The superfan consumes sport multi-dimensionally. Picture a combination of a TV, a laptop, a mobile device and possibly even a tablet.
They are likely to be connecting with other super fans on an app; be it a fantasy league app or a social media platform to engage with fellow super fans, or even a betting app.
Live sport gives fans the opportunity to create a dialogue. As much as the players get ‘in the zone’ before the game, so do the fans. It’s a unique combination of competitiveness, fandom and athletic ability.
It is now so important for broadcasters to deliver the type of content that audiences desire and demand. It’s not only about what a broadcaster can provide in terms of sports watching; it’s also about what fans can participate in during the game.
Passively watching a game is not something that fans want, instead, the superfan wants interaction and connection with content.
Fans want to seamlessly connect with the platform and join the event, think video chats and direct engagement tools like virtual hangouts and private chat rooms with other super fans.
Live streaming has unexplored avenues which promise to elevate the viewing experience exponentially.
An attractive opportunity for sports streamers. According to the American Gaming Association, people in the U.S. spent over $1.5B on iGaming, including online sports betting, in the first half of 2021.
It’s not surprising that sports streaming services are starting to take an interest; however there are factors that need to be addressed.
Low latency is not the only technical challenge to enable sports betting. Different countries have different laws around gambling. For example, in the EU, betting on game results is allowed in Germany, but go across the border into Poland and gambling is illegal.
Pop up polls, and quizzes aren't necessarily new. In the ‘90s and ‘00s, technology companies like Liberate and OpenTV worked with pay-TV operators like Comcast and Sky UK to gamify broadcast television.
However, these gamification tools took the viewers attention away from the content they were watching. The latter can be addressed and one streaming platform has solved this problem by introducing a redirectable ad format.
Another challenge with gamification is synchronisation between live stream and video data. The two need to be in sync otherwise it will become frustrating for the audience. If a game pops up after the action is complete, it’s more irritating than it is engaging for the viewer.
Broadcast events typically give one view of the action to the audience, while streaming allows there to be multiple synchronised video streams showcasing different parts of the action.
For example, The F1 app allows subscribers to stream the main race feed and add car-cam views of their favourite drivers. It also adds in race conditions and specific real-time data on favourite drivers and their cars.
However there are some challenges that need to be addressed. These include, ‘spoilers’. Consumers may like having multiple views of the action but will not use it if their friends spoil the results by tweeting and posting about the action before they see it.
The second challenge is to keep all the different stream views of the action synchronised.
Finally, scaling targeted ads to millions of live viewers is a huge and complex task, now imagine multiplying that by a million or so viewers!
Innovations with augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and wearable technology have the potential to take fans to the sidelines of games, share experiences with family and friends across the globe, and even buy team/player merch. These virtual experiences require more processing power than is currently available in smartphones and VR/AR glasses. However, cloud and CDN providers are building out advanced edge networks to handle the load.
As 5G networks are built out, mobile devices will connect to these edge compute resources with high bandwidth and low-latency connections.
Signs are clear that sports leagues recognise the need to be in the digital space to fully connect with fans.
With the participation of sports rights holders and aggregators, the drive to make the live streaming experience more personalised and engaging is sure to gain momentum.