Sports over-the-top technology spend in North America is expected to reach US$6.8 billion by 2021, according to research by sports media technology company Deltatre.
The company’s ‘Where the Money is Going: The Future of Sports Entertainment’ report claims sports operators worldwide are now spending 15% of their total budgets on OTT – both on tech platforms and supporting services to enhance the fan experience.
Deltatre’s research also indicated that, on average, sport streaming platforms can expect to see a 24% increase in active subscribers following investment into enhanced features and functionality that bring consumers ‘closer to the action’, like automatic removal of ads in on-demand content and ‘picture-in-picture’ coverage during multi-sport events.
The research was based on the responses of 1,000 sports fans split evenly between the US and UK, as well as on interviews with sports federations and operators. The fan research indicated that for roughly two-thirds of sports enthusiasts, US$39 (£30) per-month was the cut-off point for sports content spend, with only the remaining third willing to spend more.
Two fifths of self-described sports fans who regularly watch sports content said they pay nothing for access in any given month, with almost half of this number citing account sharing with friends and family as their means of consumption.
In terms of how viewers prefer to watch sports, 79% said they want the freedom to be able to cancel at any time – the second-most important consideration for consuming sports online after an uninterrupted viewing experience.
Some 39% of sports fans said they watch four hours or more of sports programming outside the home, with mobile phones ranked second after TV in the list of primary devices used to consume sports content.
Asked what they felt would have the most significant impact on how they consume content by 2025, more than a third of sports fans said 5G, suggesting that consumers see a faster, more reliable data connection to be a fundamental building block to the future of sports consumption.
“The sports OTT KPIs have changed. It’s no longer just about streaming the match. Encouraging viewers to come back day after day is the gold standard, even when there’s not a live match taking place,” said Giampiero Rinaudo, CEO, Deltatre.
“That means maximising engagement on the shoulders of the game itself. Tailoring video and editorial content to different types of fans and reconfiguring the UI and UX based on time of day, user insights, or the latest developments in the sports world that week is how brands can create a better ecosystem around a sport.”
Deltatre said it expects IP-delivered services from leagues, federations and operators to be the “future gateway for sports consumption,” dubbing this ‘OTT 2.0’ – a trend it predicts will emerge by 2021.
Deltatre is owned by Bruin Sports Capital and is provides OTT solutions, as well digital platform production, virtual broadcast studio, broadcast graphics, and content and data creation services.
The company acquired OTT UX specialist Massive for roughly US$127 million in November, after which it claims to have become the largest independent OTT solution provider in the world.
Deltatre’s clients include FIFA, the Premier League, NFL, UEFA, the BBC, BT Sport, Discovery, and ATP. Last year it said it powered more than 1.2 billion minutes of video across sports OTT services.