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neuco @ Sportel in Monaco

11 Nov 12:00 by John Clifton

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Sportel, held in the glitz and glamour of Monaco, is the meeting place for all things sports marketing and content.  As a huge sports fan, I was intrigued to see how the increasing growth of OTT seen in the rest of the content and media world was affecting the sports industry.

Another hot topic in the tech world that is making its presence known is IoT – on board/on person sensors and cameras, and other sorts of wearable tech are becoming more and more prevalent, so I was also keen to learn how the content owners will look to harness this to further engage their fans and viewers. 

And then there’s Big Data.  Many in the sports world – like many other industries – remain unclear on both exactly what it is, and what to do with it.  However, with content distribution being ever more fragmented, understanding what to do with the mass of data that’s accumulated is key when looking to further drive targeted advertising revenues, PPV offerings and subscriptions.

The good news for the industry, is that no matter the changes in technology, the one thing that sport has over almost any other content – save for key news broadcasting for example – is that ‘live’ remains key.  But even there, we’re seeing more changes occur.  People said a few years back that live sport would never be seen on Twitter.  Yet with the introduction of their Live facility and their Snappy TV application (which allows for almost real time clipping ready for re-publish) it’s coming.  Thursday Night Football in the States is halfway through a 10-week deal of streaming every game live.

Outside of live, the content owners are realising that short sharp clips of highlights are what people yearn for – we’re all busy, so if we didn’t have time to catch ‘the game’ live, it’s unlikely we have time to watch it in its entirety at a later date.  Re-packaged short clips, especially if enhanced with exclusive interviews and other content appear a good way to offer add-on services that viewers are prepared to pay for, or can be paid for by advertising revenues.

On the topic of short clips, many brands looking to enhance their international footprint are looking at these with respect to personal stories and insight about their athletes.  The more fans engage with their hero’s, the more their prepared to pay for premium content.

Athlete data and analytics has been on the rise for a while now, but the force of IoT is coming – it won’t be long before we see sensors in everything measuring all aspects of athletes and their equipment.  The neat thing about this is the power it brings to the commentators whose job it will be to translate this to ever exciting experiences for the viewer.

Big Data is yet to be harnessed to its full potential in the industry, but the content owners are beginning to realise that understanding what to do with the mountains of data now available data is key.  Creating clever marketing campaigns to the right audiences, negotiating high level advertising deals, and suggesting relevant subscription and PPV packages all depends on using the data in the right way.

Some people I spoke to said the sports industry is where the music industry was ten years ago.  In some ways the live experience nature of the industry means sport has its own microclimate in the broadcast world.  The music industry had to radically adapt and in many ways used technology to drive listeners to get back into live events.  It remains to be seen how the sports world will go, certainly interesting times ahead.

Oh, and how about Augmented Reality?  The cynics say it’ll go the way of 3D, but they said that about live sport on Twitter 3 years ago.  The visual quality needs to be drastically improved, but arguably more important is the audio – giving viewers a truly immersive ‘almost there’ experience is critical and it remains to be seen how much commentary will play a part or whether hearing and sensing that you’re fully part of the crowd as though you were really there is better.

Like everything, the evolving changes bring challenges but also excitement and opportunity and I’m sure we’ll see talent pools from the broader connected world enter sports.  I’m looking forward to Miami!