OTT (the delivery of video content direct to fans via the internet) has quickly become one of the most talked about sports marketing topics of the new year. Facebook’s recent appointment of Eurosport’s Chief Executive, Peter Hutton, is a clear signal of intent that the social media giant would love to provide more OTT content and claim a slice of the ever-spiralling valuation of sports broadcasting rights. But behind all the recent hype and speculation, what does the future really hold for OTT? Are we going OTT about OTT? Last week I attended #DSManchester to listen to a panel of sports industry experts discuss whether the hype around OTT is justified.
Heading up the panel and hoping to referee a healthy debate was our very own Founder, Fiona Green. The panel consisted of a mix of sports rightsholders and broadcasters, Ben Gallop from BBC Sport, Mark Foster from the Rugby Football League, Matt McKiernan from StreamAMG and Jessica d’Ardenne from DAZN. Here are some of my key take-aways:
OTT Stimulates High Levels of Fan Engagement
Sports fans love to engage with authentic and meaningful OTT content. The level of appreciation and engagement from fans through OTT channels is much higher than traditional broadcasting.
“We streamed a rugby league game with one camera, it was pissing down with rain and the camera operator had to keep wiping the lens! But you know what? People loved it!” Mark Foster, Rugby Football League
These higher levels of engagement provide rightsholders with the chance of building closer relationships with their fans, not only locally but globally too. OTT content offers fans living on the other side of the world a chance to engage with the club and feel a part of its closer fanbase.
Data is Important
The importance of data collection and usage was stressed throughout the evening from both sports rightsholders and broadcasters. Collecting data from OTT channels provides rightsholders with key insights into what content is most popular with fans, empowering them to produce content their fans want to see. Furthermore, data collection allows broadcasters to personalise fans viewing experience by serving content they are most likely to enjoy. Ben Gallop from BBC Sport hammered home the fact that fans don’t mind providing some data to trustworthy sources, in the knowledge that this will tailor and improve their viewing experience. A Liverpool FC fan probably doesn’t want to watch the highlights of Man Utd’s under 21’s, so broadcasters can use data to provide the right content to the right fan.
All panellists were in agreement that broadcasters such as the BBC currently have a more stable platform and wider audience reach than rightsholders. Many rightsholders cannot rely on OTT channels alone just yet. ‘YET’ being the key word here. We know fans have an appetite for OTT and in the near future many rightsholders may have built up a digital following large enough to bypass the major broadcasters and stream content directly to fans themselves!
To conclude, are we going OTT about OTT? I don’t think we are, and more importantly, neither do the experts! OTT is a part of our lives now, like TV and radio. If rightsholder combine quality OTT content with a smart use of data, they can create meaningful and personalised engagement with their fanbase.
“We’ve been through one disruption with the invention of satellite TV and now we’re going through the second one with OTT” – Ben Gallop, BBC Sport
If you would like to know more about how Winners can help you utilise data to help you send the right message, to the right person at the right time, please do get in touch.