Best practices for feed decorating in live sports

January 12, 2024

Live sports distribution is an industry in flux. Sports rights are becoming fragmented, and content is increasingly moving to streaming services. Viewers are demanding more ways to watch and more personalized content, and rights holders, broadcasters, and advertisers are scrambling to get on board. As you investigate the best ways to monetize your content, it's smart to keep feed decorating and graphic overlays top of mind.

What is feed decorating?

Feed decorating is the process of enriching video streams with additional visual and audio elements. It can include behind-the-scenes elements like metadata, which allows for the insertion of dynamic ad signals that help maximize downstream revenue. With the right technology, it can even include the addition of captioning and live announcers in the local language. But one of the most important elements of feed decorating may be video graphic overlays.

What are graphic overlays in live sports?

Graphic overlays are visual elements that are superimposed onto the live broadcast of a sporting event. They’re added as a part of feed decorating and enhance the viewer experience by providing context, analysis, and additional information that complements the action on the field. Here are a few different ways to decorate a feed with graphic overlays.

Game information

Most live sports broadcasts will include a scoreboard showing the names and scores of both teams and a game clock showing the time remaining in the quarter, half, or match, if applicable. Most broadcasts today also include graphic overlays when penalties, challenges, or reviews happen. Graphic overlays can also include custom branding to tailor to the platform, rights holder, or league’s needs.

Player and team statistics

Graphic overlays often showcase individual player statistics such as points scored, assists, rebounds, or other relevant metrics. This information keeps viewers engaged and helps them track the performance of specific players. Additional graphics may be used to show team logos, conference standings, or other relevant information.

In-game statistics

Custom graphic overlays can also show real-time statistics as they happen in the game, such as team shooting percentages, turnovers, shots on goal, and other key metrics. These stats provide insights into each team’s overall performance. They’re also used during replays to highlight specific moments or players.

Advertisements and sponsorships

Feed decorating wouldn’t be complete without advertising. These graphics include sponsored elements, such as logos, banners, or animations, and can even be in 3D. Modern technology can dynamically insert customized ads into a live feed or digitally replace the logos and ads you see on the field or boards.

Best practices for feed decorating with graphic overlays

Broadcasters and advertisers have more options for video graphic overlays than ever before. But before you jump in head-first, make sure you're following these best practices for feed decoration.

Consider smaller screens

Modern viewers no longer watch sports on the TV alone. They could be watching from a smartphone, tablet, or even multiple screens at once. Make sure that all text and graphics are clear and easy to read, even on smaller screens, and always choose contrasting color combinations that enhance visibility.

On any size screen, avoid cluttering the screen with too many graphic overlays that distract from the live action. No one wants to miss the game-winning goal because it was overshadowed by a player statistic — or worse, an advertisement.

Make it engaging

The future of live sports distribution is interactive, and feed decorating technology can enhance every aspect of an event. When showing instant replays, you can use dynamic graphics like arrows, circles, or other visual aids to highlight key moments or players. You can overlay virtual graphics onto the field, create 3D visualizations, and integrate interactive elements. Polls, quizzes, and social media interactions increase engagement and enhance the overall viewer experience.

Fully leverage metadata

Don’t forget the backend: the live versioning metadata that underpins all of your video content provides the foundation for feed decoration. You can use enhanced metadata signaling to indicate a commercial break, the beginning of an intermission or replay, or when to overlay a banner ad or interactive element. It also helps ad splicers make better decisions about which ads to show and when. You can even automate and clip live and VOD content to enhance the consumer experience.

Improve your infrastructure

Before you can apply custom graphic overlays you need to be able to ingest the live content at scale and centralize your feeds. And once you have your customized versions, you need to be able to distribute them to any screen, anywhere in the world, catering to compliance regulations, video frame rates, and bitrates for multiple markets.

The transport infrastructure required to do this requires heavy CapEx investment that poses a challenge for many organizations. But there’s no reason to be overwhelmed — a service like LTN Arc can help.

Decorate more feeds with LTN Arc

LTN Arc is a live sports production and distribution solution that can ingest, aggregate, decorate, and distribute hundreds of live event feeds at once. Our proprietary technology automates feed decorating, including custom graphic overlays, highlight reels, and active video clipping. It also goes beyond live sports graphic application to include watermarking, captioning, ad enablement, audio insertion, and more.

As a fully managed service, LTN Arc centralizes feeds to our always-on technical operations center (TOC), where our experts oversee all aspects of feed decoration. At the same time, our proprietary technology automates many processes, allowing a single operator to decorate four times more feeds than traditional outsourced production services.

With LTN Arc, feed decorating is more efficient and scalable than ever. If you're ready to create hyper-localized, platform-specific versions of live events that help you drive revenue, contact us for a demo today.