioneered the concept of the “channel in a box”: all the tools you need to run a complete television channel, in sophisticated software running on a standard computer. The software includes content storage and tracking, and a simple means of planning schedules which are delivered automatically.
It has taken this unrivalled experience and developed it into a complete OTT managed service platform. This puts all the content storage and processing in the cloud, so there is no need for the user to invest in hardware or maintain a secure machine room. It is built on the broadcast platform, so it offers the highest quality standards, including 4k Ultra HD transmission when you need it.
The service includes “white label” applications for the web and mobile devices, which can be simply tailored with the colours and emblems of the club or federation, making it instantly recognisable to the fan, and building loyalty. It also supports various different charging models, allowing you to gain revenue through subscriptions, pay-per-view for special events, advertising, or any combination.
Fans want to feel part of the club or sport at all times, and organisations want to keep reaching out, so social media is vital. The PlayBox OTT and VOD Platform allows you to quickly create clips from longer-form content, for distribution on social media.
The user interface is designed for non-specialists, and is as easy and intuitive as possible. It is simple to create graphics and menus for the live streaming channel, and playlists are organised by a simple drag-and-drop. The whole system runs automatically and unattended 24/7, and because it is hosted in the cloud it can be managed from any location with an internet connection.
OTT has already revolutionised sports broadcasting. Today, with advanced toolsets like PlayBox OTT Platform, it is easy for any organisation, large or small, to establish and run a rich, comprehensive sports OTT streaming service. Nothing is more powerful in strengthening the bonds between the sport and the fan.