Scoring big at the Champions League Final
Thursday, June 27, 2019
Scoring big at the Champions League Final
Jonathan Gibson, Director of Global Sports Sales, Ooyala
More than ever before fan engagement is the key to winning in today’s competitive global world of sport, this has been evident during the broadcast of this year’s Champions League Final. Whether you support Liverpool or Arsenal, club loyalty lasts a lifetime and is handed down between generations. With fans of a team dotted around the world, sports has also become a truly global phenomenon. Over the Top (OTT) and direct-to-consumer videos hold potential for new revenue streams and fan loyalty, opening new markets for all kinds of leagues and clubs. This could include everything from post-match interviews, half-time highlights, and exclusive content to help aficionados stay engaged.
The days of traditional broadcast deals as the main source of revenue for rights holders is long gone. However, launching, managing, maintaining and monetising today’s successful sports video strategy can be a daunting task, especially when fans want to be able to watch content on any device, any platform and in their local language.
To remain a player in sports video, it’s time for the industry to streamline operations. Hundreds of hours of video content, from multiple sources, in different formats and with varying degrees of metadata need to be delivered quickly and efficiently to multiple consumer platforms.
These are not easy challenges.
Reaching your fans on their terms
Paying for expensive rights won’t yield much profit unless you get the relevant content to the right audiences, at the right time, on the right device. Fans are no longer all in the same ground or tuned into the match live on television. They could be catching up on the weekend’s highlights after work, showing off to their friends in the pub, or streaming live on a long train journey. The combinations of where, when, and on what, make for a huge number of outcomes you need to be able to deliver.
This is a concept that BT Sport has grasped well. It might not be the first time that the broadcast channel has offered the Champions League Final free to watch on their YouTube channel, however, being an all-English final, they could have easily not offered it free this year. It was a strategic move that they knew would definitely be very well received across the UK, not only because everyone likes “free stuff” but also because this is a win-win for all involved - BT, UEFA, and Google. UEFA and BT’s partnership has been finalised and it’s a great way to expand their audience, they will want as many people in the UK to tune into their flagship event. Whereas for Google, this is a means of showing how versatile and stable YouTube is for one of the biggest live sports events in the world. As long as they have internet connection, the audience will be able to sit back and enjoy the match.
Behind the scenes, content producers are having to streamline their operations to do this. They can’t rely on manually ingested meta-data from a disparate group of systems. The entire workflow operation that gets sports content from the camera to the screen has had to adapt and flex to keep up. Everything needs to come together, and producers need a single source of truth to keep track of so many moving parts.
Move from fan requirement to opportunity
Teams and clubs need to keep providing their fans with access to match content, but aside from video content being a requirement it is also a huge opportunity. There is the chance to encourage fans to engage with other offerings and services or pay for premium content.
BT managed to leverage the Champions League Final to gain brand exposure and display its level of production expertise, ultimately with the intention of gaining customers. It paves the way for how broadcasters can use free-to-air platforms to drive subscriber numbers, using their highest value properties. It’s also a win for consumers in a market that is more and more about paying for premium content. The free-to-air approach allows BT to compete against Sky’s Premiere League season.
To help meet these needs, and given the global nature of sports, content owners are increasingly looking to AI to solve the key challenges created. For example, a broadcaster could have partnerships with teams around the world. They need to be able to quickly repurpose clips into different formats, add logos and graphics, all while keeping an eye on the game.
Fans want to experience matches in new ways too. For example, overlaying content which provides player stats during the game, streaming the match in HD HDR element, or virtual reality to get fans even closer to the action. Whatever the future of sports content holds, it will be increasingly important the video teams in the industry have access to platforms, which can meet these innovations and allow them to quickly take advantage of them.
Taking workflow control
We’re already seeing sports organisations around the world take advantage of this new technology to boost the fan experience.
The challenge may be complex, but the solution should be simple. The sports industry needs a solution that can handle the variety of needs today, but also grow into the future as fan needs and demands develop. In a technology-heavy industry, a seamless integration into existing technology and systems is vital.
The sports industry finds itself on a new, global, playing field. It’s time for their video content to step up too.