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Sports, E-Sports & Niche-Content Providers: How Live Streaming Tech Is Changing the Game

The ability to deliver premium quality streaming to every device is no longer within the exclusive domain of major content providers.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the top seven most watched broadcasts in US history are all Super Bowl Games. NBC’s 2015 broadcast reached an average viewership of 114.4 million, and live sports continues to be an overwhelming draw for content providers across the traditional and new media divide.

Yet, when considering the almost 4 million viewers reported by CBS for its live stream of the Super Bowl 50, or the more than 50 million unique visitors that tuned in to e-sports platform, Twitch last month, there is a clearly pressing conversation to be had about maximizing value from live entertainment. From live concerts, to premium sports, business events and social networks—it all starts with live streaming.

Consumers want their entertainment live, they want it to be social and they want to be part of the action as it happens. The difference between the live experience that traditional broadcasts offer and today’s viewer demands, is that consumers are increasingly seeking multiple devices, screens and gateways that can capture, and enhance the ‘live-social’ experience. They want greater flexibility and greater choice in the content they watch, where and how they watch it. Fortunately for all providers, it is a trend that shows no sign of slowing down—according to a recent Adobe report, TVEverywhere was up 36% year-over-year by the end of 2015.

Both the accelerating demand and the technologies enabling these shifts are creating unprecedented opportunities for content providers, including broadcasters, to increase their audience reach and ROI. New technologies that simplify costs and reduce complexity of delivery through end-to-end, unified workflows across broadcast and OTT, and are supported by vendor-integration of CDNs and encoders, are enabling niche-content providers to easily and cost-effectively scale-up for the first-time. The ability to deliver premium quality streaming to every device is no longer within the exclusive domain of major content providers; niche-content providers are now able to increase monetization by extending reach to fans across the world and delivering content to audiences they wouldn’t otherwise be able to serve.

E-gaming, horse racing, boxing, and teleshopping providers, as well as content aggregators, are among the providers drumming up petabytes through daily and weekly live streams to millions of people. For instance in 2016, worldwide consumer online gaming traffic is expected to reach 64 petabytes per month, while an increasing number of traditional sports rights holders are also taking their content OTT for the first time. This new landscape is ensuring that new and niche-providers have greater access to the market, increased opportunity to gain market share, and even the potential to leap over large operators in terms of innovation, due to the flexibility of streamlined technology.

Failing to optimize content and rights across every platform is counter-intuitive at a time when advances in technology have enabled providers, from broadcasters to OTT platforms, to deliver everything consumers are asking for, at a fraction of the cost. The option to deliver the full experience of live streaming, real-time highlights, social syndication including live publication to Facebook, and live-to-VOD across every channel and device, through a single platform is a simple and cost-effective solution for providers of every size to give consumers more of the content they want.

Of course, it’s not just about putting out your content through a single stream. Consumers increasingly expect an enhanced viewing experience: they want high quality streams, simultaneous access to multiple channels and even camera viewpoints; they want easy discovery and the choice of playbacks and catch-up functionality; and they want the whole experience to be as convenient as sitting back on the couch and watching the content roll by. The industry innovators that will have the most success will be those tapping into the right technologies to ensure easily accessible and personalized content, that is available wherever their viewers want.  

Dan Finch

Music channels, live events providers, enterprise sectors, social and media outlets join sports as some of the most important genres for live streaming.  The landscape has changed dramatically, allowing every provider to get in the game. In this new media ecosystem, innovation and multi-channel delivery, not company size, will determine a provider’s success.

Dan Finch is Commercial Director at Simplestream. He started his broadcast career at Carlton TV and ITV, before joining BSkyB and AETN UK where he set up a multi-platform advertising and sponsorship sales team, securing high level ad-funded programming projects and managed the distribution of HISTORY in Benelux and Scandinavia. Dan’s excellent knowledge of broadcasting, marketing, ad sales and channel distribution has enabled Simplestream and TVPlayer to accelerate their success in the broadcast and media sectors.