Robert Szabo-Rowe at The Switch explains the value of supplementary on-demand content in offering much more to viewers than just the live event

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It’s no secret that sports fans are shifting away from the traditional living room TV method of consuming live content. Deloitte Global predictions estimate 2022 will be the last year traditional TV broadcasters retain the lion’s share of viewing hours among UK audiences, heralding a new era in the video content ecosystem. Streaming services, social media highlights, and on-demand replays of major events are leading this charge and dominating overall viewing times, with audiences becoming increasingly accustomed to watching content in the fastest and most flexible way possible.

This new era of live sports consumption sees short, snappy, on-demand highlights of a broad range of content take preference beyond just the main broadcast – including pre-game interviews, betting odd analysis, player and coach interviews and full post-show press conferences. This whole range of content – which always begins life as live TV but has a much longer shelf life through social and video-on-demand platforms – creates an exciting content continuum and a far richer media landscape for broadcasters and other rightsholders to capitalise on.

Giving viewers more

Live games are still a core part of any broadcast schedule. Fans will still flock to pubs, stadiums and, indeed, family living rooms to enjoy the thrill of a live game and share the joint experience with other supporters. But the evolution of streaming services and social media platforms to encompass more live content means sports rightsholders now must look beyond their linear feeds and find creative ways to capture the frenzy of new formats and get the most from their assets.

“The modern-day sports fan is just as interested in watching exclusive, behind-the-scenes content and original programming than the main play.”

Streaming platforms are beginning to capitalise on creating supplementary on-demand content which offers much more to viewers than just the live event. The modern-day sports fan is just as interested in watching exclusive, behind-the-scenes content and original programming than the main play – player cams, athlete interviews, alternative analysts, etc – giving content owners the perfect chance to establish direct fan engagement and draw in new revenue paths.

This can range from Apple TV’s MLB Big Inning Show, which brings fans all the best action from around the league with live look-ins, breaking highlights and big moments to the upcoming Amazon Prime series All or Nothing Arsenal, which takes fans behind the scenes through the team’s season.

With advances in cloud-based live production tools, there hasn’t been a better time for rightsholders to make this emerging shift a success. Few would have put cloud and live production together even five years ago, but fast forward to today and the two are now trailblazing new and unconventional live coverage experiences. Broadcasters and other content producers now commonly deploy cloud methods and technologies as a reliable means of capturing and distributing live sports, thanks to its end-to-end production capabilities spanning clipping and editing, graphics creation, comms and talkback, and playout. The upshot is greater efficiency, flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness across more live sports and related content than ever.

Speed is the name of the game

Increasingly, sports audiences today want content – whether social media highlights, betting odds updates or game replays – without delay. Cloud capabilities act as the glue between elaborate distributed production workflows, enabling talent and production personnel in remote locations to communicate and produce content in real time. Using traditional production methods, it can take hours – if not days – to take live content and produce it into a suitable format for on-demand consumption. The cloud minimizes this time to minutes, or even seconds.

Speed is the essential advantage of the cloud which is crucial for rightsholders to maintain eyeballs. By leveraging the speed and efficiency of the cloud, with its growing production and transmission capabilities and rapid clipping and editing functionalities, broadcasters can dramatically extend the lifespan of their content and ready themselves for the emerging digital future.

Robert Szabo-Rowe - The Switch

 Robert Szabo-Rowe is SVP, engineering an product management at The Switch