Betting on an IP-first future to win the sports game in 2023

December 15, 2022 by Brad Wall, CTO

The sports broadcasting industry is showing its transformation and innovation potential, driven by ever-changing consumer behaviors, a growing appetite for live sports content, and the dominance of OTT digital platforms. A key shift in the sports broadcasting landscape is fragmentation. Increased competition for sports rights means new market entrants, such as OTT players and tech giants claiming a piece of the live sports broadcasting pie. These entrants have created a new, more complex streaming landscape. Rights owners need innovative ways to efficiently scale their live video distribution models to reach viewers across a greater array of digital platforms and devices. Despite increased complexity, content providers in the sports game have limitless opportunities at their fingertips. With an IP-first approach and the help of the LTN Ecosystem, it’s all up for grabs in 2023.

A new era of sports streaming

Until recently, the sports rights landscape was a lot more straightforward, with major broadcasters owning rights to nearly every major league: one media company would acquire basketball rights, then another company opted for soccer rights. However, increasing demands for digital consumption have caused more market complexity and altered the status quo. Today, rightsholders are striving to maximize their revenue streams by fragmenting their distribution models across digital platforms and increasingly, direct-to-consumer offerings. 2023 is only the tip of the iceberg; with many freshly signed multi-year rights deals in place, this trend is only set to grow.

These fundamental changes in sports broadcasting business models are impacting consumers. Global audiences need to adjust their subscription patterns to access various platforms in order to watch their favorite live sports content. For example, premium sports has shifted from traditional broadcast television through hybrid broadcast/over-the-top (OTT) models, to live sports being made available solely via streaming, such as Amazon Prime’s NFL Thursday Night Football or their exclusive Premier League games. Consumers must become digitally savvy to engage with content across new digital media applications and devices. At the same time, media organizations and rights holders need to enhance both education and marketing efforts to ensure all fans have seamless access to content and avoid isolating traditional linear audiences.

A connected world

Delivering high value content around the world requires a robust and agile video transport infrastructure. When it comes to live sports, achieving low latency is mission-critical. Ultra-reliable, low-latency IP-based transport is at the core of LTN’s DNA — our industry-leading proprietary network, LTN Transport, empowers media companies to maximize scale and reach new platforms and audiences internationally. Increased reach and global market penetration enables sports leagues to tap into new global fanbases and grow their brand value.

To meet the growing global demands on live sports and the explosion of distribution channels with diverse requirements, content customization is key. Through IP-powered transport and content versioning technology, rights holders can bring culturally relevant and engaging content experiences to diverse international audiences, breaking down geographical borders that were held back by legacy technology. For example, soccer fans in Latin America may previously have been unable to watch their favorite European teams through traditional satellite/cable infrastructure. Enter LTN Arc, a one-of-a-kind and fully managed production service that enables rights holders to customize centralized feeds into tailored streams for worldwide cross-platform distribution, simplifying live event versioning at scale for digital audiences and maximizing the value of live sports assets. Now, content providers can reach global viewers across OTT and FAST platforms with tailored experiences by bringing in remote announcers and even custom graphics in the local language.

Digital innovation opens the door to new monetization opportunities

While broadcasters are moving fast to extend live sports distribution and ramp up viewership across new digital platforms, boosting monetization through advanced advertising capabilities remains a slow-moving challenge. Tying together disparate traditional advertising systems and workflows while driving seamless integration between technology providers is a complex hurdle to overcome. Media companies are on the lookout for digital pioneers, both internally and externally, to simplify a chaotic and siloed ecosystem while simultaneously capturing game-changing revenue opportunities across traditional and OTT distribution channels. Underpinned by intelligent IP transport and automation workflows, universal ad signaling solutions such as LTN Target are helping unify fragmented technologies and methodologies, empowering dynamic ad insertion and powering the seamless rollout of linear addressable advertising across platforms.

Data to drive cutting-edge experiences

Fueled by metadata advances, consumer expectations are evolving at breakneck speed. Cloud-based technologies and low latency video transport empower content providers to deliver data-rich live sports coverage, including immersive real-time graphics, replay features, and greater interactivity, delivering truly compelling sports experiences. As pioneering technologies and a hunger for experimentation re-shapes live sports consumption, rightsholders and broadcasters need rock-solid technology partners with future-proof infrastructure to power creative roadmaps and business growth.

As 2023 draws near, the sports broadcasting industry is booming with innovation and opportunity. To set up for success and overcome complexity that slows down digital transformation, media organizations must adopt an IP-first approach to maximize the output and value of high value content. Leveraging the power of IP to scale premium content to global audiences opens the door to further digital monetization, and helps deliver exceptional viewing experiences beyond the limits of any device, platform, or geography.