18 / November / 2020

OTT Takes Sports To The Next Level

It is clear that content added into OTT environment is not only video anymore. It obtains features and tools, it gets closer and more enjoyable for viewer. What can OTT do for sports and how existing services embrace sports fans? Read on and get amazed.

OTT Takes Sports To The Next Level

Sports Without Cable

Live sports coverage is a real magnet for cable subscribers: you can get the same content and more from a dedicated streaming service. Some video streaming services offer sports commentary shows, but best options for sports fans are the cable-replacement services that offer game streams from local, national, and international networks. Plus, sports streaming services may include catch-up and timeshift functionality.

Live Sports vs. Sports Content

We suppose most sports fans want to watch live sports and sports-related programs. After all, there's no use in cutting the cord if you can't watch your favorite teams live. Sports commentary and shows about sports certainly add value, but they don't alone qualify a service as a sports streaming service.

For those reasons, HBO is not qualified as sports streaming service, despite its historical association with boxing and current high-quality sports shows, such as Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Hard Knocks, and Ballers. Starz also does not qualify, as it requires you to pay extra to watch its live streaming MMA content. Amazon Prime Video, on the other hand, streamed NFL games on Thursday nights for the 2019-2020 season and offered add-ons for watching live sports (MLB.TV, NBA League Pass, and PGA Tour Live).

More Than Sports

While the focus of this newsletter is on sports content, these services do not exist in a bubble. Monthly subscription costs can add up, and there's a good chance that not everyone in your household wants to watch sports exclusively. Many of these options cost up to $40 per month, depending on the package you choose, while add-ons can easily make that monthly price even higher.

Therefore, a service should consider whether it offers value for anyone else in household. Most of the best sports streaming services are also some of the best for general audiences, with good lineups of news and entertainment programming.

That said, some video streaming services, such as ESPN+ and Dazn, only offer sports content. As mentioned, CBS All Access or Amazon Prime Video, which are primarily on-demand services, offer a wide range of shows and movies to stream in addition to their live sports content. Hulu + Live TV also gives users access to a vast library of TV series and films.

Streaming Extras

Sometimes sports coverage, and particularly international sports coverage, doesn't air at a convenient time. If a viewer can't watch the game, a service with good DVR functionality, catch-up and timeshift will solve the problem. Some video streaming services offer a number of hours user can record (or unlimited recording), which can be kept in storage for a set amount of time or until the subcription is cancelled. 

What to do if two programs concur in time and the viewer doesn't want to watch a recorded version? If video service supports multiscreen and enables users to share account on different devices, then this won't be an issue. This feature is particularly helpful for families, since not everyone might want to watch sports during primetime hours.

League-Specific and International Sports

Many individual sports leagues offer their own thematic streaming services. NBA League Pass, PGA Tour LIVE, and MLB.TV are the best-known examples.

Many of the services offer major sports channels for international markets, such as BEIN, ESPN Deportes, Fox Deportes, and Univision Deportes, but some require to subscribe to extra packages for more sports content.

Even considering those few pieces of information it is clear that OTT is a huge step forward for sports content rights holders, as well as for sports fans.