As the NBA looks to return, live streams will be more important than ever. How can leagues look to capitalize on the added visibility giving to their broadcast product?
The sports world has been turned upside down, and leagues are looking for ways to not only provide entertainment for fans across the globe but to also maintain revenue. When the NBA season was tabled in March, the league was trying to determine the best course of action: to resume and continue the season at some point, or lose what some experts projected to be approximately $900 million in TV revenue if the playoffs were canceled.
Now that it looks like the NBA will likely resume in late July without fans, there is still plenty of opportunities to make up for lost revenue during the hiatus. This can only be accomplished, however, if the home and ‘mobile’ viewing experience lives up to an arena-like feel and includes a number of unique features that allow fans to interact with the content and with each other in real-time.
Livestreaming Tech Issues The NBA Could Face
The remainder of the season is expected to draw massive numbers of sports-deprived fans looking to watch something live — especially with pundits naming some of the new NBA suggested formats as must-watch matchups. In order to live up to these standards, the technology provider’s the league is using to live stream games must be synchronized and latency-free. If not, they will likely encounter angry fans posting complaints about social media. Alternatively, if they are able to deliver a seamless and positive streaming experience, they will not only win over fans but also open up new opportunities to increase their bottom line.
Precedent within the sports world doesn’t necessarily bode well for the NBA to capitalize on real-time streaming content. During this year’s NFL Super Bowl, fans who were streaming the game saw delays anywhere from 45 seconds to 55 seconds — meaning those following along on social media while watching, likely had several spoiled moments from those watching live. Seeing a tweet about a big moment down the stretch before it actually plays out on their own screen — because of the latency and lack of a synchronized experience — can be a true deal-breaker for viewers.
If the NBA has similar tech-induced live streaming issues this summer while even more fans are at home streaming the games, these spoiled moments could become commonplace, and excitement around the league’s return will dwindle. NBA fans have been patiently waiting to see their favorite team back on the hardwood competing for a title, so if their streaming services are experiencing delays and can’t support the influx of viewers, it won’t take long to see the backlash from those fans who’s entire viewing experience is being spoiled by sub-par tech.
Bringing The Arena Into Our Homes
Once platforms nail down the proper technology — capable of providing real-time and synchronous streams to large audiences — there is ample opportunity to introduce features that will keep fans watching and engaged. Features like live chats where viewers can react to every possession, or live polls via social media to ask viewers to predict who will win this jump ball can enhance the viewing experience, keep fans engaged for longer periods of time and provide new revenue streams for all brands involved.
Interactive features will make watching much more enjoyable during these socially distant times as viewers can connect across state lines — but this is only possible if streaming technology is delivered in sync so everyone can watch and engage at the same time and in real-time. Building on top of this concept, platforms can even introduce increasingly popular prediction games, contests, and polls and, sports betting features into future live streams. Fans would not only be able to bet on the outcome of every game, but also on individual plays, like every clutch free throw in overtime.
Bolstering The League’s Bottom Line
Cord-cutters are growing by the minute, especially after many Americans decided to disconnect at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic when live sports simply weren’t available. This transition was a natural progression of consumer habits — it’s expected that by 2024, 91 million consumers will be live streaming — so leagues are running the risk of being left behind if they don’t adapt now, rather than trying to catch up to those 91 million later.
Increased revenue potential through interactive real-time streams can only be achieved by consistently providing top-notch streaming technology. With millions of fans tuning into the NBA this summer and fall, this is the perfect opportunity to capitalize on live streaming and not only meet revenue projections but exceed them. If the brands involved can successfully rethink what it means to “watch” in 2020, they’ll be able to pioneer the next level of sports entertainment.
Chicago-based Phenix Real-Time Solutions is a leading provider of global real-time IP video solutions. We offer an end-to-end solution by capturing signals from the source and handle encoding, ingest, transcoding, composition, and content delivery to any device. Phenix is the only company that can deliver content to broadcast sized audiences while maintaining less than 1/2 second of latency. To learn more about Phenix, visit: www.phenixrts.com