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MediaKind Report Studies Evolution of Sports in D2C Streaming

Soccer on TV
(Image credit: Future)

FRISCO, Texas—While sports remain one of the biggest content draws for broadcast, it is not immune to growing trends regarding direct to consumer (D2C) OTT platforms, as shown in a new MediaKind report.

The MediaKind 2021 Sports D2C Forecast shows that most of the 40 rights-holders analyzed, while still viewing D2C platforms as complementary to broadcast coverage, consider it an essential part of their future distribution strategy for live sports and connecting with fans. Almost three-quarters of the rights-holders already offer some form of D2C service to their fans through subscription packages.

Among those that have a D2C offering, half use it as a supplementary content hub, focusing on delivering high-quality video. The other half attempts to make use of OTT’s interactive possibilities, embedding fan engagement features into the services.

To distribute these D2C services, 58% have a standalone D2C web domain, while the other 42% provide D2C services via a sub-domain of their main website. A little more than a third of rights-holders offer D2C services through a standalone mobile app, per MediaKind.

One area the MediaKind report shows that rights-holders can improve on is monetization tools for the D2C services. None of the analyzed rights-holders featured an integrated betting service, while other monetizing services like ticketing (3% of rights-holders have), merchandising (5%) and advertising (8%) are rare.

An area of concern found in the report is how the future of these streaming services will stand-up when dealing with a high volume of concurrent live streams.

"The results of our study are clear—rights-holders cannot afford to be without a D2C service moving forward,” said Raul Aldrey, chief product officer, MediaKind. “All 40 of the rights-holders have recognized how D2C services offer crucial, data-driven touchpoints with their fans and provide unique opportunities to enhance fan engagement and tap into new monetization streams. But the performance of these D2C platforms remains table-stakes and fundamental to attracting and retaining audiences long-term. Future D2C services must guarantee stability at scale, and the overall delivery must be at least as good as the broadcast-quality linear services that sports fans have been accustomed to and enjoyed for decades.

"Streaming is a major part of sports media, with internet-based delivery now very much the present, as well as the future of media content distribution. The growing ubiquity of D2C platforms means they now form an essential part of any strategy for live sport – regardless of whether they are a complementary service to broadcast coverage or the primary means of distribution. While current D2C services are largely representative of an emerging market, this sector is ripe for experimentation, exploration, trial and error, innovation, creativity, and risk-taking—with big rewards for those that get it right."

The full MediaKind 2021 Sports D2C Forecast is available online.