Sports OTT services: five things to consider

September 20, 2021

by Marco Lorenzi

The rise of sports streaming has been relentless for a few years now. And it comes as no surprise that the appetite for live sports action remains very high even amid the new rules imposed on in-person attendance at the venue.

General trends are highlighting a progressive erosion of the linear TV consumption landscape, in favour of digital outputs. And that’s why more and more sports entities – from governing bodies to single clubs – are looking at owned and operated OTT services to maximise the impact of their rights, and to reach previously unexplored territories.

We rounded up five key elements to keep well in mind when thinking of sports OTT services. Read on.

#1. Multi-device access

It might be part of the OTT 101, but having your service to seamlessly work across a variety of devices today is a must. Long gone are the days of users simply sitting on the sofa of their living room to enjoy events in their entirety. Today, even sports content is consumed on the go, either as the event unfolds or on-demand. Or, when you cannot resist the appeal of a big screen, secondary devices are used simultaneously, deepening the experience and making it one to remember. We spoke about interusability across multiple devices already: it’s integral to a satisfactory customer experience. 

#2. Live distribution

The magic of sports happens in real time. There’s nothing like waiting for your favourite sporting event to start and catching the action as it unfolds, seamlessly, on your screen of choice. Your sports streaming OTT service undoubtedly needs to be built on solid foundations, with the capability of delivering live streams that provide your audience with the content they choose to consume, play by play, and with low latency. Being able to automate the process of scheduling multiple events to go live at a given time of the day is also paramount. Especially with simple controls  across a comprehensive management system.

#3. On-demand capabilities

What if a live offering is not enough to satisfy your audience’s thirst for content? Providing on-demand access to events is another milestone your sports OTT service cannot do without. VOD allows your fan-bases to easily access sporting events at a later stage, if they missed them in real time, or to live through them again. At Simplestream, we pioneered eight years ago Live-to-VOD within our proprietary Media Manager backend content management solution. It’s the easiest way to automate the process of generating VOD backlogs of content within minutes of a broadcast or event ending. It’s a fact: having a strong set of features for your live and on-demand content grants you that flexibility that’s needed to stand out in the crowded sports OTT space.

#4. Flexible business models

The way you control and manage your value proposition is one of the key indicators of success for your OTT service. Especially in sport, you need multiple options to craft your own business model, whether you are a world-class platform delivering content to millions of fans, or a smaller entity. An easy-to-navigate management system for your user-base and the entitlements to access content is at the top of the list of priorities. Think of a subscription-based service with annual plans to cover the entire ‘season’ of sporting events. You might still want to leave your yearly flagship event out of that proposition, with further opportunities for monetisation for your existing fan-base, or to create additional selling points – purchasable separately from the regular plan – for new segments of the audience you intend to target.

#5. Localised services and global markets

Sport has the power to enhance global reach, across multiple audiences. It’s not a matter of a single country or region, it can appeal to fans across the whole world. With scalability in mind, your OTT service should think big and meet the needs of a global audience. We mentioned flexibility in your business models above, it’s also important to focus on the right payment provider to integrate in your services. At Simplestream, we work to bring best-in-class payment gateways, allowing for payments in multiple currencies, together with service localisation and languages for selected markets.

Any questions on how we can help you build a next generation sports OTT service? ➡️ Get in touch here, we’d love to hear from you!