MediaKind, the video technology company spun out of Ericsson in 2018, has published a Sports D2C Forecast for 2021 finding that almost all rights holders are looking towards direct consumer video platforms to engage more deeply with their fan base.
The research showed that while most of the 40 rights holders analyzed still define their D2C platform as complementary to broadcast coverage, it has often become an essential part of their future distribution strategy for live sport and building direct touchpoints with fans. Almost three quarters of the rights holders analyzed offer some form of D2C service to their fans today through subscription packages.
The report also shed some light on the intriguing question of whether many rights holders plan to stream primary matches live directly, cutting out pay TV operators or other distributors in the middle. The findings reveal a 50-50 split between rights-holders. Half use their D2C service purely as a supplementary content hub, focusing on delivering high-quality video. The other half concentrates on making full use of OTT's interactive possibilities, embedding fan engagement features into their services. In terms of distribution, 58% of the rights holders analyzed have a standalone D2C web domain, with the remaining 42% providing D2C services via a sub-domain of their main website. Just over a third of the total rights-holders offer their D2C service through a standalone mobile app.
MediaKind also highlights how current standalone D2C sports services are failing to utilize secondary monetization tools. None of the rights holders analyzed yet offer an integrated betting service for example. At the same time, features such as ticketing, exploited by 3% of rights-holders, merchandising by 5%, and advertising by 8% remain relatively rare, with greater priority placed on delivering a high quality viewing experience and user interface. Many rights holders expressed concern over how their future streaming service will stand up when faced with a high volume of concurrent live streams, despite recent technological advances. This suggests potential for partnering with technology vendors if rights holders do decide to take the plunge by going D2C with live streaming of the primary content.
"The results of our study are clear – rights-holders cannot afford to be without a D2C service moving forward,” said Raul Aldrey, Chief Product Officer, MediaKind. “All 40 of the rights-holders have recognized how D2C services offer crucial, data-driven touchpoints with their fans and provide unique opportunities to enhance fan engagement and tap into new monetization streams. But the performance of these D2C platforms remains table-stakes and fundamental to attracting and retaining audiences long-term. Future D2C services must guarantee stability at scale, and the overall delivery must be at least as good as the broadcast-quality linear services that sports fans have been accustomed to and enjoyed for decades."
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