Benedicte Guichard| Mon May 23 2016 CET| Industry insights
We’ve talked about the sports sector a lot recently – it is a hot topic after all. The growth in online sports viewership is astounding, to say the least, and we are expecting big things to happen this year and beyond. With these developments, come a host of questions, one of the big ones is: will people pay for Over-The-Top (OTT) sports subscription services?
Well, according to a study carried out by the Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg and Post Game, when someone creates an all sports Over-The-Top subscription service, 63% of all sports fans are keen to pay for one. For households with children, this number rises to 70% and to 78% for people who describe themselves as intense sports fans.
From these stats alone, it’s plain to see the potential in the partnership between sports and OTT technology. Sports has become a category of must see content and as such, many people subscribe to these kinds of services with a sense of urgency.
According to the survey on which the study is based, there is little doubt that there is a healthy market for sports and OTT subscriptions:
The ultimate sport that has been using direct-to-consumer models to distribute their video content is martial arts, especially boxing. Pay-per-view (PPV) as revenue model has proved that can generate great revenues for live broadcasters, by targeting their enthusiastic power fans that want their content live and available on every device. But lately, the prices over $50 (plus cable subscription fee) have an impact on the purchase decision for “non-power fans”.
That’s why, live broadcasters are considering the options to diversify their service portfolio with some variations of SVOD and TVOD models. This means allowing non-subscribers to stream PPV content for one flat fee and delayed broadcasts (on-demand video) for a less cheaper price.
It’s fair to say the market is strong; it’s safe to say that the market is healthy.
Of course, it’s great to see that people are so keen to take advantage of OTT subscriptions services, but certain standards must be met to earn their loyalty. Although more and more people are migrating to these kinds of services, it looks like there is a lack of focus concerning quality of user experience, especially when it comes to live stream.
Actual Experience recently released their Q1 report on the consumer perception of digital content experience. Their numbers show that only 22% of end-users reported very consistent and high quality experience and 78% of all organisations face some inconsistency with their digital experience quality.
That has implications on the provider success numbers:
One organisation that works on standardizing quality of experience (QoE) in streaming video is Streaming Video Alliance (SVA). This month they officially released guidelines for streaming media delivery, including functional requirements for open caching and its first set of guidelines for QoE.
In order to compete and keep subscribers, streaming and buffering standards must be maintained to a solid standard. And providers are starting to wise up.
Here’s what Allen Broome, VP, IP Video Engineering, Comcast, had to say about customer experience:
“In a lot of the testing we’re doing on UHD, until we get to screens over 85 in., the average consumer can’t tell the difference between HD and UHD. What we’re seeing from a quality perspective is high dynamic range [having a huge impact], and that’s what we’re pursuing. We’re going to have some HDR content out fairly soon.”
So, to answer our original question: yes, wide varieties of sports fans are willing to pay for OTT subscriptions services, and we’re expecting numbers to increase in the not so distant future.
Sporting events are amongst entertaining forms of visual entertainment on the planet, and as OTT and the world of online sports grows, more and more people will be queuing up to get their hands on a subscription or two.