OTT Streaming Service: A Need for Sports Leagues

ott streaming

over-the-top streaming services reversed the supply and demand curves between broadcast media and sports leagues. Leagues of all sizes can develop their own OTT platform to offer more revenue and engagement opportunities than TV broadcasts.

Cable television increased the number of channels by using technology that is better suited to large-scale distribution. there were still limited channels and barriers to entry. Viewers, especially for live events such as sports, were also constrained by broadcasters’ schedules. Either you watched the game, or you didn’t. You had to make a choice if you wanted to see two games that were simultaneously falling.

As the demand for sports increased faster than what cable companies could offer, it was a win-win situation for leagues. In the 2010s, TV networks stepped up their bidding wars whenever a professional league or college conference was due to renew its rights. Major League Baseball had increased its agreements with Fox and TBS by 34%, 46%, and respectively $1.2 billion, NCAA March Madness was up 43% to $1.1 million, and the SEC by 61% to $330 million by the end of that decade. Even smaller conferences of mid-majors got a piece. The Sun Belt Conference, which helped satisfy ESPN’s demand for sports content, raised their game 250% for an $8M deal. Meanwhile, the American Athletic Conference increased its rights fees by 363% to $83M.

However, smaller colleges can still tap into the huge college sports industry. These broadcast deals are centered on the two revenue-generating sports of basketball and football. Pirlotv, an OTT platform that offers basketball and football, is one example.

Broadcasters responded to the growing demand for more of the same, offering fans the same big sports from different leagues. Rather than broadening their programming offerings. This was logical and justifiable. With a limited number of available platforms, broadcasters and rights owners needed to focus their strategies to maximize value.

Minor leagues and niche leagues had the same options as before: they could look for coverage on local channels, or buy airtime on national or regional sports networks.

streaming platforms that are over-the-top, causing market corrections that result in major incumbents pivoting quickly and minor and niche sports exploring new worlds.

There are many benefits to having your own streaming service for sporting leagues

  1. Platforms that are too expensive don’t equal the playing field. They create a new level.
  2. Content expansion via over-the-top platforms

Platforms that are too expensive don’t equal the playing field. They create a new level.

Unlike traditional TV channels, there are no restrictions on how many streaming apps an OTT platform can offer. There are no carriage fees like cable TV, no technical constraints like spectrum, and no business reason for an OTT platform to refuse a streaming solution from a league or team. Hosting each additional app on the OTT platform is a marginal expense.

There are many OTT opportunities. Every sports team or league can make their own OTT streaming app to reach their fans via platforms like Roku, SlingTV, or Pikashow on their smart TVs, smartphones, tablets, and computers. You can cut out the middlemen by going directly to your customers through an app for your league or team that is available in the Apple Store or Google Play.

Access to OTT platforms gives minor leagues and niche sports teams control. A mix of life and on-demand programming can be offered: studio shows and games can be broadcast live and made available for viewing afterward, while classic games and highlights can accessed immediately following their release.

The league and the fans work together to decide what they can watch and when. This is a departure from the broadcast route where the property has only two hours per week. Therefore, it must deliver its best content within that time slot. It is also a collaboration between the property owner and viewers. As with any digital product, the owner can access viewer data in real-time. Instead of receiving macro-level Nielsen data a week after an event, OTT apps allow the property to analyze fan preferences and patterns from the total audience to the individual viewer levels.

These data influence the content schedule and the financial model. A broadcaster cannot buy the media rights of a league. The only way the league can appear on television is to purchase a block. The league must figure out how to make money from advertising during that period.

Are they looking to insert commercials during play breaks, such as in baseball or football? Do they purchase a shorter time block in the hope of generating revenue through on-screen ads, as in soccer? These are risky decisions for the league with very low prospects of making more than a marginal profit. Sometimes, the necessary analysis will require data and insights that properties of this level don’t have in-house. They either need to hire an external consultant, increase their costs, or gamble with incomplete information.

The OTT streaming app can be used for sports leagues to make money in any way they wish (well, whatever the market will bear). You can make the app available only to subscribers. It can provide a mixture of premium and free content, pay-per-view for live events, or completely free for consumers.

Leagues might use their streaming app to lead their sales and marketing efforts. This could include ticket and merchandise sales, activations for esports, and increasingly, tie-ins in sports betting. For the US’s burgeoning sports betting industry, data-driven studio shows, analyses, or in-game overlays work well.

This is an attractive option for sponsors. They would welcome data and access from fans. It also gives them the chance to perceived as “good guys”.

Over-the-top streaming services meet the demand for more sports programming. They also allow sports leagues to fulfill any other needs that fans may have and will pay for.

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Content expansion via over-the-top platforms

Media rights prices reached new heights in 2010 as they hit record levels on an annual basis. People began to ask the same question in these situations: Are the prices increasing or decreasing? OTT streaming services emerged to be the externality that would reverse or stop the rise of the bubble.

The biggest sports leagues, which had become rich but were dependent on the media rights markets, worried about both. Streaming could replace their main revenue stream. They knew they couldn’t ignore it. They had to make over-the-top platforms at most an additional product offering while looking for ways to reduce the possibility of revenue loss when they renew their broadcast rights. Major leagues were able to create an integrated media and content suite by balancing what needed to be broadcast live with what was available on-demand.

OTT streaming is a complement to other methods of “meeting the fan wherever they are” for minor leagues or niche sports. However, it has only been additive for these types of games.

On-demand libraries can have content that can be edited to be shared across all social media channels. Through user-generated content, social media channels can feed back into OTT apps. Fans may be able to capture a better view of a highlight than any camera a minor league team has at the stadium. A fan-hosted show on Instagram Live, which is vetted for appropriateness and enriched the content library, could help to increase engagement with online fan communities. A curated collection of social media posts from fans could be a great way to reach key demographic eyes on the app, especially when there is not much else going on.

Last Thoughts

Over-the-top streaming platforms make it possible for fans to access smaller sports properties in a way that is unimaginable. ViewLift makes these platforms available to leagues that are looking for the next step. Get in touch with us today to get access to the OTTs and smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and smart TVs that fans want.

By John Sonron

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