Sports streaming platforms need to stay current and relevant by prioritizing a direct-to-consumer approach. In the end, DTC is the only distribution method providing the deep data that can make or break your company’s bottom line.
At this year’s NAB Streaming Summit, I moderated a panel of OTT industry experts who discussed this topic at length. Watch the full conversation (below), featuring panelists Fabio Gallo from LaLiga Tech, Riccardo Quaglia from the Italian basketball league (LNP) and Andy Wasef from the National Basketball Association.
We all agreed DTC services should follow a three-phase approach for growth:
- Phase 1: Start ramping up live content to build viewership and increase consumption.
- Phase 2: After enticing viewers with live content, capture the data from your audience to understand their consumption habits and develop a 360-degree view of your users.
- Phase 3: Use the information to continue refining your service and delighting your fans. Mature properties understand every aspect of their data — the consumption churn and marketing behaviors — at the granular level.
A DTC sports streaming service can complement linear broadcast deals. For example, this comes into play your linear partner doesn’t show all of your live events, or when you can re-air a game after a one-day holdback. It’s also the perfect solution in markets lacking linear deals.
Ultimately, streaming services promote a better understanding of fan behavior and needs, and this is particularly true when content owners go DTC.
Streaming services promote a better understanding of fan behavior and needs, and this is particularly true when content owners go DTC.Rick Allen, ViewLift CEO
Phase 1: Building Viewership and Consumption
Live-streaming sports over the top can attract and retain customers and expand fan bases globally.
What’s most valuable to content companies? Real-time access to the correct data and the ability to maintain reliability while scaling.
Live content consumption continues to grow worldwide, with 63% of millennials watching live-streamed content regularly. And according to Tech Jury, the live-streaming industry is expected to reach $184.27 billion in the next five years. Parks Associates reports that 78% of OTT sports service subscribers watch live-streamed content, compared to a mere 25% who don’t subscribe to any sports streamers.
Many companies use live content to collect data over time, too. With streaming services offering more live games and matches, companies can gather more precise learnings. By examining monthly fan viewership and engagement data, streaming services can sharpen their approaches to personalizing content and offering their broadcast audiences the best experience.
Phase 2: Capturing Audience Data
In terms of their streaming habits, audience data shines a light on virtually everything. But obtaining that data is merely the first step in the process. During the second phase, streaming services must take a monumental step to structure and interpret the data.
The Future of Sports Broadcasting: Enhancing Digital Fan Engagement reports that 25% of sports customers want a unique OTT viewing experience. Sports streaming services can use data insights to enhance personalization and the fan experience. When streaming services prioritize personalization, fans can easily find their favorite teams, players and content.
Sports streamers typically target customer experiences by:
- Producing content and marketing recommendations for an audience’s interests based on viewing data.
- Using data, plus algorithms and frameworks, to create advanced customer experience personalization.
- Leveraging automation to accelerate customer experiences through personalized user interfaces.
LaLiga’s customer analytics tool, for example, collects all the data inside a data lake. This centralized repository securely stores and processes trillions of files of structured, semistructured and unstructured data. It allows LaLiga to profile their data and receive a full view of each fan.
The Italian basketball league (LNP) takes a similar approach. Every month, the LNP analyzes data about their fans to provide the best content possible.
Data should ultimately help create great content presented in personalized experiences for fans, enriching the basic excitement of live games.
Phase 3: Data and Consumption
Real-time data on viewer consumption remains a crucial element in understanding fan behavior. For example, what’s happening on screen when viewers turn off a game? Fan behavior data inform decisions about audience priorities and what keeps them watching.
Viewer consumption data answers questions like:
- What supporting content would fans want to see during live games?
- What content extends viewership?
- What extra content do fans want to see (i.e. interviews or feature stories focused on players, coaches or owners during or between games)?
Audiences also want information on player performance. Major B2B business players, like SportRadar and Genius, survive on performance data’s entertainment value and utility.
AWS’s Next Gen Stats gives sports fans relevant data to understand gameplay. The platform also predicts what will happen next based on AI and other data sets.
Sports leagues with a DTC model have become data-driven companies.Rick Allen, ViewLift CEO
This information remains a lubricant for fantasy and free-to-play games. Gamblers rely on it, too, when evaluating and placing their bets.
Content companies need streaming partners that:
- Compile the correct data.
- Make it available in real-time.
- Maintain reliability while scaling.
- Help optimize the mix of monetization models.
The Power of Data-Driven Companies
Sports leagues with a DTC model have become data-driven companies.
While linear deals provide significant revenue sources for leagues and media companies, this structure inserts media partners between leagues and fans. Adding a DTC service to the distribution mix with personalized content enhances subscriber value with actionable data.
Although hundreds of streaming subscriptions exist, content companies that tap into their niche consumers (who value more engaging content) have a stronger financial foundation for their services. Why? Because super-fans will pay more and engage more often.
Sports data — particularly viewer behavior — offers an enormous asset for streaming services. But diligence on every step along the collection and analysis process is critical for these companies. And collecting the right data begins with selecting the right technology partner.
Start with a deep dive into what viewer information your partner’s platform collects. Is it accessible for you in real-time? What kind of assistance will the platform provide to your analysts? The right tech partner can turn your streaming service into a high-performance winner.