Op-Ed: Cloud Services Poised to Drive the Sports Consumption Revolution

Consumers want more from their favorite sports. Solely broadcasting linear, live footage might have satisfied consumers in the past, but times are changing. Production teams need to capture a growing volume of content which can be deployed in different formats, for different channels, and on different devices. The challenge now is: how can all of the content, beginning with acquisition and then all the way through the creation and distribution chain, be managed efficiently?

Nick Pierce, Object Matrix, co-founder

Fans are driving huge changes in viewing that will continue to shape the sports broadcasting industry for years to come. A Nielsen Sports report commented on this consumption evolution – “The sports industry continues to adapt to the new habits fans have developed over the last two years, with the pace of change accelerating substantially since the start of the pandemic in 2020. This is evidenced by the increasingly flexible and dynamic approaches to competition formats, fan engagement, and content distribution by the world’s biggest sports properties.”

Behind the scenes, managing a large number of assets has its challenges. Production companies are responsible for ensuring that high-value content can be accessed when needed, without compromising on security. There are many factors to consider when managing valuable sports content, including keeping various technical partners aligned, ensuring content is protected, and guaranteeing that viewers are satisfied.

Collaboration across Continents

Today, the sports production process rarely happens in one place. Production partners no longer need to be on-location to leverage exciting live action. Traditionally, large volumes of content were stored on tape before being transported back to the editing hub. But in the age of the cloud, raw footage is available instantly and is easily accessible for editing teams and partners regardless of where they are based. This allows content to be prepared for distribution and deployed almost immediately, resulting in a much more efficient use of resources.

Whisper Cymru leveraged the cloud to make content of British and Irish Lions activities available to content creators afar.

As production partner for the British and Irish Lions, Whisper Cymru, a UK-based production, post, and broadcast specialist, needed to ensure footage captured in the Southern Hemisphere was available immediately to its editing and post-production teams back in the UK. This instant collaboration meant the footage could be prepared and deployed to rugby fans with minimal delay. Sport is a global passion, and so the technology leveraged to share it, should be set up to distribute globally with ease.

An Immersive Experience

When fans can’t attend sports events in-person, they need alternative ways to feel part of the action. From the pre-game build up, to behind-the-scenes details and post-match analysis and interviews, viewers want a fully immersive experience that can mimic the feeling of being at a live event. To satisfy their needs, fans will turn to different devices and platforms to consume various types of content, both longform and bite-sized, and that makes them feel close to their favorite players.

Carys Owens, managing director at Whisper Cymru highlighted the importance of bringing the live action to rugby fans at home:“When the option of attending live matches is taken away, the value of digital content grows exponentially. Providing immersive digital content to rugby fans offers new opportunities for engagement.”

This is an important consideration for production partners; not only does it lead to better engagement with sports fans, but it also results in new opportunities for monetization for content owners. Despite the majority of US fans still consuming sport via live TV, the number of viewers watching on via streaming platforms and mobile apps is rising. With growing subscriber numbers, comes more profitability, and for production partners, sports OTT platforms bring new revenue options.

Security from any Location

Although the expectations of the viewers and the ability to collaborate instantly are vital considerations, ensuring that footage is protected, is one of the highest priorities. Ensuring only those authorized to access the content can do so, reduces the threat of lost assets and data breaches. When deploying cloud storage, sport production partners need the highest levels of Digital Content Governance (DCG) and strict access controls, ensuring content is protected from any unapproved access requests.

For Whisper Cymru, the cloud provided an extra level of protection. In addition to storing rugby footage on tape, it was backed up in the cloud, giving them and their production partners the confidence that the valuable assets were protected against instances of disaster. Owens adds that despite the teams being located in various regions, having the option to store and manage all the content in the cloud meant that not only were workflows enhanced, but all assets were safeguarded against any unauthorized access or security threats.

A Bright Future for Fans

The right cloud storage delivers financial and operational benefits, from monetization opportunities to business continuity. It will play a crucial role in the sports content consumption revolution. When high-value sports content is stored in the cloud, it can be easily archived and retrieved for future use, as and when needed. Production and editing teams remain connected, even when working from different locations and games can be maximized wherever they are played.

With the cloud’s scalability, sports content providers can be prepared for whatever the future brings. Inspiring consumers with more content choice, and offering a more immersive experience that will nurture the next generation of fans.

Editor’s note: Object Matrix has been acquired by DataCore

Password must contain the following:

A lowercase letter

A capital (uppercase) letter

A number

Minimum 8 characters