Video, Football, Multiple sports, Global

‘The most transformative innovations are yet to come’: How the disruptors see OTT

For the fourth instalment of our OTT Summit Speaker Series we sat down with ESL, FloSports and Second Spectrum.

by Tom Bassam
‘The most transformative innovations are yet to come’: How the disruptors see OTT

With the SportsPro OTT Summit in Madrid drawing near, we have undertaken a series of interviews with a selection of the top-level industry voices featuring on stage in November.

Focusing on broadcasters, social media leaders, disruptors and industry experts, these roundtable discussions will offer a preview to the kind of insights on offer to delegates in November.

For the fourth instalment of our OTT Summit Speaker Series we sat down with Torsten Haux, ESL’s vice president, media rights; Tim Sullivan, FloSports chief product officer; and Mike D’Auria, vice president, Second Spectrum.

What role, if any, does OTT play in levelling the playing field in the sports broadcasting landscape?

Tosten Haux: Over-the-top (OTT) can reach not only a wider and rising audience but can also be a strong distribution chain - especially for original programming and editorial content. This brings added value to esports fans besides the thousands of hours of esports action.

Tim Sullivan: OTT makes more sports available than linear. The format is more flexible without specific time slots, which limit the accessibility of sports. The linear model doesn’t conform to fans’ shifting consumption habits, particularly the younger generation. In research we’ve done with our subscribers, 50 per cent of parents don’t believe their children will ever have cable. Meanwhile, OTT caters to fans’ interests so that they can watch what they want, when they want, and how they want. Also, rights holders love OTT because they don’t have to be relegated to inconvenient time slots, which limit their reach, and they can have a more direct relationship with their fans.

Mike D’Auria: OTT enables new and innovative approaches to content distribution, and creates a huge opportunity for rights holders, technology and media companies to deliver better experiences to fans. OTT provides a unique two-way connection between digital content and viewers, which technology can leverage to deliver personal, interactive experiences, tailored to the individual fan, at scale. Broadcasters no longer need to create a single experience to distribute to as many fans as possible. 

What do you see as the best content innovations that have come out of OTT?

TH: Personally, I like the strong storytelling and behind-the-scenes output such as the ‘All or Nothing’ project on Amazon.

TS: More than anything else, it’s access to authentic, 24/7 content for sports that might not otherwise have any platform.

MD: We believe that the most transformative innovations in the OTT space are yet to come. As OTT viewership continues to grow, we have seen latency and quality of streaming improve, but the viewing experience is largely the same as traditional linear broadcasts. Second Spectrum builds technology that helps rights holders unlock the power of OTT connections to deliver transformative new experiences to fans. We are excited for what the future holds. 

What are the keys to engaging OTT content?

TH: As mentioned above, I think it is a mix of exclusive and engaging content. As OTT can focus on specific target groups better than mainstream TV, there can be the highly sought-after deep dive into esports’ stories and formats, as well as its heroes.

TS: There are three things: firstly a direct relationship with fans – OTT gives you access to first-party data to gain insights on user preferences and consumption habits.

Secondly, data: what the data provides is useful in terms of which content we invest in and how we market our events before, during, and after they occur. In addition, we know which content is likely to improve subscriber retention.

Finally, authenticity: this is crucial to our brand because our coverage resonates with our audience. We don’t dumb down our coverage. Rather, we speak up to our audience, which elevates the sport and attracts new fans.

MD: Interactivity. Personalisations. Integration of data, graphics, and other content streams. 

Who do you see as leaders in the sector and why?

TH: Amazon, due to its global reach, and Netflix due to its intelligent clustering of their content for specific target groups. Let’s see how this will spread out in the future when it comes to specific platforms for specific target groups.

TS: We’re proud of our product, how we deliver it, and our relationships with our rights holders, and we’d put ourselves up against anyone else in the space.

What OTT Summit session are you most looking forward to?

TH: I think the overall program looks really stunning and compelling so I don’t have a personal favourite.

TS: There are so many great panels this year, I’m really excited to soak everything in. I think the sessions on esports and fan engagement in OTT will be really compelling.

MD: ‘Inside Sky Sports’ streaming and OTT strategy’ and ‘How social and OTT platforms are changing sports consumption forever’.

Torsten Haux, Tim Sullivan and Mike D’Auria are speaking at the OTT Summit, which is taking place at Meliá Castilla in Madrid from 28th to 29th November. For more information, click here.