Top 5 takeaways from the SportsPro OTT Summit 2021
The SportsPro OTT Summit 2021 was hosted at the impressive Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London last week and was the place to be for the biggest players and innovators in the world of OTT. Experts from the biggest Sports & eSports Streaming companies were in attendance, with the likes of BT Sport, DAZN, World Rugby and Eleven Sports presenting different topics, challenges and future trends of the industry.
Fonix had two of our team at the stadium to experience this first hand; Commercial Director Anthony Baladi and Commercial Manager David Foord, who have compiled their top 5 takeaways for you below:
# 1 Engagement is key for monetisation
DAZN’s Peter Parmenter discussed the importance of engagement and how to build interest by creating content around live games and matches, using younger presenters like Maya Jama to capture Gen Z and millennial audiences’ attention. He also talked about the idea of using multiple screens to channel content, like TV and phone. The idea is that through multiple devices, DAZN becomes your ‘sports concierge’, meaning audiences are no longer just watching the live event, DAZN’s content is with you all day, providing short and long-form content to keep audiences constantly updated. The NFL discussed their original collaboration with Nickelodeon to create ‘SlimeTime’, introducing famous children’s characters into a game show about American Football to engage young American fans — this was seen as a successful exercise.
To put this into perspective, the longer people’s eyes are on your content, the more involved they are, the more time they spend watching/researching players and so the more likely they are to purchase subscriptions.
# 2 Content style can drive subscribers
TikTok was the word on everyone’s lips throughout the event. TikTok marks the new era of short-form, bite-sized content, setting expectations for younger people to have immediate access to content, without having to watch an entire match to see the highlights.
Manchester City is driving huge engagement with TikTok using ‘talent’; footballers like Phil Foden and Jack Grealish have hosted social campaigns, showcasing challenge and trick videos to provide entertaining content. They also do more in-depth content about players and teams out of and around the matches. Similarly, DAZN hired a MOTOGP3 rider, Pedro Acosta, for a TikTok campaign — this drove half a million new subscribers in a few weeks!
# 3 Monetisation through gamification
Gamification was discussed in most of the panel sessions; the idea of play-along elements being incorporated into sports streaming. From interactive games, quizzes and who will score next, SportBuff won an award for ‘Best in Fan Engagement’ at the awards for their innovative interactive games. Their interactive games share the screen so users don’t have to jump between apps or leave the original content that they are watching.
This all drives further engagement to push viewers down the funnel towards monetisation, holding their interest and involving them, making viewers feel like they are taking part in the game, empowering them with an invested interest to become more involved.
# 4 Future trend: sports-betting through gamification
There was a lot of hype around enabling gambling payments during on-screen gamification.
Sports betting as a further element of gamification is yet to be developed worldwide and be widely accepted by rights holders and streaming services within the sports community. Betting within the content experience, enabling the ‘Who Will Score Next’ style questions, could keep people engaged and provide a monetary incentive to keep watching, thus increasing the overall watch time of the content. Some markets are beginning to open up to the idea and conversations are happening between sports rights holders and licensed gambling companies, who can integrate and support the gambling element within the content.
During a panel session, the NFL discussed that when they collaborated with a partner in the UK, Mexico and Germany to try this style of betting; it had a positive outcome and they’re taking the learnings to the US.
# 5 Women’s sport is heading into the limelight
Men’s sport has always dominated the sports community, both for fan engagement and viewership. Supporters of major sports also tend to be male. Women’s sports is important to ensure equality within the market but it also shows a lucrative opportunity for sports companies. Starting to engage young women now will mean they will grow up to watch more sport and the generations to follow will too.
Youtube’s Rob Pilgrim discussed their joint venture with DAZN to offer the women’s world cup from 2021–2025 all on YouTube for free to boost the sport. This will be offered digitally as it’s more powerful than linear. The 2020/2021 Olympic games had 7x times the viewership on YouTube this year when compared to the 2016 Olympics.
Cross-platform content discovery, increased view-time & interactive engagements were all key topics at the event — we look forward to seeing how these themes develop and the opportunities that arise to add mobile carrier billing into the mix!