Home Opinions How OTT and the cloud are changing the future of sports broadcasting

How OTT and the cloud are changing the future of sports broadcasting

Matt Bowman, Director, ISG Connect
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Sports broadcasting has been rapidly evolving. The balance of power has been gradually shifting away from the traditional satellite providers that once monopolised the industry as demand for new online channels has emerged. As we head into the new decade, we should expect to see this trend continue, with Over The Top (OTT), Video-on-Demand (VoD), and Subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) platforms supported by cloud services and modern IT-infrastructure continue to grow.


Increasing use of OTT (Over The Top)

During European football’s close season of summer 2019, both UEFA and Manchester City launched their own OTT streaming platforms, aptly named ‘UEFA.TV’ and ‘Manchester City for TV’. Both platforms were introduced with the aim of increasing and enhancing their respective fans’ access to live and on-demand video content in a move made to attract more viewers from around the world. The move makes sense as sporting audiences continue to change, with younger viewers demanding greater access to online content available from anywhere and everywhere in the world at any time.

In UEFA’s case, we should expect to see its service have an impact on the way the Euro 2020 tournament is broadcast, with it being the first of its kind to take place in different countries across the continent. The UEFA.TV platform will give football fans from around the world instant access to highlights and clips from the tournament, meaning that although the tournament will be taking place across Europe, it will still maintain a local-feel and high-level of access for viewers across the continent.

Around the same time, it was also announced that Premier League football matches would be streamed live and online from Amazon via their Prime Video service. The OTT service will be the first of its kind to stream live Premier League matches, and hints at a sign of things to come as big online players, such as Amazon, look to increasingly flex their muscles in the sports space. As a result, during the next decade we should expect to see more sporting occasions broadcast via OTT, VoD and SVoD platforms such as Amazon Prime Video and UEFA.TV to help enhance access for fans from around the world.


Broadcasters will embrace cloud

Cloud based services have really matured over the last 10 years and have been embraced by the media and broadcasting industry. Tools such as Microsoft’s Azure Media Services are making it easier for organisations to produce, package and share video content. As we move in to 2020, we should expect to see sports broadcasters continue to use cloud-services and rely on the developing data center environment. Data Centers will continue to be very important as they allow customers to benefit from a ‘pay-per-use’ model of consumption. This provides flexibility for the big-ticket events such as football and cricket, and also the more modestly distributed sports such as judo, handball at netball.

The cloud will make in-stadium editing suites a thing of the past, helping to reduce costs for broadcasters and rights holders and enabling edits to be made live and far quicker. With no loss in service or quality, with the right service partners, rights holders can edit “near live” to produce highlights and other supporting media, whilst the game is in progress from their own home!

Craft editors will be able to log in to the cloud from anywhere, spin up a remote edit suite, and work directly from the content store with no loss of quality in an infinitely burstable environment. This will streamline the costs and streaming of content, just like Netflix, allowing for high quality distribution globally; serviced locally.

 

New Advertising Models

Fully clouded solutions will also enable the introduction of up-to-date ‘addressable advertisements’. Addressable ads are TV ads that leverage viewer data to target to specific households, rather than just to general areas based on demographic data such as age and gender. They aim to ensure that advertisements and messages are targeted to the relevant viewer. In the context of sports broadcasting, this will mean that targeted ad campaigns such as betting in-game ad TV advertisements will only be sent to households of avid gamblers.

This will also be made possible by the advent of cloud services, which provide broadcasters and rights holders with the necessary scalability and power to access files as quickly as they need them. This will allow them to launch advertising campaigns in just 48 hours and campaigns can be tailored to be as topical as possible.


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