From the first live streaming event of a baseball game radio broadcast in 1995 to the omnipresence of today’s video streaming of live sports, the way the world watches has in fact changed the game.
Before streaming video hit the internet, fans had two choices for live viewing: either buy pricey tickets to attend events – with traffic and long lines – or watch limited sportscasts on traditional TV. Now with OTT sports, fans have more affordable and convenient access to local, international and niche sports alike. They can even watch and interact with several live events simultaneously on multiple screens from virtually anywhere. That leap in viewer experience was bound to shake things up.
Traditionally, broadcasting live sports posed a host of hurdles like signals having to traverse multiple, sprawling and inconsistent networks before reaching viewer devices, volatile live feeds and ad scheduling and desynchronized multi-stream URLs, to name a few. Now, with the availability of an innovative live streaming service, broadcasters and content publishers can streamline their OTT workflows, solving the problems of the past and providing wide coverage of live events with TV-like quality on any device, anywhere.
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With live streaming solutions, content owners can keep up with the viewing trends of younger fans raised with a second-screen OTT experience, which indicate they’ve learned to expect and exert control over what, how and where they watch. And they are watching … everywhere, some adding a third and fourth screen to further enhance the immersive and interactive live sports experience. This several-simultaneous-screen demand is especially prominent with young motorsport fans, who want to view synchronized live streams of multiple cameras, angles, real-time racer statistics and more.
The accessibility and affordability of streaming live events means reaching a larger audience – a much larger audience – across multiple industries, locations and platforms and on multiple devices simultaneously. But doing so can cause unpredictable and abrupt spikes in concurrent viewing and overwhelm the network.
Scaling live streams is a challenge faced by every content publisher. Additional mishaps associated with live streaming span unfortunate weather events to sudden technical hiccups before, during and after events, any of which can lead to poor quality, outages, leaked footage and frustrated viewers.
With live video and viewers poised to stream, engage and share sports worldwide, it’s important to get it right the first time. And when it is, content providers and users can enjoy elevated engagement, including live streaming and VOD events with contests, fantasy experiences, special promotions, continuous interaction and more!
When social media entered the arena, major social networking sites learned to partner with leagues to offer live sports to users, giving fans more viewing options and a way to interact with games and each other in real-time, in a big way. This allowed users to stream events from their own point-of-view, engage fans and teams, attract new users, amplify advertising opportunities, create and drive supportive content, even dictate future content. In essence, such a level of interaction has transformed viewers into contributors, commentators, marketers and influencers. And the sports industry is responding.
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According to Daniel Danker, Facebook product director, “40 percent of total video viewing on Facebook is driven by people sharing content and not from the original video post.” As a result, some major stadiums and venues are now equipped with enough Wi-Fi to accommodate thousands of fans streaming their own live videos, multiplying each live event into countless, customized mini-events.
Forbes reported that live sports accounted for 52 percent of Twitter’s 600 hours of live streaming video in its 2016 fourth quarter, and viewers watch Facebook Live content three times longer than non-live videos. This social media attraction, retention and magnification effect, coupled with its audience-monitoring capabilities, has improved monetization for content publishers through personalized ads.
The evolution of streaming live sports, and all the benefits it entails, shows no signs of slowing down. Content owners and broadcasters who can’t keep up with dynamic user demands for fast, interactive and highly personalized viewing experiences – anytime, anywhere – risk losing the game altogether.
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