Content, content and content: the future of sports broadcast
By Marius Merten, Sports Broadcast Manager, MRMC
In recent years, one common trend has been growing across the sports broadcast industry: we’ve never seen more content being generated and distributed. This is due to three drivers, which I intend to explore here – from why they are happening, to how they can be tackled with technology.
The first driver is the growth in demand for customisation. Thanks to the proliferation of OTT platforms and alternative digital channels, viewers are able to consume more individualised, diverse content, targeting groups of different ages and interests. The internationalisation of broadcast products also plays a part in this. It is not only about offering more languages, but also about visual customisation – of aspects like advertising, for example, or showing different angles of a match, personalising the storytelling.
Secondly, the amount of sports content consumption increases simply due to a different consumption behaviour coming especially from younger generations. Here, social media plays a formative role. Content is boring if it is repetitive, so a high frequency of content is important to engage these audiences. And, finally, third comes a global desire for growth from owners but also venture capitalists who are getting into businesses and pushing even harder for return. This, amidst a global financial crisis, will also shape the industry and change what drives content creation.
The trend towards more content will continue in the coming years. This is the case even in difficult times, as investors will push for more media presence to grow different sports out of crises. Still, there will, of course, be some limits following the idea of “less is more”. Adding special cameras to the field will continue to be a great way to offer alternative storytelling to customise the fan experience and generate more growth. But this will always have a limit when you only have a certain amount of broadcast time. Additionally, “less is more” comes into play when we reach a kind of stagnation where we are not able to generate more business with more content.
An affordable (and sustainable) way of responding to this demand for more content is by turning to remote or fully automated production technologies – something that many businesses and lower-tier sports are exploring, such as Polymotion Player. Such installations are opening many opportunities for the back-end cloud and OTT businesses, as well as for AI-based archive technology that can help find and recycle old sports content. We currently see many different OTT platforms trying to copy what others set as a reference. This will continue in the next few years, but not every solution and every company will survive. There will naturally be a consolidation and takeover phase.
Despite the proliferation of content, we can expect an unrivalled standard that cannot be achieved with low-tier sports productions. Tier 1 and Tier 2 sports will continue to set the standard for a high-quality product that many fans will want to consume. Such high-value products are more complex and cannot be that easily replicated by low-cost systems that we see in lesser-known sports productions. So, in the near future, there will still be a desire for more content, but what comes after that?
As technology evolves, we can expect that systems used in both lesser-known and high-quality sports productions will slowly become interchanged. We’re already seeing this with top-tier broadcasters adopting cloud-based systems that were only used in smaller production in their studios, as these technologies grow in quality. Both production standards will inevitably come to a place where they melt at their borders, and I can’t wait to see this future.