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Rethinking monetization: How Tier 2 sports leagues can stop leaving money on the table

October 14, 2021 by Colin Moran, VP of Product Management
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Content monetization is a key revenue stream for major sports leagues that many Tier 2 leagues aren’t fully accessing. The NFL, for example, will earn around $9 billion a year through various rights deals with Amazon and networks. But monetization doesn’t end there, with the NFL turning its content into a revenue engine across platforms beyond traditional networks. The NFL Game Pass, their direct-to-consumer experience, delivers additional content and engagement opportunities through dual or quad views, different camera angles, and games condensed into 30-minute videos. In addition, the NFL provides digital video content for platforms like Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, and Twitch.

Without big-league resources, Tier 2 leagues haven’t been able to jump on the same opportunities. But advances in cloud technology and automation have made monetizing content less technical and more affordable.

Whether starting with smaller, easier opportunities or expanding into advanced monetization tactics, professional sports leagues and teams can now take more control of their content revenue.

...advances in cloud technology and automation have made monetizing content less technical and more affordable.

What’s holding professional and semi-pro leagues back?

Strained budgets and long seasons make it difficult for leagues and teams to prioritize investing in new technologies and workflows that can enable advanced content revenue opportunities. Tier 2 sports leagues often hand over content rights over to broadcasters so they don’t have to manage the content lifecycle, from production to distribution and monetization. But that means they’re missing out on revenue opportunities such as advanced advertising and selling the content owners’ dedicated ad allotment in broadcasts.

Many league managers don’t realize content distribution and monetization are simpler and more cost-effective now. Innovations in multicast media transmission may change how sports leagues think about scaling their content distribution across digital platforms, and next-gen ad signaling solutions make it easier to capitalize on advertising opportunities across TV and digital platforms.

Sports league managers may think the broadcasting workflows are complicated and cost-prohibitive, or require staff with specific technical expertise. The great news is cloud and IP technologies have made this simpler and more affordable.

Sports league managers may think the broadcasting workflows are complicated and cost-prohibitive, or require staff with specific technical expertise. The great news is cloud and IP technologies have made this simpler and more affordable.

Unleashing multiplatform monetization

Sports content consumption is becoming increasingly digital, with the number of US digital live sports viewers expected to exceed 90 million in 2025. While major leagues are either contemplating or have already jumped on the direct-to-consumer train, most smaller organizations have yet to test these models.

Digital platforms, including social media, proprietary streaming apps, and FAST channels allow more control over content distribution and monetization — and offer new revenue opportunities. The next step is monetizing second-screen experiences to maximize personalization and fan engagement. Tailoring content from secondary live feeds, personalizing premium behind-the-scenes clips, or offering interactive match highlights present ideal opportunities for monetization.

Digital platforms, including social media, proprietary streaming apps, and FAST channels allow more control over content distribution and monetization — and offer new revenue opportunities
Monetization

Enabling content monetization across the board

What about sports leagues that don’t know where to start? Or those testing the waters by launching on certain digital platforms? For them, flexibility is key. Sports leagues can begin with their “known knowns” and explore ways to monetize their content where it makes the most sense. To achieve this, they can use an IP-based multicast transmission network. So far, sports industry players have been trapped in a unicast network mentality, distributing content from point to point and limiting the scalability — and subsequently the monetization — of their content distribution.

A multicast network enables content owners to get their feeds to multiple locations or get multiple feeds from different locations with less hardware while using existing encoding protocols (e.g., SRT, RTPM, HLS, etc.) to gain access to the network. They can also benefit from quick workflow spin-up, which is critical given that Tier 2 sports leagues tend to have long seasons and limited downtime.

Once content owners get their content to digital platforms, they can monetize it in different ways. For example, dynamic ad insertion enables leagues to charge premiums by using their consumer data to serve highly targeted ads. The right ad signaling solution can automate communication across the whole advertising ecosystem and distribution platforms. Consumers get a targeted and relevant ad, advertisers and brands hit the right audience, and sports leagues generate more revenue — a win-win.

Sports leagues can begin with their “known knowns” and explore ways to monetize their content where it makes the most sense.

The strategic opportunity of content monetization

Tier 2 leagues can capitalize on niche and enthusiastic fan bases by extending their content touchpoints across digital platforms and taking the reins in their own distribution and sponsorship opportunities.

Even leagues that are just starting to consider their options can explore easy-to-deploy monetization routes like sponsored graphics. From proprietary social media channels to digital apps and streaming platforms, the monetization of content will shake up the dynamics of the sports industry and reward tech-enabled innovators.

Tier 2 leagues can capitalize on niche and enthusiastic fan bases by extending their content touchpoints across digital platforms and taking the reins in their own distribution and sponsorship opportunities.


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