June 23, 2024

Innovation & Tech Today

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New Innovations for Super Bowl Sunday Live Streaming

Super Bowl LVIII is happening this Sunday and live-streaming challenges have been a main concern for many avid viewers.

Several years ago, when consumers started cutting the cord en masse, the potential innovation within the digital experience seemed unlimited. The reality is that many current streaming services, such as Peacock and Paramount+, are simulcasting most of their sports content to satisfy their linear and streaming audience segments instead of innovating to drive new subscribers. As subscription costs creep up month after month, the consumer experience is dwindling. 

The current technology falls short of delivering an engaging fan experience during large events such as the Super Bowl. The tech also fails to boost the bottom-line of streaming providers through additional revenue beyond the monthly subscription fee. There are few interactive features to cater to the younger demos- thus, they deliver the same lean-back experience consumers can find on linear broadcasts.  

As we have seen during this NFL season, Peacock paid handsomely for the rights to stream a playoff game exclusively on their platform. The ability to generate new customers – by most estimates, Peacock gained 2.8 million new subscribers – by dangling a live sporting event only available on one streaming platform seems like the only way to encourage (even begrudgingly) new subscriptions and increased revenues. But that model cannot survive long term. 

The Future of Live Event Streaming

There’s another way. If you want to compete and get ahead of the competition, then real-time live streaming is the future. Only when this happens can platforms deliver an interactive experience that engages fans through text, chat, social media, trivia, games, and more while watching live events. Despite strides in innovation and a clear desire in the sports fandom, this isn’t a common practice yet. 

Push notifications across various platforms deliver more real-time updates- many times before the stream has caught up to the action. Live sporting events must start with a video-first audience engagement strategy, approaching the event itself and the entire experience in real-time.

Bottom line: If Fan A and Fan B are watching two different games 45+ seconds apart, the experience is anything but desirable. Frustrating delays on various platforms create a disjointed viewing experience and push potential revenue further away. This can be especially damaging during the NFL Super Bowl.

Streaming technology will not drive the bottom line for platforms to become profitable. But consider this: as more consumers opt for streaming live sports, with the majority of viewers simultaneously interacting on some form of social engagement platform – text, social media, chat, watch party, multi-angle – the technology will become more of a defining characteristic of these platforms and perhaps, a way to separate themselves from the linear broadcast even further. 

Innovation Is Critical

Technology like Server-Side Ad Insertion (SSAI) and Digital Rights Management (DRM) are not only crucial to drive revenue, but they are also the only way to engage (and ultimately retain) customers. Delivering live events such as the Super Bowl game in real-time with synchronized playback in less than a second from the field of play to any device worldwide at scale can support broadcasters and networks in a very saturated market and sets them apart in the consumer’s eye. 

Innovation like real-time SSAI, an industry first, allows platforms to insert ads during the game in real-time without sacrificing stream quality or latency. The future for advertisers and networks to be able to not only provide a better experience for fans but ultimately continue driving revenue is the only way they can survive. More and more streaming providers are adding an ad tier, with Prime Video just the latest to do so, and there could be a time when all of these services move to ad-only. The pushback from consumers to the number of subscriptions they are paying is only getting worse. 

The Tipping Point

Last year, fans experienced delays of an average of 54 seconds across streaming platforms during the 2023 Super Bowl. What’s worse, some of the delays were over 20 seconds worse than in 2022. Unfortunately, this year’s game is unlikely to be any better.

Streaming platforms are at a tipping point – they are losing money and not gaining subscribers at the rates they expected. Exclusive content like sports rights and bundling with other services help differentiate, but they come with hefty price tags. The key to winning the streaming wars is to keep viewers engaged through interactive features to avoid churn and maximize revenue by adding real-time SSAI. To do this properly, the technology employed must be in real-time and in sync so everyone can engage at the same time. 

Picture of By Jed Corenthal

By Jed Corenthal

Jed Corenthal is Chief Marketing and Development Officer at Phenix Real Time Solutions, Inc. a cutting-edge streaming video technology company designed to drive interactivity by eliminating latency and synchronizing streams across all devices. In his role, he launched Phenix’s sports betting business in 2018, which has generated several million dollars to date. Prior to Phenix, he was responsible for building the NFL brand strategy and managing the annual NFL media budget of $200m. For more information, visit https://phenixrts.com

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