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Stadium 2 screen: Live sports broadcasting undergoing a new seismic shift

By Joe Tan

The roar of the crowd may still echo within stadiums after the excitement of recent live events, but this does not stop sports broadcasting undergoing a new seismic shift. Fuelled by a surge in connected TV (CTV) viewership, live sports are steadily migrating from traditional cable packages to Internet-based streaming platforms. 

This transformation, according to a report by LG Ad Solutions titled Stadium to Screen: Streaming Live Sports in 2024, paints a compelling picture of global audiences hungry for personalisation, interactivity, and a more engaging live sports experience. 

The report revealed a massive and diverse sports viewership on CTV. A staggering 87% of CTV users tune in for live sports, following an average of five different sports — a testament to the broad appeal of athletic competition. This is further underscored by the growing comfort with streaming, with 74% actively streaming live sports and a significant portion, 44%, opting for streaming platforms to experience Super Bowl 2024. 

But gone are the days of simply watching a game unfold on a mobile or TV screen. Today’s sports fans crave a more immersive experience, demanding features that cater to their individual preferences. This trend is evident in the report’s findings that CTV users navigate a multi-app environment, with 38% utilising three or more streaming services. This fragmentation creates a fiercely competitive landscape for broadcasters and streaming platforms, forcing them to innovate and personalise their offerings. 

However, fragmentation is not the only challenge. The report highlighted the prevalence of viewers multitasking while watching live sports. Specifically, 85% of CTV users engage in activities like messaging, gaming, and even shopping during games. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity for brands and advertisers. 

While multi-tasking potentially diminishes focus on traditional ads, a glimmer of hope emerges with another key finding highlighting that 64% of CTV users claim to pay attention to commercials during sports broadcasts. This reinforces the continued importance of sports-related advertising, but with a crucial caveat — relevance is paramount. 

The report further revealed that three in four CTV users yearn for more relevant ads during live broadcasts. This resonates with Allan Nicholson, Senior Director Advertising Solutions & Strategy at Harmonic, who emphasised the need for hyper-personalisation.

Speaking to APB+, he said, “Streaming live sports has evolved beyond the basic experience of watching a football or soccer match on online platforms. Viewers crave hyper-personalisation, expanded viewing choices, and tailored advertisements when watching live sports events.

“To meet this demand, video service providers are adopting various approaches to enhance the live sports streaming experience. These include features like multi-view, real-time graphics and data integration, collaborative viewing options, themed sports channels, and the incorporation of gaming elements.” 

These various approaches extend beyond fan engagement. Nicholson  highlighted that “personalising live sports streaming content not only improves fan engagement and satisfaction, it also opens up new revenue streams for video service providers”.

Innovative monetisation models like split-screen ad formats offer a win-win scenario for viewers and advertisers. Viewers experience minimal disruption while advertisers reach engaged audiences, and platforms can optimise ad revenue streams for their valuable sports content. 

This shift towards personalisation hinges on robust technology infrastructure. For instance, software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions offer the scalability, reliability, and real-time data processing capabilities required to deliver high-quality live streams. “By embracing SaaS solutions, video service providers can elevate personalisation to unprecedented levels and explore new revenue streams,” said Nicholson. This cloud-based approach unlocks the power of machine learning, essential for analysing vast amounts of data and delivering targeted advertising and enhanced experiences. 

However, technology challenges remain. Xavier Leclercq, Vice-President of Business Development at Broadpeak, pointed out, “We’ve entered a new era of video streaming, where the delivery of live sports events is generating close to 100 terabits per second.”

Ensuring consistent quality becomes paramount as viewership increases and platforms experience unpredictable spikes in traffic. Robust distribution systems and collaboration between streaming platforms and Internet service providers (ISPs) are crucial for maintaining high-quality viewing experiences. 

Leclercq further emphasised the complexities of managing content rights and real-time content adaptation. Platforms require solutions that support targeted advertising, monetisation, and real-time content replacement to comply with constantly evolving broadcasting regulations.

Interactive ad formats, where advertisers only pay for user engagement, are another emerging trend, attracting broadcasters seeking to expand their advertising pool and increase revenue. 

The new dynamics of live sports streaming is paving the way for a future where personalisation, interactivity, and efficient content delivery reign supreme. For broadcasters, platforms, and advertisers alike, the message is clear — adapt or be left behind. The race is on to win over the new generation of demanding sports fans by crafting a viewing experience that transcends the limitations of the traditional broadcast and delivers an unmatched level of engagement, both on and off the screen.

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