What does sports ‘streamification’ hold for the future of sports broadcasting?

COVID19 has caused the sports industry to unpeel onto the next layer of ‘digitalisation’. Viewership records, online engagement and the appetite for sports content have hit an all-time peak. These events have leveraged technological innovation in sport, including sports content becoming ever-more widely accessible through a variety of mediums. This weeks blog will discover the impact that sports streaming will make across the future sports broadcasting landscape.

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Ecommerce giants Amazon Prime have made a lot of noise in the sports industry this year. They’ve secured a 35% year on year increase in subscribers, coming from their Premier League coverage. Since 2018, there’s been a 1.5m increase in homes that now obtain an Amazon Prime subscription. The channel has gained rights to exclusive sports content as well, including the Spurs docuseries ‘All or Nothing’ which has been instrumental in establishing their identity in the football industry.  

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Streaming leaders Twitch are another medium competing across the streaming landscape. The Amazon-owned channel accumulates on average 175m daily users alongside 1.5m at any moment. Twitch has undergone a diversification strategy, seeing it launch a sub-channel entitled ‘Twitch Sports’, an initiative to captivate the sports content backdrop. The medium recently partnered with European football giants Real Madrid, Arsenal, Juventus and PSG to publish exclusive content through Twitch Sports. Over half of Twitch’s users fall in the 18-34 age bracket; this is a phenomenal opportunity for sports leagues to leverage younger Gen Z audiences to their brands to take their fan engagement strategy to new heights. 

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Sports streaming stats have hit the roof. 80% of sports viewers consume sports-related content through online devices, 56% of sports fans would prefer paying more for Over-The-Top (OTT) sports content channels compared to traditional TV channels and OTT TV and video revenue is set to reach $64bn by 2021. It’s a no brainer that streaming is increasingly in demand over any other method of watching live sport, which is swayed by the Gen Z demographic, young people and the transformation that digitalisation has integrated into mainstream media.

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DAZN are another global sports streaming service that has prospered hugely over the last few years. The aspiring ‘Netflix of Sports’ has immensely changed the way sport is consumed, particularly boxing. Boxing fans would usually purchase fights through pay-per-view (PPV) on Sky Sports or BT Sports box office. DAZN has revolutionised this through their monthly subscription model, allowing consumers to have access to a host of content for a lower price than a single PPV purchase. The international sports hub has also been responsible for boxings first-ever $1bn deal, seeing boxing promotion giants Matchroom Boxing increase their profile across the US.

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Even traditional broadcasters such as Sky Sports, BT Sport and ESPN are adapting to the algorithms of modern-day sports content. Sky Sports have recently announced a 25% price cut through OTT streaming service provider, NOW TV. Customers can now access 130 Premier League games alongside sports such as Formula 1, The Open Championship, World Darts Championship and much more. British competitors BT Sport are riding the OTT sports content wave by integrating their services across Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and Roku devices. This trend showcases the awareness of traditional broadcasters needing to change their strategy via their audience’s behaviours to access a more expansive suite of content through OTT platforms.

It’s clear enough that sports streaming has blown up due to its accessibility, convenience and inclusive content selection which scores them points over traditional sports broadcasters. Young audiences are becoming more influential in shaping modern-day sports content, who happen to engage positively through streaming mediums and eschew from traditional broadcasters due to cost and limited scope.

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With the booming demand for sports streaming, what does this mean for the future of sports broadcasting?

Firstly, the value in sports rights will change, including sports highlights becoming more value than live rights. As a Spurs supporter, I engage more with sports content across social media, YouTube and spin-off series compared to live sport which seems to be the case for the majority of other sports fans. Highlights vs live sport will become a large bidding space between sports broadcasters and streamers to engage current and new audiences to their mediums.

I believe young audiences across esports will transform into long-term sports consumers, esports the most significant ecosystem that withholds Gen Z, and younger demographics that traditional sports are enthralling right now.

With the growth of young audiences influencing sports content, this will have a polarising effect on broadcasters loosening their grip on their more senior audiences. Sports streaming is becoming more tech-savvy by the day, and a lot of its efforts are focusing on sustaining younger generations in the sector, leaving less attention paid towards their longer-term consumers. However, with the introduction of the Legends only League (LoL), this could turbocharge some nostalgia amongst those senior audiences.

Lastly, major traditional broadcasters like Sky Sports and BT Sport are likely to face more challenge to remain in demand for mass-market exposure. With the growth of Amazon Prime, Twitch and OTT subscriptions, the leverage will hold weight on that side of the scale for broadcasting activations.  

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The ‘streamification’ of sport presents an opportunity to leverage further inclusion across the sports market, speeding up the transformation of the industry’s evolution into an exciting global entertainment business, opening a realm of prospects for sport to become the most influential driver for online content.

Published by Ashwyn Lall

I'm a First-Class Graduate in Sports Business Management who has worked across Local Government, Sport and the Third Sector. Throughout my career, I've developed a thriving passion to promote sport being used as a tool to bring positivity to the world we live in. This ethos has inspired me to create a website which champions this value through comprehensive online content for you to gain value from. Join me on this journey of discovering what sport can do to enhance society.

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