VOD Use Cases for Sports Entertainment
Some 12 years ago, I found myself lined up field-side at the New England Patriots training camp to watch players practice, run drills, and sign autographs. Not being a die-hard football fan, it took me more than a minute to figure out what all of the fuss was about. But whatever my personal interest in sports, I couldn’t resist the infectious enthusiasm of Pats fans who wanted nothing more than to learn what their favorite players thought about the coming season, who was in their best form and likely to be in the starting lineup as games commenced, and whether Rob Gronkowski (then Patriots Tight End) would grace us with his signature touchdown spike.
As someone who will happily watch blooper reels for tv shows, I really shouldn’t have been all that surprised. Fandoms aren’t just audiences for discreet events. They are communities that hunger for all manner of content related to their favorite pastimes. So why then when we think of digital sports entertainment, are our minds still jumping right to live event broadcasts or streaming live through our favorite apps?
Even as we discuss revolutionizing sports entertainment, we hear so much about live content, be it betting, commentary, or other interactive opportunities. Where are the exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes footage that brought fans to a chilly Gillette Stadium in droves? And for those sports entertainment apps that are providing this content, what more could they be doing to engage fans and build revenue?
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VOD and Sports Streaming Landscape
Video on demand (VOD) streaming refers to any platform where viewers can select from a content menu and view their chosen selection immediately. It stands in contrast to live streaming or prescheduled broadcasts, both of which necessitate viewers tune in at a specific time. It’s a delivery mechanism captured by everyone from Netflix to your company’s internal HR training system.
VOD can be purely utilitarian or easily monetized. Even businesses whose premium content is not their bread and butter can find in a supplementary VOD offering an additional revenue stream. As more businesses add these supplementary revenue streams or opt to become the next popular movie streaming service, the VOD market continues to grow and is projected to reach upwards of $230 billion by 2027.
Now let’s pair this with the fact that more and more families are watching their sports over an internet connection (i.e. streaming), including more than a third of US households. And we’re not just talking through popular OTT streaming platforms like Amazon Prime Video, which became the exclusive source for Thursday Night Football in 2022. Viewers are catching sports content on everything from Twitch and YouTube to social media.
As both VOD and sports streaming grow in popularity, it’s a good time for teams, networks, and other sports brands to figure out how to cash in.
Replay Whole Games or Favorite Moments
Replays aren’t just for locker room debriefs or penalty reviews. Anyone who has had to endure a family member hiding from the internet all day before they can watch the game they missed the night before will tell you that fans don’t mind watching (or rewatching) games long after they’ve aired.
Benefit to Viewers
Not only can viewers watch the game on their timeline, but they can also enjoy pausing, rewinding, and replaying key moments.
Benefit to You
The beauty of a live-to-VOD approach is that repurposing once live content for on-demand viewing is not resource intensive. You’ve already got the content; you’re just making the most of it.
Consider a subscription video on demand (SVOD) approach. Viewers can pay a monthly or yearly fee for unlimited access to game recordings and the ability to rewind and fast-forward without ads.
Fans love to learn more about their favorite players. Sports broadcasters often deliver with sideline interviews and post-game footage. But why should such content be limited to live broadcasts?
Benefit to Viewers
Fans can select from a menu of options to watch interviews, practice bloopers, behind-the-scenes event footage, and more. A VOD service would make the items easy to find and play on a whim.
Benefit to You
Demonstrate added value to your customer base. Easily navigable supplementary content will set you apart from other sports media services. Specific teams and similar organizations can also help you foster a stronger fan community.
This is another solid candidate for SVOD, the most popular of the VOD monetization models. However, advertising-based video on demand (AVOD) could also play very well in an environment filled with bite sized content. Pepper ads in and around behind-the-scenes content or opt for a hybrid model and let viewers pay more for an add free experience.
Additional and Exclusive Game Commentary
Sure there’s broadcaster commentary and post-game press conferences. But what about self-recorded premium player content reviewing plays, favorite moments, and more? Or what about more tailored and in-depth broadcaster and reporter content that dives into the game in a way only true fans would appreciate?
Benefit to Viewers
Fans can get an in depth understanding of the game like never before. They control the experience by selecting what they want to hear about and from who.
Benefit to You
Same as above. Added content options equates to added value. Make your sports media app or streaming service like no other.
Shorter form versions of this content work well with SVOD, AVOD, or hybrid approaches. Particularly lengthy commentary or content from extremely popular players could be gated with a transactional video on demand (TVOD) approach.
The above suggestions are the lowest hanging fruit. There’s no reason you couldn’t rally your team around some particularly unusual and creative alternatives.
- Popular quarterback does a video tutorial on how to throw a football.
- Favorite coach gives a history lesson on some of the more unusual football plays.
- NBA rookie runs through the recipe for his pre-game smoothie.
- Highlight reel of the funniest baseball moments in the past decade.
Do you know a sports fan who would pay a subscription for regular access to this sort of content? Because I definitely do.
Where do you go from here? First know that an effective VOD service comes with some key features.
To start, let’s talk about the integrity of your streams. You’ll want a platform that’s reliable, scalable, and secure. Explore VOD platforms that provide access to video content delivery networks (CDNs) for easy scaling to a national or global audience of any size. While you’re at it, look into a VOD platform with access to digital rights management (DRM) tools to help protect your content from pirating or unauthorized access. Finally, consider a solution with a reliable and efficient media server that can easily transcode video files for high-quality delivery.
Next, consider the viewer experience. Your VOD platform provider should come with an intuitive and fully-featured content management system (CMS) that enables you to organize and store content for easy front-end retrieval. This video CMS can and should include advanced analytics, allowing you to gain insight into stream health and viewer behaviors. Of course, one of the biggest factors in viewer experience is the online video player. Make sure yours provides smooth, quality video with easy-to-use tools. The ideal video player will also come hand-in-hand with player-specific analytics.
Wowza offers both a fully-featured cloud-based service or a highly customizable software, depending on your unique needs. Both of them can be used in conjunction with our expansive global CDN, DRM security features, CMS, and best-in-class video player. This brings us to the final thing you want to find in a VOD platform: a streaming partner that is customer-centric and solutions-oriented. Contact Wowza, describe your needs, and let us help you find the best path forward.
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About Sydney Roy (Whalen)
Sydney works for Wowza as a content writer and Marketing Communications Specialist, leveraging roughly a decade of experience in copywriting, technical writing, and content development. When observed in the wild, she can be found gaming, reading, hiking, parenting, overspending at the Renaissance Festival, and leaving coffee cups around the house.