Live sports broadcasting is big business. Changing viewing habits and consumer demand for high quality sports content has helped to fuel the expansion of live sports into the OTT sphere. According to a recent report by Parks Associates, annual sports OTT subscription revenue in the United States is expected to almost double from $13.1 billion in 2022 to approximately $22.6 billion in 2027.
From traditional television broadcasts, Pay-Per-View to OTT services, fans can now choose from a whole host of different ways to watch live sports. In this changing landscape, how can broadcasters and sports organisations ensure they are able to maximise available opportunities and reach wider audiences?
Delivering live sports content can be unpredictable. Rights are sometimes agreed or changed at the last possible moment, and broadcasting schedules often need to be changed following activity or events on or off pitch. Therefore, the infrastructure used for delivering live sports content must be highly flexible and agile. Traditional on-prem broadcasting solutions do not allow for this type of flexible content delivery.
Cloud solutions on the other hand, offer unparalleled flexibility for sports broadcasters. With cloud playout, channels can be quickly spun up/down as needs require, and this can be done without the heavy capex expenditure that traditional on-prem models would require. This makes it quick and cost effective for broadcasters and sports organisations to launch a pop-up channel covering a sporting event or series.
The amount of data generated during live sports broadcasts is massive, and traditional broadcasting methods can often struggle to keep up with the demand, particularly with today’s discerning viewer who wants to watch the match or the race in ultra-high definition. With cloud playout solutions, broadcasters can easily scale their infrastructure up or down depending on the demand, ensuring that viewers have a smooth and uninterrupted viewing experience.
Sports broadcasting is a competitive industry, and acquiring the rights to show a major sporting event carries a big cost. Content has to be of the highest quality and has to be delivered to the audience in the most cost-effective way. Traditional broadcasting methods require significant investment in infrastructure, equipment, and personnel, all of which are costly to maintain.
Many broadcasters and rights holders are turning to cloud solutions in order to benefit from the cost savings it offers over the traditional model. Cloud solutions can generally be operated on a pay-as-you-go basis, allowing broadcasters to only pay for the resources they need at any given time. This can help to reduce costs significantly and make live sports broadcasting more accessible to new players.
Traditional broadcasting models are limited by geography, as they rely on local and regional affiliates to distribute their content. In contrast, OTT streaming allows sports organisations to bypass these limitations and reach fans all over the world. This not only increases the potential audience size but also allows sports organisations to build a more engaged fan base by providing access to content that would otherwise be unavailable. Cloud playout solutions enable rights holders and broadcasters to easily distribute content across regions, channels and platforms, increasing reach.
We’re already seeing many major clubs and sports organisations launching their own direct to consumer streaming services in order to broaden their reach and build stronger relationships with fans. In the United States, MLB, NFL and NBA, which represent most of the major sports leagues, each have their own subscription streaming service which shows content that complements their rights commitment and agreements. These services give organisations greater control over what content is made available to fans. This includes the ability to create and distribute original programming, as well as the ability to provide additional content such as behind-the-scenes footage and player interviews.
Whether live sports content is delivered to viewers via an OTT service, or via digital, cable or satellite will depend on a variety of factors such as the nature of sports content, region, audience demographic, and also associated rights. Whatever the distribution route, a cloud playout solution provides a cost-effective way to deliver the content to the audience.
The inherent flexibility that comes with cloud playout enables broadcasters to quickly launch new channels, experiment with new formats, and test different distribution models without the need for additional infrastructure. For broadcasters looking to grow their reach by launching channels and expanding into new regions, cloud playout will help to realise those objectives.