In Part I of OTT trilogy, we built the foundation of a successful OTT platform with data.  Understanding data means understanding your audience.  In Part II, we put in place the next building block – OTT technology.
To go digital or not is yesterday’s question.  Today’s question is how to succeed in this space.  The technologies competing in OTT are rapidly evolving, but they all signify a permanent change in consumer behaviour.  Average viewing for Sky’s live TV channels fell 14% over the course of the 2016/17 Premier League season – their lowest point in seven years. Sky is responding to changing consumer behaviour by scrapping its numbered sports channels and replacing them with themed offerings focused on specific sports.  Delivering content via an OTT platform is fast becoming an area that needs attention if rights holders and traditional broadcasters are going to secure their future in broadcasting.
Using the right technology is an important tool in this process, especially as a means to grow and retain your audience.  OTT technologies fundamentally determine the user experience – an experience you want to make as streamlined and engaging as possible.


Over-the-top content refers to medias transmitted via the internet as a standalone product.  OTT technologies are delivering the power of TV with the agility and scale of the internet, and if harnessed they can grow international audiences incredibly quickly.

Defining your content strategy is the crucial first step before attempting to navigate the highly competitive OTT landscape.  The big decision in this respect is on where to build value – your own platform or social media.  Those who don’t want to pay to rent a room on Facebook, especially major sports rights holders with deep pockets, should consider a longer-term strategy of building self-owned platform value.

Sports have long been investing in OTT, Major League Baseball launched in 2003, offering a full season of streaming for $79.95 and signing up over 100,000 subscribers.  The National Football League introduced NFL Mobile Live in 2008 and NFL Now in 2014, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship launched its Fight Pass ervice in late 2013.  The English Football League is a recent addition to the trend, launching iFollow to maximise broadcast revenues from international audiences. Major organisations like these have the luxury of developing technologies that allow them to fully control the user experience, gather all user data and collect recurring revenue from the audience over time.

This luxury is afforded by already having a well-established audience.  Strong TV audiences provide the commercial viability needed to develop in the digital space.  For smaller rights holders, the trade-off of working and waiting for the growth of your own platform may be too great when there are technologies available that can facilitate instant returns in OTT.

UFC Fight Pass


For a relatively small investment, rights holders can broadcast their events for free on popular social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  These channels are not self-owned, so the autonomy that comes with owning your own platform is watered down.  You will not be able to gather all the data nor collect all the revenue.  However, the other advantages can make it all worth it.

The audience growth from live-streaming sports events on social media has been well reported.  For smaller rights holders, this should be encouraging.  Last year, Table Tennis England, despite having a modest 15k Facebook fans, achieved nearly 2.3m views for England’s European Championships home qualifying tie against Greece after securing a broadcast rights deal to stream it live via TheSPORTbible’s Facebook page – a first both for sports governing bodies in England and the digital publisher.

If rights holders are willing to surrender some control over broadcast rights and the user experience, then exposure can be maximised through social media.

The technologies that allow rights holders to transfer their broadcast to the digital space are growing.  Companies such as GrabyoTellyo  NeuLion, Oz and Livestream are a few that offer different OTT solutions, outcomes, levels of control, service levels and price points for rights holders.

LIVE: England vs Greece table tennis

Table Tennis England vs Greece – European Championships Qualification

Posted by SPORTbible on Tuesday, 1 November 2016


As well as acting as an effective middle man between sports rights holders and digital platforms, the companies mentioned above offer technologies with features that allow rights holders to share their event narrative with their digital audience.  An engaging event narrative is the last piece of the OTT puzzle that we’ll discuss in Part III.

REDTORCH have enjoyed great success with the live stream highlights editing feature of some of these technologies.  In a world-first for action sports (May 2016), REDTORCH streamed the FISE World Series via Facebook Live, achieving a 155% increase in organic reach for Live videos compared with other event-time video.  Live streams were supplemented with shareable clips edited and published in real time.

Snackable content is fast becoming a pillar of digital sports broadcasting, and these technologies can help cement it as part of your strategy.  The fact that younger audiences are more likely to watch highlights on Snapchat than they are full match on Sky Sports is telling – rights holders need to embrace a multi-platform approach and explore the OTT technologies available if they are to survive.


Sports consumption habits are changing,

Richard Broughton, Director at Ampere Analysis said “Younger consumers are turning off sport in favour of scripted and social video content including comedy, sci-fi, romance and action & adventure.  Clearly, a ‘one-size fits all’ content strategy will not last as a pan-generational plan.”

The beauty of OTT is the scalability it offers sports rights holders of all sizes.  Whether your strategy is built around growing value on self-owned, paid-for platforms, or increasing exposure with free OTT content via social media, there are technologies that can make both a resounding success.

If you’d like to learn more about growing and converting audiences for OTT solutions, please get in touch.