The budgets spent on sports broadcasting/streaming rights have skyrocketed in recent years, only exceeded by the revenues generated from those rights. According to GlobalWebindex, 3.4 billion people saw at least part of the 2018 World Cup. This is half the world population: a monetization treasure trove. Unsurprisingly, the social media giants have jumped on the bandwagon.
Sports or live broadcasting is very different from non-live broadcasting, however. The differences in workflows and required functionality span across all departments.
Live events have their very specific challenges, what with the inherent unpredictability (cancellations, delays, uncertain durations, …) and last-minute changes. You have to deal with concurrent events and overlaps, diverse sources and feeds, graphics, different commentary languages, … and not to forget the ever increasing importance of huge amounts of real-time metadata.
Several multi-platform media companies have used our standard WHATS’ON modules for live broadcasts in a linear environment for many years. In view of the proliferation of sports OTT services and the disruption in traditional sports broadcasting MEDIAGENIX have developed specific solutions for sports services within the BMS environment. The aim is always to optimise revenue and achieve operational excellence.
The way in which WHATS’ON allows to achieve this in practice is as varied as the range of sports broadcasters it serves is wide.
A constant is that WHATS’ON helps operators maximize the value out of their hard fought and steeply priced sports rights by reducing manual work to a minimum and providing a single point of access to all relevant information required to make better editorial, scheduling and selling decisions.
A group of sports channels in the UK manages 22 channels with WHATS’ON. Apart from using WHATS’ON for linear and catch-up scheduling, compliance, promotions, and content, media and rights management, they use WHATS’ON for sports planning support and sports metadata management.
Global network of sports channels beIN Sports (Qatar and France) use WHATS’ON—apart from planning—to manage sports metadata, workflows to record live feeds, different live sources within one transmission, as well as for source booking integration.
Eurosport, one of the biggest (live) sports networks in Europe, is implementing WHATS’ON with an added event layer designed to help sports networks achieve greater operational efficiencies. Programme breaks can be triggered from the network’s central overview to quickly adjust the various scenarios of the individual channels to last minute changes and other quirks of live sports events. This will be further facilitated through closer integration with playout automation.
At DAZN, the first global, pure sport live and on demand streaming service, WHATS’ON manages rights relative to sports metadata (such as kickoff time, start next match day), and is used for scheduling based on rights restrictions and obligations. Restrictions may be related to the teams, the teams’ home location, match day and kickoff time. Obligations can be to broadcast a game, a magazine, a sponsorship or a specific secondary event.. Things can get pretty complicated without WHATS’ON.
«The solution drastically reduces manual input and gives broadcasters the instant information they need to make strategic editorial and scheduling decisions.»
Cooperation with such international sports broadcasters has inspired MEDIAGENIX to develop a sports module that boosts operational efficiency and helps to get the best value out of expensive sports rights. The solution drastically reduces manual input and gives broadcasters the instant information they need to make strategic editorial and scheduling decisions.
How it works
With the sports module you can manage sport events in a structure. Football matches, for instance can be structured in seasons, and seasons in leagues.
You can link content to these leagues, seasons and events. A football game, for instance, can have the live game, press releases, highlights, and the teams linked to it. This means that in WHATS’ON you can search for content based on the event.
You can distribute and schedule content over the various channels or services at your disposal, create as many distribution ‘channels’ as you require, and make the content available to the viewer with maximum flexibility.
WHATS’ON manages the schedules of individual channels, allowing you to define feed, commentary and resource requirements. OTT or linear networks can create a centralized production overview for all their live content, and define for each event various schedule scenarios and the corresponding production needs (e.g. commentators for the live event, analysts and presenters for the studio show(s), specified per territory and language). The individual local channels then choose a scenario (e.g. with or without a studio show before, during or after the event), select commentators, analysts and presenters or request others. These scenarios are centrally defined, managed and streamlined in WHATS’ON.
Centrally managed metadata
With the sports module, you manage event metadata in one central place. You can import metadata from online databases that keep their information up to date, such as Opta. All you need to do to is connect the online database to WHATS’ON via the Sports API.
The changes and updates in these databases will ripple through to the transmissions.
In WHATS’ON you can indicate, for instance, that you have the rights to broadcast all world cup matches of the Belgian team. Although you don’t know beforehand whether Belgium will even make it to the knock-out phase, you can already create all the events, the products, the contracts and transmissions, with placeholders for the as yet unknown. The advantage is that when Belgium does go through, the system will fill in the next events according as Belgium keeps winning. No need to alter the rights descriptions.
Each time it becomes clear which teams are going through, the online database pushes this information to WHATS’ON and it ripples down to the products, the transmissions and the contracts.
The titles of the products and the secondary events are updated based on team information, the location etc. Placeholders are used to set formulae for the calculation of the titles, example: [Season name]:[matchday]: [Team1] v [team2]. Similar placeholders are available for secondary event graphics.
Restrictions and obligations
Scheduling will adjust to the restrictions and obligations entered in WHATS’ON. Restrictions (e.g. only broadcast the finals) make your schedule valid or invalid. An obligation can be, say, to broadcast sponsorship or to broadcast a specific match live. Obligations typically have a kind of a deadline. 10 days before the game, for instance, all kinds of flags pop up if you haven’t met the obligation yet.
Integration with source booking systems and MAMs
For a live transmission WHATS’ON will send a request for a feed to the source booking system, including a request for an audio feed for every commentary language and requests for graphics.
After getting the details of the feeds, WHATS’ON will forward these to the MAM system so the media file can be created for playout of repeats or for creation of highlights.
Prepared for any contingency
As last-minute changes are inherent in sports (rainouts, injury breaks, …) you can easily adapt your short-term schedules —even switch to an alternative schedule—and steer your play-out system accordingly. These last-minute changes are also pushed to the EPGs. For networks, triggers are sent from the central overview that adjust the various scenarios of the individual channels in a matter of seconds.
Inserting ads, promos and sponsorships
The seamless integration with the ATS or dynamic ad insertion system optimises commercial revenues. Promos and sponsorships are automatically scheduled.
Engaging the viewer everywhere
Live content can be combined with sport magazines and documentaries to further improve the viewer experience and keep subscribers on board for the long term. Content can be promoted on social networks and platforms with (deleted) extracts, exclusives interviews, highlights, behind-the-scenes clips and other additional content.
The bottom line of the WHATS’ON Sports module is that you only need to select the games you want to broadcast. WHATS’ON takes care of all the rest. Note that you can just as easily use the sport modules for other live events, such as elections, or a music festival.