November 17th marked our third annual Sports Focus event. Sports Focus is our change to bring together clients in the sports sector to share industry expertise and look to future trends in digital sports media.
Duncan Burbidge, CEO of StreamAMG, chaired the event at MediaCityUK’s On the 7th Club. This year, our topic was the Match Day Experience. This is especially important at a time when rights holders are getting serious about digital media.
This is because there’s simply not enough space within the broadcast schedule to meet fans’ needs. Fans are now looking to digital to watch content before, during and after the match.
Our work in 2015 gives evidence to this trend. This year, we’ve contracted directly with a number of niche sports like the European Netball Championships, the Italian Basketball League and Italian Women’s Volleyball to offer direct to consumer deals on a revenue share. Our work on the Football League project shows that fans are willing to pay a small subscription fee for more content.
These are all projects which cater to passionate fans who have been unable to watch their team or sport on traditional broadcast channels.
With this in mind, we think there are five key elements for digital sports media in 2016:
Above all, people want to be able to relax and enjoy the action. Providing high definition and eliminating buffering and interruptions is a given.
What’s just as important, however, is the quality of experience. This includes:
• Creating responsive video platforms that look amazing on every device
• Adding smart recommendation filters
• Making it easy to register
• Improving the speed it takes to find a video
• Ensuring the pages load fast by optimising elements
• Integrating a CDN to improve the global delivery of video.
By optimising these features, you’ll make all the difference for the fan experience.
There are so many different ways that sports content can be monetized online. We believe in pricing to be scientific and have built a model which includes ten different considerations to set that price.
Considerations include the sport itself, the exclusivity of the content, the competitiveness of the league, the number of games, the passion of the fans, the presence of the archive and the inclusion or otherwise of data.
Know the Fan, a global sports media consumption report, shows how 50% of British sports fans consuming content on mobile are under 35 years old, and just 27% are 45 or older. And nearly half of sport fans prefer to follow their team digitally using laptops or smartphones.
These figures show why digital media rights are now more valuable than ever. But how do you engage with these audiences and persuade them to spend money on video?
The fastest way to conversion is social media sharing. By clipping live events with call to actions into Twitter and other socialplatforms, we are able to demonstrate the value of the service. Simply put, by combining social media followings with live content, we can increase subscriber levels.
This approach is based on two considerations:
- Almost no-one will pay for content without first having followed their team on social media
- There is great value in agreeing clear lines of responsibility with our clients. In this case we simply say: grow your following and we’ll convert them to paying subscribers on social media.
4. Customer support
There are a number of sports video sites out there now. It’s all too easy to subscribe for a site one month, and then unsubscribe the next. If customers feel like they’re not being listened to, then they will easily cut their subscription and move on.
For our Football League project, we have a team in Manchester specifically to help customers get online and watch the action. It’s important for our fans to be able to get in touch with honest, straightforward and most of all helpful support.
We see relentless innovation and optimisation as a necessity. More fans are watching sports online. As the numbers increase, there’s the need for innovation and development of platforms.
Media Platform is built on cloud-based architecture that can easily scale. We’ve integrated this with Akamai, Level 3 and Amazon CloudFront CDNs to provide the best possible viewing experience.
When we partnered with the Football League to deliver 89 of their player sites, we were warned that the project would swamp us. However, we were confident in our architecture and teams that we could launch the project seamlessly. On the day, we saw a peak system load of 2%.
The fans dictate the future of digital sports media
Every sports company is currently trying to answer one question: how can I satisfy fans that are becoming more and more demanding and intolerant to mistakes? We think that by getting these five elements right, you’ll have the basis of a strong sports video site which delivers continued value to the fans.