(as published in Advanced Television on 25 October 2021)
Live sports came back with a vengeance this summer. Sports rights holders discovered that Covid-19 had only accelerated the fast changes in monetization, technology, and distribution models, and they found their tech stacks were under pressure to answer the new demands in flexibility, openness and functional depth.
The eternal challenges of live sports programming are well known: the complexity of sports rights and the inherent unpredictability. A high degree of automation is needed in scheduling to effortlessly adjust to changing timelines, and only a state-of-the-art rights verification tool can capture all the rights, restrictions and obligations. The whims of live sports can be anticipated with alternative schedules. Last-minute changes require the flexibility to immediately push changes to Playout and EPGs.
Now that live sports are back on, sports rights holders find themselves in a crowded and fragmented market, where viewing expectations are high and the war for eyeballs is fiercer than ever.
All the signs are that they need to:
- Connect with the viewer better: with dedicated pop-up or FAST channels, highlights on social networks, and automated reversioning and localization processes to flexibly deliver the right format on various platforms.
- Enhance the viewer experience: with near real-time updates of EPGs, smart content promotion, mixing linear and on-demand, combining live events with related content.
- Centralize their data into one source of truth: with web apps to remotely update and enrich the central metadata depository, for instance from the venue itself, and the openness to integrate with online sports databases.
- Reduce costs and increase ROI: with lean, software-driven workflows, touchless operations, actionable content intelligence, seamless integration across existing systems, and scalability that manages and supports growth.
For OTT streamers, broadcasters, and sports clubs and federations going Direct to Consumer, the future is in operational efficiency, agility, openness and functional depth.