The rise of sports OTT has introduced a new wave of competition and innovation into the market.
And as a result, traditional providers have been prompted to adapt their pricing, packaging and overall value propositions to stay successful.
Meanwhile, several emerging specialist sports OTT aggregators are creating value-for-money global offerings, aggregating tier two and three rights not acquired by pay-TV providers. Of course, this proliferation of sports OTT services and providers potentially reduces demand for pay-TV.
With this in mind, Is sports OTT on the verge of transforming the pay-TV industry for good?
As part of the latest Pay-TV Innovation Forum, we spoke to a number of executives to get their insights.
Amir Peled, Head of OTT Services at Swisscom thinks that sports, couple with gaming, will be the major growth stories over the next five years.
“We envisage a world where you could blend someone’s Instagram story from a football stadium with a live stream in a way that combines the professional match footage with specific points of view from the live audience”, he says.
“Taking the in-stadium experience to the viewer at home – that's where we see the future of sports”, he adds.
Meanwhile, Alex Borthwick, Head of Subscription Sales and Marketing at RugbyPass, considers the value of on-demand content, not just the unique thrill of live sports.
He explains, “consumers may miss the live match but still want to watch it, especially with European rugby matches that kick off at midnight (or later) Australia time. Consumers want the option to watch at a time that is convenient for them.”
His colleague Richard North, Chief Strategy Officer at RugbyPass, is keen to emphasise the importance of adapting to the changing landscape.
“Many young consumers engage with their preferred sports through YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. It is important that we drive user engagement here through – for example – highlights and clips”, he says.
The key to engagement, ultimately, is recognising the new ways that fans engage with content. As Richard explains, “we need to recognise that individuals creating cool content mashups in their bedroom can play a key role in driving engagement among younger fans.
“We must move away from a world where individual rights holders can shut these people down, learning instead how to support and harness their work to the benefit of the sport”, he concludes.
But how will OTT sports content continue to evolve? Russell Stopford, Chief Digital Officer, Paris Saint Germain FC, thinks it will grow beyond the 90-minute slot on a Saturday afternoon.
“Sports broadcasting is increasingly about how we can package up the whole pre-match, in-match, halftime and post-match experiences – as well as how we engage fans during the four, five, or even six days a week when football is not being played”, he says.
It is clear that there will be growth in OTT for year to come and the industry recognises the need to adapt and innovate. When all the pieces are put together correctly, operators and content owners will be able to reach more fans than ever, and fans will find a deeper level of engagement with their favorite teams than they ever could before.
Find out more about the Pay-TV Innovation Forum and download its special report on The Global Market for Premium Sports OTT Services.