Finding Value in OTT: A Q&A with Fantastec Managing Partner Steve Madincea

After Fantastec announced on Thursday that it had completed the acquisition of VOD platform We Are Colony, Digital Sport caught up with Steve Madincea, Managing Partner of Fantastec.

The topic of OTT video and live-streaming is growing day by day, and in sport it is becoming crucial – just as it has done in the entertainment industry in the last few years, as well as in music in a similar way. Not only is it helping fans and consumers to watch sport whenever and almost wherever they please, but it’s also helping smaller sports whose mass appeal isn’t as big as the best-supported leagues and sports to get their content in front of more eyeballs than ever before.

Below, Madincea told us about what to expect from Fantastec’s new acquisition, and where he sees the future of this space going.

You recently announced the purchase of We Are Colony, one of the most advanced OTT VOD platforms. What was Fantastec’s rationale behind this acquisition?

For Fantastec it was quite straightforward, our fan focused global vision is technology led. We Are Colony is very unusual in the OTT VOD space as the team has built an end-to-end video technology solution in-house. This tech has won multiple industry awards and resonated with film fans around the world. When we found this world-class tech on our doorstep in London, and I met CEO and Founder Sarah Tierney and her team, I knew this acquisition made sense to grow our team and deliver a platform which could be highly valued in the sports world

 

Was there a Colony feature you like best for sport?

It truly wasn’t about one specific feature, but it was more about the multiple features their bespoke platform had that our tech team felt was 18-24 months ahead of anything else in the marketplace. We like the user friendliness of the front-end, the CMS and CRM capabilities of the back-end, the ease of transactions in over 130 markets worldwide, the highly innovative isomorphic framework which delivers a world-class browser experience, the sophisticated cross-browser compatible encryption methodology used to protect video against piracy, the flexibility to turn on or off one country or territory with a simple click of a button, the reporting dashboards that kept all parties aware of all global transactions on a daily basis. In this era where fans want to watch anything on any device and from anywhere in the world we felt this could be a very positive solution going forward.

Given the challenges many have faced in the OTT market to date were you concerned about getting into this field?

Many have said the OTT market for sports is currently the Wild West, meaning there are numerous pioneers staking out their territory. But if tech history is anything to go by this space will not be won by the first to market or even the biggest in the market place. It will be won by the companies delivering the best consumer experience. Colony had about five years of building and working with this tool in the more mature OTT movie industry and then gained valued experience with movie aficionados around the globe. This alone provides Fantastec tremendous confidence the Colony acquisition can help us deliver a serious Direct-To-Consumer sports service for any team, league or athlete.

Why would someone select the Fantastec streaming product over anything else in the marketplace?

It’s important to note we are not yet in the marketplace as we just made this acquisition. We are making some necessary tech adjustments – such as the ability to live stream – and exploring the right launch strategy with content partners. Having this technology as part of our offering essentially means we can shake hands with any league, team or athlete and have them on their own dedicated and proven state-of-the-art streaming platform very quickly. It’s exciting because when a property establishes a relationship with us to have their own OTT platform they set all the rules. Additionally, you are not forced to play second fiddle to other sports or worse to non-sports events. You are number one at your desired time slot and in the countries and territories you want to be in globally. In addition to all of this, the Colony tech is now the backbone of other products we are launching at Fantastec very soon…so watch this space!

Finally, how do you see the future of OTT and Sports?

The future of sport and OTT is providing worldwide consumers what they want and when they want it.
This is the real opportunity in the ever-growing global sports content market. It’s easy to assume everyone has a terrestrial, cable or satellite service where they can subscribe to sport. But the reality is that isn’t the case. In fact, in many countries, there is more access via smart TVs and devices than using the traditional methods of TV and a third-party provider (e.g. cable or satellite). The future OTT opportunity is a very real one as it offers fans an uncomplicated way to engage with the sports they love and at a price they can afford. Having a dedicated OTT platform makes logical and business sense for leagues, teams and athletes that value their international fan growth as one opportunity to better connect with this rapidly expanding sector.

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