Is It Time to Re-balance Your Sports Video Content Strategy? Social, TV & D2C OTT.

This is the third in a four-part series guest-authored by video tech expert Brian Ring. This post previews Ring Digital’s Fall 2020 #FutureOfTV Survey, which is a fresh, 2020 re-run of 2017 consumer survey of sports video highlights viewers and their social media app habits. To get a copy for free and join our Live Webinar, visit: FutureOfTV.Live

The dynamism of the media business makes it a fun industry. But balancing the needs of viewers, advertisers and direct-to-consumer video services across a turbulent, fragmenting landscape isn’t easy.

Case in point?

Sports video highlights. This valuable post-game sports programming was originally the domain of local broadcast news teams. Highlights were provided under a gratis license construct and stakeholders were aligned in the practice.

The rise of cable TV saw ESPN’s SportsCenter and the local RSN investing in fresh, creative programming that was anchored in highlights, summaries and analysis.

Then came social media and mobile video. Young viewers disappeared from TV. And sports networks had no choice but to up their social media highlights game.

But in-progress, real-time highlights are different from post-game uses.

Putting real-time highlights all over social media helps you reach audiences -- especially younger ones -- where they’re consuming media today. It can have the positive effect of driving tune-in to a broadcast of a game or match in real-time, whether streaming or on TV. That serves as critical bait for distracted audiences that may have wandered into a non-sports rabbit hole.

But do we want their go-to destination for sports video highlights to be a social media app? If so, which social media platform is most important? Or, perhaps we want their go-to destination to be our TV Network app? Or maybe our Team or League app?

What’s the right balance between providing free, non-exclusive content fuel to ad-supported social platforms versus exclusive, unique, paid content to D2C OTT efforts?

And perhaps more critically, in those owned-and-operated digital apps, what are the “Yes, I’d pay for that!” features of a best-in-class personalized sports video experience?

We’ve explored these questions in a forthcoming consumer survey, Sports Video Highlights and Social Media, Take 2. (This is part of Ring Digital’s #FutureOfTV Survey series. It’s a re-run of a 2017 study.) In addition, we’ve invited media industry experts Patrick Crakes, Salil Dalvi and Art Raymond to a Live Webinar discussion on related topics. Learn more here: FutureOfTV.Live

How Valuable Are Sports Video Highlights in the D2C OTT Era?

At a recent SportsPro Media conference, Turner Sports VP Pete Scott said, “Video highlights will be more valuable than live rights.” It’s a bold take. But he also provided additional context for his remark, that the ecosystem itself needs to enable this, achieving new monetization possibilities and a more balanced economics for various stakeholders.

“All of us are going to have to figure out ways where we balance the ecosystem economically to make that work. How do we make highlights just as monetizable as three-hour events? How do we make sure it’s delivered to the right person, on the right platform, for his or her personalization? That’s what we’re focusing on, working with great tech companies to figure out where that goes and where we can create the value exchange.”[1]

A critical foundation to help kickstart such monetizable, personalized, premium highlights experiences is increasing the quality, volume and velocity of unique video content assets.

More clips from more angles with more stats and augmented reality enhancements. This not only helps leagues, teams, players, super-fans and influencers create tailored clips that travel further on social media, it also helps to create the supply for highly-specialized, exclusive content that owned-and-operated properties need.

One example? Intel’s True View, a brand new video format being promoted with catchy sports TV ads. True View highlights use something called volumetric video, which is a combination of 360 degree camera angles along with the ability to zoom-in and out, essentially giving every user complete control for their own instant replays.

Do fans want this?

Take a peek at the consumer survey data in Figure 1 below. This is a special preview of data from the Fall 2020 #FutureOfTV Survey coming out on October 9. In it, a sample of 1,400 sports highlights viewers rank their preferences for video enhancements. In the figure below, we note that True View can be thought of as both multiple camera angles as well as super super slo-mo and zoom. Those two selections comprise 53% of the responses.

Another 33% of the responses can be thought about as AR/XR content enhancements.


Figure 1. How To Improve Video Highlights Apps.



But whether any particular content-plus-user-experience tactic is the next SportsCenter or not is perhaps less important than the constant need to improve, reinvent and innovate on these dimensions. More content, higher quality content, more delightful and personalized user experiences with it.

Already, leading leagues are generating hundreds of thousands of clips in a season and mapping those clips not only to their own social profiles, but to team, player and even fan distribution pipelines. The variations are nearly infinite and ultimately data analytics will help us determine what works, and what to replicate.

With this strategy, media innovators can seize upon the opportunity to build super-premium, advanced sports video experiences. The window is still open. But it will not remain open forever.

And difficult questions still need to be addressed. How will critical relationships between players and leagues evolve over time, as social media currency rises? Can we bring more real-time, super-fan feedback into our existing TV broadcast feeds to improve engagement?

But whatever the future brings, we can bet that a central component to success with sports highlights monetization is going to be workflow automation. Not just any workflow automation -- smart, creative-worker-designed automation. Reliable integrations with editing and creation systems. Advanced media asset management.

Levels Beyond calls it Dynamic Media Orchestration.

The right technology for building rapid turnaround video highlights workflows is as flexible as the media business is dynamic.

And REACH ENGINE is the category leader. The platform is deployed at 70+ customers in both media and enterprise environments.

If you have to reach sports video viewers everywhere, with platform specific content, and rapid turnaround times, please register now for our Free Report and Live Webinar or set a meeting with Art Raymond in October.

[1] Video highlights will be more valuable than live rights,” says WarnerMedia VP; Ed Dixon; August 21, 2020; SportsPro Media; URL:

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