OTT is worth it for rights holders – but only if they adopt it properly

In all areas of entertainment, digital has revolutionised the way content is distributed. Be it the film or TV industry in the age of Netflix or the music industry in the era of Spotify, on-demand services have almost taken over – or are at least set to. In sport, it’s no different.

That doesn’t mean that the purveyors of traditional linear distribution channels have been dethroned – you only have to look at the success of the BBC’s iPlayer to understand that the traditional players can do digital as well as anyone if they pivot hard enough and have a proper strategy.

But it’s undeniable that OTT digital services are for everyone, or at least open to all creators – from YouTubers to entire broadcasters using streaming as their sole means of distribution. And that’s proven incredibly popular in every industry. Indeed, consumption of video on digital platforms and social media channels is an important part of most people’s daily life.

Sport has lagged behind to a certain degree. The fact that most sporting events are best served live means that on-demand viewing of entire games isn’t appealing to most fans. But that arguably makes the on-demand content that can be created even more important.

From Amazon-created documentaries to podcasts, the amount of content fans can create around their consumption of sport is rising. Clubs, publishers and rights holders are starting to understand that they too can be media owners. They have talented athletes or journalists at their disposal, and they too can create video that fans will love.

Spider TV Camera before a UEFA Champions League match

“Having your own OTT platform with fully integrated data and video, as Sportradar’s OTT provides, gives businesses an even greater and more refined ability to create and share their content, enhance user experience, engage with fans, increase audiences and therefore generate more revenue opportunities”, Sportradar Managing Director OTT, Rainer Geier said.

Sportradar have worked with 25 new partners in the last 18 months, including Borussia Dortmund and the Davis Cup, showing not just the types of organisations who are pivoting to OTT but also the scale of the trend.

But it’s not really enough to simply build it in the hope that they will come. The phrase ‘great content’ might seem like an oxymoron – ‘content’ doesn’t sound lovingly crafted but rather an afterthought when the realisation dawns that the shiny new website or video player you’ve created doesn’t have anything to display – but it’s also very true. With so much video populating a now-saturated market, making sure that your content stands out is imperative. It’s not just crucial to the success of the platform being created, but without it why bother having an OTT service at all.

“In this technological day and age, it’s not enough to just implement an OTT platform. You need a solution that incorporates all aspects required to create a complete and bespoke OTT offering. This includes state-of-the-art technology and innovation to produce a holistic platform approach based on a flexible product and business model. Utilising a variety of engaging content options that are underpinned by rich and quality data is important,” Geier said.

Pep Guardiola TV Camera Premier League

“With over 15 years of global AV and sports data experience, we have been able to build a truly dynamic and trusted end-to-end OTT solution that can incorporate all Sportradar’s products, allowing clients to manage multiple channels, control video strategy, maximise digital platforms, leverage local and global marketing, provide enriching customer data and increase rights value.”

Data is another area experiencing a boom and the future of sports fandom will likely include a lot of it. Fans – certainly of a younger generation – are used to statistics: from Football Manager and FIFA ratings that many grew up with right through to in-game stats. They are part of the experience of watching sport as fans want to understand what’s happening on their screens.

Traditional distribution won’t be abandoned any time soon – if at all – but on-demand content in sport will only continue to rise as clubs, leagues, rights holders and publishers all battle for the same ground. Doing that successfully will be the difference between success and failure for these organisations and just like in other areas of entertainment, only those who adapt the best will succeed.

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 813 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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