SVG Sports OTT Forum Spotlights How D2C Services, Broadcasters, and Leagues Are Navigating Changing Landscape

New technologies, opportunities, and challenges confront the sports-media industry

Over-the-top distribution and direct-to-consumer live-streaming packages are poised to dramatically change the world of live sports video. At the second-annual Sports OTT Forum on Thursday, more than 220 attendees from across the sports-media industry shared their unique challenges and opportunities and discussed the new technologies and business opportunities facing their organizations.

NBC Sports Digital’s Eric Black, who chaired the event, noted the growth in streaming services: “It’s a really exciting time to be in the space since things are evolving so rapidly.”

“This is our second OTT event,” said NBC Sports Digital CTO Eric Black, who was chairman of the event and serves as SVG Digital Advisory Chair, “and I’m really excited to see the big turnout and the growth in the industry. We’ve all seen the headlines and the changes in the industry recently, so it’s a really exciting time to be in the space since things are evolving so rapidly.”

The day-long event began with a panel discussion titled “Traditional Broadcasters in an Age of Streaming Growth” and featuring leaders from NBC Sports Digital, CBS Sports Digital, Fox (Sports, News, and Entertainment), and WSC Sports.

Later in the morning, BA Winston, global head of digital video playback and delivery, Amazon Prime Video, took part in an SVG Digital Keynote Conversation with SVG Director of Digital Brandon Costa. The two discussed the latest in live sports streaming at Amazon Prime Video, including the evolution of Amazon’s Thursday Night Football package over the past two years, the increase in live-sports properties in its portfolio (including NBA League Pass, MLB.TV, PGA TOUR, ATP Tour, Premier League, and, most recently, the French Open), creating personalized and alternative streaming-video experiences for fans, and what his team has learned since entering the live-sports-streaming business.

Amazon Prime Video’s BA Winston explained what his company has learned from a product and customer-experience perspective.

“From a product and customer-experience perspective, there are three main learnings,” said Winston. “No. 1 is that sports is clearly a significant driver to linear viewing worldwide. No. 2, with OTT, clearly, we are able to bring sports content to more customers on more devices … [which has] opened the door for more options for customers, and, therefore, customers engage with us on more devices. And third, [OTT] gives a great opportunity and platform for companies to innovate and bring interesting experiences at a faster pace to customers, which I think is going to be a great advantage for businesses like us.”

A panel of direct-to-consumer newcomers — DAZN, fuboTV, and FloSports — took the stage to discuss the challenges and opportunities of digital-native media entities, touching on their technical strategies and workflows.

Following lunch, leaders from Major League Lacrosse, NHL, and Octagon offered the league perspective and the global impact of OTT distribution on the U.S. sports business. Streaming protocols were up next, as representatives from NBC Sports Digital, IBM Aspera, and Limelight Networks explored CMAF, HLS, and DASH, including where they expect delivery backbones to go.

The day concluded with another technology-centric panel, this one focused on data visualization, user experience, and gaming. Key executives from Sportradar and Bleacher Report discussed their current work and offered tips for what makes a streaming experience truly special in today’s sports-media world.

A trio of case studies from Sony, Encompass Digital Media, and Zixi explored ad insertion for OTT, managing and monitoring next-gen streaming, and low-latency live-event contribution over IP networks, respectively.

The Sports OTT Forum was made possible through the support of the SVG Digital Advisory Committee; Title Sponsor AWS Elemental; Diamond Sponsors IBM Aspera and Limelight Networks; and Event Sponsors Encompass Digital Media, Signiant, Sony, Sportradar, Verizon Media, and Zixi.

Stay tuned to www.sportsvideo.org for more coverage from the Sports OTT Forum!