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Summit Preview: Bringing Live Sports Streaming to More Viewers With Cloud and SaaS

football
(Image credit: Harmonic)

The following op-ed is a preview of topics that Harmonic will discuss during the upcoming TV Tech Summit, March 31.

With so many showpiece sports events happening in 2022, video service providers have an opportunity to expand their streaming services around these highly anticipated occasions.

When it comes to streaming live sports, service providers are looking to grow their audiences and offer them the content they desire. Yet, to be successful, service providers need an infrastructure that can maintain outstanding quality and ensure reliable streaming at scale.

By adopting an end-to-end, cloud-based streaming platform, they can process content with increased efficiency, customize live and video-on-demand (VOD) programming, and increase their ROI beyond typical subscription-based models.

Adapting to the Evolution in Video Consumption 
Video consumption is evolving. Today’s viewers want personalized streaming experiences, and an increasing number of rights holders and content distributors are responding with direct-to-consumer (DTC) offerings. In the sports streaming market, there are a variety of DTC streaming platforms and services from sports clubs, leagues and governing bodies, media organizations, telco operators, and more.

Another major trend in the U.S. is skinny bundles, a slimmed-down version of traditional pay-TV television offerings. Skinny bundles often include many of the linear specialty channels that viewers love, such as ESPN, further fragmenting the sports rights marketplace.

As sports consumption shifts away from broadcast TV toward streaming there are abundant new opportunities to reach broader audiences.

Key Streaming Requirements 
One of the greatest advantages of video streaming is the ability to create digital experiences that cater to individual viewers. Personalized sports content is in high demand. A recent survey from Quantum Market Research found that 96% of British soccer fans are willing to pay more for a subscription streaming service that provides a personalized experience. 

Aside from personalization, delivering an exceptional quality of service is critical. Today’s consumers expect high-quality streaming services that are accessible anytime, anywhere and on any device, with low latency, a mixture of live and VOD content, interactive features, and flexible pricing.

Simplifying Sports Streaming With an End-to-End Cloud Solution
By deploying an end-to-end, cloud-based streaming platform service providers can simplify all stages of media processing and delivery, ensure exceptional-quality video experiences and stay competitive in an increasingly crowded sports streaming market. 

Cloud streaming platforms accelerate the time-to-market for new offerings, enabling D2C services to be launched in a matter of days. With a cloud platform, service providers can spin up and spin down operations as needed, without investing in hardware infrastructure. This aspect is especially beneficial for the sports streaming industry, as events might only last a day or two.

Managing the peak user demand while streaming live sports can be a challenge. Live streaming requires an ultra-robust and flexible operational workflow, and that’s where cloud-based streaming platforms greatly excel. As audience numbers fluctuate throughout live events, cloud platforms enable service providers to stream video at scale and deliver superior quality, including low latency.

SaaS platforms are based on a per-per-use business model that is cost-efficient for sports streaming. With a SaaS platform, the installation and maintenance costs that are typically involved with operating hardware infrastructure are greatly reduced.

Optimizing Resources and ROI With Cloud-Based Streaming 
Using the cloud for sports streaming, service providers can optimize resources, reduce costs and generate new revenue.

For instance, cloud-based streaming opens up the opportunity for ad-supported thematic streaming channels whereby viewers receive content based on their individual preferences. Through user data, service providers can offer targeted advertising and branded content based on viewing behavior and interests.

In addition, cloud streaming platforms can be used to convert live video into on-demand content for pay-per-view (PPV) or distribution to third-party broadcasters after the event is over, opening up another revenue source.

Having a cloud streaming platform with efficient video compression is important, as it allows for more users to stream video at a higher quality. Efficient video compression also reduces costs associated with the delivery of video to expanding audiences.

Cloud-based streaming is reliable and secure. With the cloud, service providers can reduce the  likelihood of a security breach and operational downtime, which is critical for maintaining viewer satisfaction during live events.

Unifying the Value Chain with SaaS and Cloud
Another benefit of adopting cloud-based SaaS for video streaming is that it unifies delivery to affiliates and distribution partners. With a cloud-based delivery model, rights holders can distribute content in overseas markets, increasing their reach and meeting increased demands for content without worrying about how to scale.

Conclusion
Live sports streaming is on an accelerated path for growth. During the pandemic, the demand for live streamed sports has reached record levels, especially as fans were kept away from stadiums. Service providers are now looking to capitalize on this trend and want to expand their subscriber numbers and address broader audiences. Live streamed sports offers a catalyst to make this happen. 

With SaaS solutions, such as Harmonic’s VOS360 cloud streaming platform, video service providers can simplify the delivery of live sports streaming services and drive new revenue. 

To register for the TV Tech Summit, visit tvtechsummit.com/march

Alain Pellen
Alain Pellen

Alain Pellen is Senior Market Manager, OTT and IPTV, at Harmonic.