Live streaming will become the norm – but what important pitfalls have we missed?

We all know about the arrival of live streaming sporting events by now.

One of the big revelations of 2016 was live video streaming on social media platforms, but if you want to get a large-scale audience to watch a live broadcast, a sporting event is your best bet.

Viewing habits for other forms of entertainment have seen on-demand content rocket, but sport is still the bastion of appointment-to-view content. As such, it has become something of an obsession for social media platforms and streaming services alike. Twitter and Facebook have both dabbled in buying rights to various sporting events whilst Amazon Prime and Apple TV have looked to add more and more live sport to their platforms. As recently as the end of January, Sky Sports live streamed part of their transfer deadline day coverage on Twitter.

But up until now, the rights to the biggest sporting events have been bought up by the major players. Naturally enough, products like the biggest Premier League or Champions League football games, European rugby or the biggest NFL ties have remained with traditional broadcasters. No surprises there, but it has led to an opportunity for minority sports to jump on the live streaming bandwagon by offering Twitter and Facebook an opening into the world of sport while getting their own content out there to a larger audience.

As such, women’s football, table tennis and the homeless world cup of football have all been streamed on the platforms.

But two news stories this week – one about Spanish language channel Univision live streaming 46 Mexican football league games on Facebook, and another about French free-to-air TV network France Televisions streaming Six Nations games on Twitter – seem to point to more progress in this area.

Up until now, this sort of live streaming (that is, opposed to streaming on apps provided by the broadcasters who have the rights to the content) has seen platforms essentially fumbling for scraps.

This signals something of a shift, though. It’s true that gaining the rights to stream the Liga MX on Facebook in America isn’t the most groundbreaking move imaginable. Nor is streaming an already free-to-air sporting event in your own country. After all, both of these events are geofenced.

But it does show an intention to bring major sporting competitions to a social media audience. An intention that will surely only become greater over the next few years.

It also provides some problems for a British audience.

The BBC own some of the rights to the Six Nations and when an event like that is on free-to-air TV, it makes sense to stream it on Twitter. Why not, really?

But for the BBC, the licence fee is, presumably, the biggest stumbling block. How do you get around that when streaming live on Twitter?

While we transition from older technologies into a brave new world of smart technology, from traditional broadcasting to live streaming it might be worth asking those sorts of questions: what exactly are we missing?

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 130 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and a regular contributor to Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan91

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