The World of OTT and How it Impacts Next-Gen Sponsorship

Hilary Goldberg
March 9, 2021
5 min read
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Trak had the chance to attend the SportsPro OTT Summit USA. The summit consisted of two days packed with content that included insightful panels and discussions about the state of OTT platforms, looking at engaging audiences, technologies, where the world of OTT is heading, and how it creates next-gen sponsorship opportunities. Here are some of our key takeaways from the event.

Content is [still] king

  • Authentic storytelling is the crux of what makes compelling content. Viewers want more access than just game-time. More than ever, fans and viewers crave feeling connected with their favorite players, teams, organizations, etc. Wanting to know how they train, what they eat, what they do for fun – what games they play, music they listen to, what they are wearing while they do it, etc.
  • Original programming is a key component of what makes OTT platforms and offerings successful. Content exclusivity is the value proposition and point of differentiation for viewers to engage or subscribe to your platform or channel.
  • Shoulder programming is another component to fulfill this need and engage viewers beyond game-day. Leveraging athlete profiles, behind-the-scenes looks, and shaping stories around the person, in addition to the competition, transforms the off-season into valuable time that properties can further enhance the connection with their fans.
  • Highlighting star players is an opportunity and an asset to the team, league, and the broader sport. Youth fans are more likely to follow their favorite athletes first, creating a fan structure that rolls-up from athlete, to team, and then league. By leveraging the popularity of star players, teams and leagues can engage more casual fans with the potential of converting them to core fans.

Customization is here to stay as viewers are defining their own content experiences

  • ‘Generations’ are now ‘micro-generations’ with the tendencies and habits of young people shifting closer to the speed of technological development. Sixth graders are watching content and interacting with one another differently than their ninth-grade siblings.
  • Growing with these tech-setters means meeting them where they are or risking losing them as an engaged audience.
  • OTT is a great testing ground for new content, features, and viewing experiences. With infinite shelf-space, there is no limit to how much content can air, or technological integration can happen to enhance the viewing experience. Real-time viewership and engagement numbers provide instant feedback on what content and viewing experiences garner reaction and engagement, and which do not.

Data is one of your most valuable assets

  • Understanding your viewer is paramount to creating the customized experience they are looking for – you need to know what your audience wants before you can create it.
  • Insights prepare and allow you to make informed decisions about programming, content partners, long-form vs. short-form content, storylines, revenue models and more.
  • It can be easy to be consumed by data analysis. It is important to understand, define and focus on your priorities, to avoid getting lost in the mass amounts of data that are collected.

For rights holders, OTT is one tool in your media toolkit

  • The idea of broadcast rights fragmentation has often been considered an avenue for those rights to lose value. The other side of broadcast fragmentation is the creation of opportunity and the potential to increase your revenue channels. OTT is not a replacement for broadcast, rather a complement, even more so as the cost of production decreases and it becomes easier and easier to create content. It is an opportunity to expand reach across multiple channels and platforms, eventually creating an environment where you may lose a viewer on one platform but pick that same viewer up on another. It is important to have a clear vision of how your media rights are best utilized – as a direct source of revenue or a catalyst for growth of other revenue streams. Fragmentation is also a method of enhancing that customized experience for viewers. Diversification allows viewers to take the reins in creating their own OTT ‘packages’ with a selection of subscriptions that carry the content that is important to them.

Gamification shifts traditional linear 'push' models, to an engaging 'pull' model

  • Legalization of sports betting is relatively new, but the behavior of betting on sports is not. Sports betting has long been available in Las Vegas, or, illegally, via offshore sites and apps. The legalization of sports betting provides legitimacy to a long-time fan-behavior that allows them to have ‘skin-in-the-game’ and be more engaged and connected to what they are watching.
  • Free-to-play gaming is a great way to begin engaging users and viewers. Because it can take some time from when betting is made legal in each state to being operational, free-to-play is a great way to build a database of users that can be readily notified and informed when betting is online and available.
  • Integrating a reward structure is another great way to engage users and viewers. Rewards can come in a variety of shapes and forms – a badge, or leaderboard position, access to content or something more tangible such as a digital collectible. Rewards, of all types, inherently provide additional value to viewers and keep them engaged in your content and platform.

Partnership is based on product and people

  • Building those next generation partnerships is dependent on having both a reliable, and engaging product, as well as a nimble and collaborative team. Trends can shift in a moment, and the successful partnerships will be those that can work across organizations to navigate changes at the speed of technology.

The digital age is the next frontier and will continue to be an adventure to shape and explore. Big thanks to the team at SportsPro for hosting the OTT Summit USA, we learned a lot and are looking forward to next year!

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