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Opinion: Simple solution

How to win big in the world of sports content, according to Jonathan Gibson, director of global sports sales at Ooyala.


Fan engagement is the key to winning in today’s competitive global world of sport. Club loyalty lasts a lifetime and is handed down between generations. Sport has also become a truly global phenomenon, with fans of a team based around the world. 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 and half-time highlights to exclusive content.

The days of traditional broadcast deals as the main source of revenue for rights holders are 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.

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 TV. They could be catching up on the weekend’s highlights after work, or streaming live on a train journey. The combinations of where, when, and on what, make for a huge number of outcomes you need to be able to deliver.

“The days of traditional broadcast deals as the main source of revenue for rights holders are long gone”

Behind the scenes, content producers are having to streamline their operations to do this. They can’t rely on manually ingested metadata 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.

Huge 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.

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, overlay content which provides player stats during the game 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.

We’re already seeing sports organisations around the world take advantage of this new technology to boost the fan experience. Ligue de Football Professionnel, for example, powers its new direct-to-consumer OTT service using a configurable content supply chain optimisation platform, which allows the French football body to manage metadata and video assets. A flexible and functional workflow means they can get their content on every device and platform, in every language to reach their growing legion of fans worldwide.

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.