S07E08: Game of Streams (A better experience)
Our Media Solution Specialist, Magnus Svensson, is sharing his reflections on the online streaming industry in this post. This is part of a monthly series so make sure to follow us here if you do not want to miss an episode.
The world of sports entertainment has undergone a transformative shift in recent years, driven by the streaming technology. While this evolution has made it easier than ever for fans to access live sports content, it has also given rise to a new challenge: the fragmented sports streaming market. As the number of streaming platforms grows, fans find themselves facing a complex array of choices, each with its own set of offerings, pricing structures, and exclusive content.
Sports rights agreements have led to content being spread across various platforms, often requiring fans to subscribe to multiple services to access a comprehensive range of sports events. This fragmentation, while offering choice, has also led to subscription fatigue and the potential for increased costs as fans attempt to gain access to the full spectrum of their favorite sports.
For sports organizations, the challenge is to balance between revenue and reach
If you are a Yankees fan who likes to watch the regular-season games, you need to subscribe in some way to access the YES Network, ESPN, Fox, FS1, TBS, Apple TV+, Peacock, and Amazon Prime.
For sports organizations, the challenge is to balance between revenue and reach. Exclusive content deals drive revenue but must be balanced against the risk of alienating potential subscribers who may opt out due to high costs or the inconvenience of having to juggle multiple subscriptions.
The pirates offer an alternative
This evolution has also brought another major challenge: increasing piracy within video streaming and sports in particular. As the world witnesses the rise of illegal streaming platforms and unauthorized distribution of sports events, stakeholders in the sports industry are facing an uphill battle to protect their content and revenue streams.
The allure of free or cheap access to live sports events has made piracy an attractive option for individuals seeking to bypass legitimate channels. Or sometimes just find the game to watch.
One of the key challenges in combating piracy lies in the global nature of the internet. Pirated streams mostly originate from the distribution chain, origin, or CDN, and can come from anywhere in the world and can be accessed by users across borders.
This makes enforcement on the technical level a complex and often resource-intensive challenge. And it doesn’t matter if one provider manages to secure their delivery if another provider, possibly in another part of the world, leaks the same game. Moreover, pirates continually evolve their methods to evade detection, making it difficult for streaming providers to keep up with their tactics.
Apart from technical prevention, education and awareness campaigns targeting consumers are another vital component of the fight against sports streaming piracy. It’s after all the consumer’s responsibility not to use illegal services in the same way as they don’t steal from the local grocery store or walk away from the restaurant without paying.
A better experience
Streaming services do unfortunately not equal a better experience than traditional broadcasted sports. In most cases it is the same format and in the best case with slightly better quality but usually the opposite.
Streaming services need to step up and improve the experience for sports. This involves a combination of technological advancements, user experience enhancements, and catering to the specific needs of sports fans.
Ensure the platform supports high-definition video, high frame rate, and high-quality audio. Incorporate interactive elements that allow viewers to engage with the content. This could include real-time statistics, player profiles, and the ability to share reactions or comments with other viewers.
Use AI and machine learning to analyze user preferences and provide personalized content recommendations. This could include suggesting games based on favorite teams or players, or providing highlights tailored to individual interests. Provide real-time statistics during the game and in-depth analytics surrounding the games. Make it possible to select commentary and analysis from experts based on your preferences
By focusing on the needs and preferences of sports fans, streaming platforms can significantly enhance the sports-watching experience and attract a larger audience.
The sum of everything
The consequences of expensive streaming subscriptions, fragmented distribution, piracy, and poor user experience are far-reaching and will affect the sports ecosystem. From leagues and teams to broadcasters and sponsors, the financial implications will be substantial.
By providing a better experience than the illegal alternative at an affordable price, the sports industry can safeguard its evolution and revenues
The revenue generated from broadcasting rights and sponsorships is essential for the growth and sustainability of sports organizations. The problems described undermine this revenue stream, jeopardizing the ability to invest in player development, infrastructure, and fan engagement initiatives.
To make the transition from traditional sports distribution to streaming, collaboration between sports organizations, governments, technology providers, and fans will be crucial. By providing a better experience than the illegal alternative at an affordable price, the sports industry can safeguard its evolution and revenues. Ultimately, this collective effort will ensure that fans continue to enjoy the thrill of live sports while contributing to the growth of the sports they like.
To watch out for the coming months…
Apart from IBC (International Broadcasting Convention) in Amsterdam, where I expect that the trends will follow the path of the streaming market with consolidation and efficiency as the guiding stars, I expect a few major announcements from the global services in the coming month. I have a feeling that Disney will make a major move very soon. Watch out for product announcements and continued consolidation.
Magnus Svensson is a Media Solution Specialist and partner at Eyevinn Technology. Eyevinn Technology is the leading independent consulting company specializing in video technology and media distribution.