Monday, January 24, 2022

Sky Sports missed Afcon opportunity with Now to show why flexibility is key in OTT space – SportsPro

Flexibility and redundancy is the key to OTT success

When dedicated sports streaming services first began to make their presence known a few years ago, one unnamed company suggested that fans really only care about events and everything else is superfluous.

The motivation for the statement was obvious. They argued that since OTT providers are not limited by program schedules and traditional distribution methods such as satellite, they can provide a much greater quantity and variety of live content.

Another implication was that studio presentations and additional programming were just filler to increase the perceived added value of a subscription, and that by doing without those elements, flexible streaming services could lower costs and pass them on to consumers.

This combination of sheer coverage and agility would make the Netflix sports fantasy a reality. However, in later years, the opposite became clear. Fans really care about extra programming, original content, and broadcasters – both traditional and DTC – have responded to this demand.

The pandemic has highlighted the excessive live coverage of many sports broadcasters, and the suspension of competitions has led to refunds to customers and a search for alternative content.

At the same time, by sheer coincidence, Netflix has prepared The Last Dance for quarantine binges. If ESPN 30 out of 30 set the stage for the sports documentary renaissance, it was Michael Jordan and the 1998 Chicago Bulls that made it popular. Broadcasters of all shapes and sizes now produce behind-the-scenes series, period films and non-live content are an increasingly important part of any programming portfolio.

DAZN and Amazon are also investing in indirect sports programs, dispelling any notion that streaming services will blow the market with an avalanche of live content and nothing else. Reinforcing this wisdom is to confirm that it’s the premium features that drive subscriptions, not the sheer amount of mid-tier rights. Studio analysis and additional programming is the most effective way for broadcasters to maximize the value of these assets, as is the growing trend towards multicasting.

In the US, ESPN hopes that multiple channels will appeal to different audiences, leveraging the most expensive assets and reaching demographics that aren’t interested in a traditional presentation. “Manningcast” offers an alternative look at the NFL during Monday Night Football, and the recent “Megabroadcast” for the College Football National Championship playoff game consists of 13 different streams video, audio and digital channels.

Clearly, viewers really appreciate quality commentary and studio analysis, as do copyright holders, because it encourages interaction. A recent example of this is the frustration of some viewers that Sky Sports’ current UK coverage of the Africa Cup of Nations has been limited to the world feed, meaning no studio production, with many games being covered by a lone commentator.

You might argue that Sky might be better off covering the world feed with its own production and spin-offs and offering viewers the option to purchase an Afcon season pass on their Now streaming platform. This season ticket will be cheaper than Now’s standard monthly rate, which is an all-or-nothing deal, and could be a model for other competitions like F1, the Premier League, or even the NRL. While Sky has dedicated channels for certain sports, tying the streaming service to linear channels rather than specific events seems like an anachronism.

The real value of OTT lies in the flexibility and creativity digital provides to viewers, and those who can combine production values ​​with compelling offerings reap more profits.

NFL on Nickelodeon

There is perhaps no better example of the benefits of multicast than Nickelodeon’s coverage of the NFL. Last year, CBS aired a clash between the New Orleans Saints and the Chicago Bears with kid-friendly commentary, on-screen graphics and content, as well as visual filters and goo explosions when a touchdown was scored.

The decision to offer the first kid-friendly broadcast in NFL history was vindicated by Nickelodeon’s highest ratings in four years and two Sports Emmy awards.

So it’s no surprise that CBS is doing it all again for the San Francisco 49ers at the Dallas Cowboys this weekend. Viewers will see new graphics, more Nickelodeon characters, and even be able to vote for their Most Valuable Player (MVP). It’s fair to assume that there will be more mucus too.

Major League Apple

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