“Sports is the last category of must-see-now content,” Jeffrey Cole, Founder and Director of the Center for the Digital Future told Broadcasting & Cable in an interview.

Understanding your audience is crucial to a successful Over-The-Top (OTT) platform strategy.  Knowing who they are, where they are, and what they like will determine how well a platform will perform.

These audience insights remain important at each stage of the OTT journey.  They help build an audience pre-platform, help grow it in its early stages, and help retain it to ensure platform longevity and commercial viability.

There is a growing demand for OTT content, especially in sports.  63% of all sports fans are interested in paying for an all-sports over-the-top channel.  Of those interested in streaming sports, 56% would pay more for online streaming than for traditional TV channels.

Understanding your audience means understanding data, and once we know how to collect and analyse the relevant data it will provide the foundation for a winning OTT platform.


If creating and maintaining an OTT platform is a viable objective for your organisation, then other digital channels should already be well established.  These channels, such as website and social media profiles, will form your ecosystem, and are essential tools to reach, retain and grow your audience.

Social media platforms are an important piece of the OTT puzzle.  They are not only the source of continued audience growth, but also the home of competition narratives told through content distribution and are excellent low cost mediums for advertising.

Online advertising is an essential part of reaching your OTT audience.  In 2015, Netflix reported better-than-expected subscriber growth, largely down to a 59% annual increase in marketing budget.

REDTORCH recently were tasked with engaging the audience for the premiere OTT broadcast of a series of live sports events – the APP World Tour.  Implementing a multi-platform approach, which included installing features like a Facebook Pixel, we were able to drive down the average cost-per-click (CPC) of Facebook advertising to $0.15, with a low of $0.09According to Salesforce, the sports industry average CPC is $0.36.

If planned properly, your online advertising campaigns will reach the right people for the right amount of money.

OTT sport


How do platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Netflix keep their audience?

Continuous user engagement increases commercial viability.  This should be front of mind for every organisation running an OTT platform.  Data drives the design of the elements of these platforms that hold the user’s attention.

These insights aren’t exclusive to the industry leaders.  Smaller organisations can still use data to grow their OTT platform.  As well as algorithms, there are some methods to keeping an audience interested that can be implemented by OTT platforms of all shapes and sizes.

One example is A/B testing.  This process can help determine what should be the default user experience.  Netflix does this thoroughly, with some changes resulting in as much as 20% to 30% more viewing for a specific title.  The beauty of this testing is that it can be scaled accordingly – with more users and more resources you can test far more features to ensure your platform is tailored to your audience.

And don’t forget about social media.  A wealth of data can be collected from online advertising campaigns.  This data will help you create detailed audience personas that will help refine your campaigns, allowing you to grow your audience with new insights, and also retarget those loyal users with content you know they engage with.

Using data to tailor your approach to specific audience groups is important.  Different groups will engage with different content, and these insights are gathered through collecting and analyzing data trends.  By doing this, REDTORCH was able to maintain a significant viewership across the three APP World Tour events and achieve a 19.1% increase in local viewership for the first overseas event in Japan.


To own a sustainable OTT platform, the quantity of your audience is nothing without the quality.  This is especially true if the OTT platform is event-orientated like those in the sports industry.  The rise in OTT content has diluted the concept of a local sports market.  Audiences can now be grown far and wide – the challenge is growing a loyal one.  This is achieved through continuous data analysis, using the right technology, and a tailored advertising strategy.

PART II of the trilogy discusses the importance of using the right technology, and Part III (coming soon) the nature of a successful content strategy.  Part I provides the foundation – that it’s data that should drive the decisions behind running an OTT platform.  It’s data that provides the audience insights to make it successful.