Streaming-Tech Vendor Vindral: ‘The Time for Synchronized Sports Streaming Is Now’

Sports betting, social-media interactivity drive the business case

Sports broadcasters and viewers exist in a time when live sports are delivered over more distribution paths on more platforms than ever. While that has offered more business opportunities and customer choice, it has led to a Wild West of video quality and, perhaps more critical, synchronization time across the entire ecosystem.

In this exploding era of sports betting in the U.S., content owners and professional sports leagues are well aware that loose latency and synchronization leaves money on the table.

One technology leader in providing quality live sports video and low latency in sync with the action on the field is Swedish vendor Vindral. Established as a SaaS and OEM streaming engine, its technology allows clients to send a stream for which it manages transcoding and distribution.

“For sports, we say it offers the best seat in the house,” Vindral CEO Daniel Alinder said in an interview during the SVG Summit in December. “It’s about latency control, synchronization, and high quality at the same time. Those three things are very important for sports.”

Vindral’s Daniel Alinder: “One of the things low-latency providers struggle with is maintaining high quality.”

Whether the audience is participating in an interactive experience, betting during play, or connecting through social-media platforms as a second screen, lack of synchronization is a source of frustration. But it also represents both a key business opportunity and a priority for technology developers for these various live platforms.

“It’s quite important to have quality and low latency when it comes to sports,” says Per Mafrost, CTO, RealSprint | Vindral. “For instance, larger betting windows equal more money. It’s not a bit more; it’s a lot more money. Larger betting windows translate to higher confidence; you get more bets. When it comes to sports in general, you want to have a synchronized experience with the viewers onsite and those at home.”

According to Vindral, synchronized live sports-video content translates to fairness in betting and cohesiveness in interactive and social-media experiences. Sports is one of the unique M&E categories in which immediacy is non-negotiable: the unfiltered, real-time, unedited product is the last form of media that audiences tune in to watch live in mass numbers.

The issue of sync remains generally unresolved even in 2024 because it poses a massive logistical challenge given the diverse geographic locations, various internet speeds, and multitude of platforms and devices used for streaming. Plus, supporting simultaneous streaming with a scaled-up audience is extremely difficult technologically.

“There are a lot of low-latency providers,” notes Alinder, “but one of the things they struggle with is maintaining high quality. For a hard-core fan of any sport, quality is super important. For people [streaming] their favorite content for many hours on 77-in., 85 in. [screens], having the lower quality is not a great experience.”

RealSprint | Vindral’s Per Mafrost: “When it comes to sports in general, you want to have a synchronized experience with the viewers onsite and those at home.”

These days, the growth of 5G technology, advances in edge computing, and innovative streaming algorithms fuel optimism for a more synchronized live-sports-streaming ecosystem. Vindral’s approach to live-streaming technology could bridge the gap, emphasizing ultra-low latency and synchronized playout, for clients requiring both synchronization and high video quality simultaneously.

Then there’s the business catalyst of sports betting. With sports broadcasters in the U.S. directly partnering with betting companies and even, in some cases, running their own betting operations, synchronized streaming is necessary not only to support existing gambling models but to expand into the seemingly infinite world of in-game betting: in which fans can bet on both individual plays and final outcomes.

“[In-game betting] is upcoming,” says Mafrost, who has been with Vindral since 2015. “We see that from a lot of customers. Even if they don’t have it right now, they’re working on adding in-game betting for those kinds of in-play events to their product.”

For Vindral, lack of synchronization does more than impede enjoyment of the game; it has financial implications. Synchronized streaming is essential to the integrity and viability of sports betting.

On the social side, synchronized streaming enables a far better interactive and conversational second-screen experience. Live tweeting, social-media commentary, and online discussion can drive viewership and the deeper engagement vital to the modern sports-viewing experience.

Low latency and high quality represent the north star that Vindral follows each day in making each the expected norm.

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