Monetizing the Moments That Define Sports: College Football and the NFL Draft
An active archive enables content to be preserved and accessed forever
Sports leagues, conferences, and broadcasters own the rights to a dizzying amount of high-value content: content from events that can never be re-created, content that isn’t available anywhere else. In the past, most sports-rights holders would capture an event and pass it through a playout workflow, then send the recorded media to an archive, where it would languish. That’s because most media archives were passive by nature, intended mainly to preserve and protect the content and not to make it dynamic and accessible for further use.
These days, that scenario is changing. There are plenty of ways to repurpose — and profit from — the content in a sports archive. Preservation is still as important as ever, but archives are increasingly taking on another role as a destination for licensing, reselling, and distributing assets to third parties willing to pay for them — from advertising agencies to fellow broadcasters to filmmakers and beyond.
For example, broadcast partners might want to push clips of key moments to social media right after they happen. Or, to promote the next big match-up, they might want to drive fan engagement through microsites full of highlights and behind-the-scenes material drawn from the archive. Meanwhile, advertising agencies could use iconic moments in a campaign, or documentarians could add historic footage to a film.
To make it happen, you and your stakeholders need to be able to find and access compelling moments quickly. That’s where active archives come in.
Unlike passive archives, which tend to be the end of a one-way trip for your media, active archives are dynamic and have a revolving door. Content can flow in and out of them as needed, making them ideal for monetization. When coupled with the rich metadata that comes from a content-management system built for monetization, an active archive enables quick and easy location, rapid packaging, and near-live distribution of content to the right place in the right format. And instead of being captured and used once, content is captured once and used infinitely.
Any sports-rights holder can benefit from an active archive. Gone are the days of digging through shelves full of LTO tapes or searching a rudimentary database to find the content people want to buy, then copying and distributing it the old-fashioned way. Instead, your active-archive monetization media-asset management (MAM) system can do a good portion of the work and generate the revenue.
What You Need to Know
Archiving for monetization requires a content strategy that goes beyond linear and immediate airtime to selling and distribution. When you consider the evolution in the way people consume sports media (the decline of over-the-air, the rise of OTT, and, significantly, the ability to view highlights via social media), a thoughtful content strategy becomes more important than ever.
In the best scenario, an active archive goes hand in hand with a cloud-native content-management and -monetization platform that generates rich metadata from the content itself. In the cloud, your assets are more easily searchable and distributable according to strict security policies. And, because of abundant metadata, otherwise stagnant or lost assets are available for sale.
It also pays to have a MAM partner with expertise in managing and licensing sports content, someone who can advise and protect you as a rightsholder but also create a workflow that includes finding and tagging assets, creating clips, and making those clips accessible to third parties.
Supplying Clips for the NFL Draft
How this concept works in the real world is demonstrated by college football and the NFL Draft.
Wazee Digital manages the archive for the NCAA, College Football Playoff, and major college conferences, such as Big Ten and Pac-12. Throughout each college football season, Wazee Digital Core, an enterprise software-as-a-service platform built specifically for the cloud, ingests clean-feed footage from the various games. As a result, Core contains more than 28,000 college-football videos amounting to more than 114,000 minutes of video — and counting.
Because Wazee Digital has the licensing rights to resell footage on behalf of those conferences, the NFL Network commissioned the company to collect video clips in order to create shoulder programming for the 2016 NFL Draft.
Around the start of the 2015 college season, the NFL Network sent Wazee Digital a list of about 450 draft-eligible players for researchers to focus on throughout the season. The researchers are skilled at identifying just the right clips and are also rights-and-clearances veterans.
Armed with the list, researchers scrubbed each melt for applicable highlights of each prospect, set in and out points, and tagged each clip with descriptive metadata — player’s name, school, age, and position; the move that happens (sack, touchdown throw, reception, etc.); and the game date and opponent — to further distinguish the clip during curation. Each prospect had his own collection of highlights in a designated bin inside Core.
The NFL Network had access to the bins in order to review and approve the clips for delivery, working with researchers to refine the selection when necessary. When curation was complete, researchers used Core to push the chosen clips to the NFL Network’s Signiant folder, from which NFL Network producers could download the assets and begin their own workflows.
In the end, Wazee Digital conducted approximately 10,000 hours of custom research to locate each prospect’s most captivating career highlights, creating roughly 11,000 clips in a labor-intensive process that took about six months. The project allowed NFL Network to create promos and features specific to each prospect and broadcast them before, during, and after the Draft. For example, when an athlete was selected, the network played his highlight reel to 3 million viewers and sports enthusiasts who tuned in over the course of the three-day broadcast.
At the same time, the NFL Network can call on Wazee Digital to license content from the highly curated set of clips it commissioned, delivering clips to network affiliates or franchisees for further use.
In addition, because the clips are searchable in the archive, Wazee Digital can immediately license, deliver, and monetize those moments from an athlete’s career for use in documentary, entertainment, and advertising spots, thereby continuing to generate revenue for the Big Ten, Pac-12, and others. An example would be when major sports broadcasters and news outlets wish to highlight the top-10 draft picks in their coverage.
The Benefit for Owners of Sports Content
The NFL Draft project and the general notion of pairing an active archive with a cloud-enabled monetization platform have significant implications for those involved in sports media or production. Major advances in workflow, metadata, and content in the cloud allow nimble and reasonably rapid recall of particular content related to a particular athlete — more specifically, a highlight-worthy moment ripe for reuse.
After all, moments are what define sports. They make the programming valuable to advertisers, properties, and networks. And, because they are unscripted and irreplaceable, the ability to capture, catalog, and access them over a life cycle that can span decades is invaluable to rightsholders.
For those reasons, sports-rights holders would do well to leverage a cloud-based platform tied to an active archive and supported by researchers who are experts in both sports and monetization. Such a solution can be the key that unlocks an infinite source of revenue.