Large-scale live sports streaming opens up new ways to engage viewers with true immersive experiences
MEDIA EXPERTS BLOG SERIES
From: Kenth Andersson, Head of Strategic Alliances
Live sports realize the promise of IP, cloud and DTC
Direct to consumer (DTC) offerings continue to advance, especially in over-the-top platforms like DAZN, Flosports, Disney+, or ESPN+, the shift to streaming in sports has reached a tipping point. Indeed, the DTC model is emerging as the new standard to deliver sport. Federations and leagues are taking more control of media rights deals and creating DTC platforms to do so.
The ability to originate live streams from the game and distribute straight to the screens of fans worldwide at low latency and at broadcast quality is now table stakes.
Operators are not standing still either. By leveraging the cloud, operators can now remotely access the tools and capabilities in a way that was not possible previously. In turn, that enables them to add more engagement options for end users and to focus on providing value to their content and service partners with sports streaming services.
Pandemic gains made permanent
After spending the two years working remotely and learning what works and what doesn’t, the industry is making distributed live production techniques permanent. Fewer and fewer outside broadcast trucks will be rolling out to venues this year and fewer still beyond that.
The use of cloud services is widely understood as a viable solution for live video workflows, allowing organizations to realize the operational flexibility of paying for the actual use of resources per event. Not only that, a driver behind cloudification is the heightened demand for platform flexibility. Operators can combine linear with on-demand and direct-to-consumer offerings by consolidating their playout services and creating a unified backend. Utilizing broadcast grade cloud technologies, operators can handle service orchestration, content management, encoding, transcoding and metadata for multiple DTH and DTC services.
There’s also an accelerated need to deliver an immersive and engaging streaming experience. Virtual watch parties, for example, have allowed fans to show their support while interacting with other fans, and in some cases athletes themselves. It is also much easier to stream multiple games in parallel during a sports event such as from a tennis tournament. Streaming enables personalization, and by personalizing the streams you can create a much more intimate relationship between fans and their favorite game or team.
In 2022, content owners will further enhance the user experience and drive higher fan engagement with game stats, behind-the-scenes and backstage content, clips for game highlights, unique or multiple viewpoints of the game, as well as a growing set of fan interaction tools such as watch together, polls and chats.
Audiences goes where the action is
Not that this is just about the most watched games and sports. DTC is also a unique opportunity for smaller sports organizations to find their audience. From local, regional, second and third tier leagues, niche sports events that have previously been too expensive and complex to produce now represent a gold mine for major production companies and national broadcasters.
We see this maelstrom of trends converging in 2022 around a wave of activity in which content owners, rights holders and service providers will need to organize, optimize, and deliver immersive visual content to eager audiences. New and additional services including AR/VR will be important in conjunction with their OTT services in the coming years. 2021 has given us clear signals that the market is really taking off, opening growth opportunities with AR/VR.
To meet rising demand, sports broadcasters, streaming services, and rights holders need a technology strategy that allows them to support a diverse range of production models. Ideally this enables them to take video feeds from anywhere in the world and simultaneously deliver them to multiple – up to hundreds – of destinations over the internet, via private network or cloud networks – or any combination depending on need.
On demand cloud-based production-as-a-service
Just such a model was launched by The Switch. MIMiC is an on-demand cloud-based production-as-a-service designed to cater for the groundswell in demand for remote production of live and virtual events.
MIMiC Transmission is powered by Nimbra Edge. This fact alone enabled The Switch to offer a point to point and point to multipoint distribution network – globally. Nimbra Edge is vendor and format agnostic, allowing for true interoperable workflows built on industry standards.
With Nimbra Edge innovators like The Switch can create multiple live streams with five nines reliability for contributing and distributing compelling content online, equally with the high-quality productions expected by traditional national broadcasters.
The success of MIMiC reflects the fact that, in a multi-device world, viewers are no longer tied to the TV screen to watch sports or other live content. Streaming and social media are increasingly driving viewer engagement. At the same time, rights holders are seeking ways to meet the seemingly insatiable demand more efficiently for live content.
Net Insight Nimbra Edge is the industry standard technology platform, open, cloud-agnostic, and easy-to-use, on which new opportunities in live sports are being built today.