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OTT: The rise of a new sports star

Sidhhant Agarwal, Founder, CEO, SportVot, writes about how the demand for live sports content that is easily accessible via the OTT platforms has increased and created a distinct category of viewers

Sidhhant Agarwal

The world of broadcast is revolutionising with the latest technologies in recent times. And sports broadcast is no stranger to this revolution, initially meant solely for television. But with the changing habits of consumers, more people are opting to watch sports on their mobile phones while on the move through the OTT (over-the-top) sports platform.

The demand for live sports content that is easily accessible via the OTT platforms has increased and created a distinct category of viewers.

Sports enthusiasts have welcomed and accepted the fact that the future of sports broadcasting is live streaming sports over the internet. With these changing dynamics and the ongoing demand, various OTT platforms are acquiring the rights of the major leagues in the world to gain more subscriptions and attract more audiences. OTT streaming has widely influenced the production of sports broadcasting as well as the viewers' experience.

The idea of OTT is a huge success globally compared to traditional means because it gives sports fans a much more immersive experience while giving them access to some of the most exclusive behind-the-scenes content. The multiple camera setup though has been an old invention, the development of enabling viewers to choose their viewing angles is giving the fans the freedom to view sports action from the perspective of their choice and this is becoming a predominant reason why fans are preferring to watch sports on OTT. The personalised touch adds to the viewing experience of the fans. OTT allows the viewers to connect with their favourite sports team by sharing unseen footage.

For instance, the dugout and the strategic time-out footage during each live Premier League game on Disney+ Hotstar enable the fans to watch their favourite teams prepping and interacting with each other before the action begins. Apart from Cricket, sports like Kabaddi, Volleyball or Football that were considered to be less popular or drew less attention from the Tier-1 and Tier-2 city viewers or had a niche audience also have gained massive viewership and ever increasing fanbase. The viewership numbers in India for sports in particular have been breaking the roofs consistently but more specifically after the pandemic. 

Ever since the pandemic hit the world, many people are opting to watch sports from the comfort of their homes rather than going to the stadiums, creating a challenge to attract viewers to the stadium for the live games. While at home, one can sit comfortably, and at their own convenience, they can watch the game, either live or later. 

Streaming apps are taking this comfort further ahead with search engines of the apps helping viewers access their preferred content over and over again at any point in time, a factor missing from the TV experience. This is attracting viewers to OTT and pushing major OTT platforms to provide quality sports content while many new sports-specific platforms have also burst onto the scene.  

The fans and the sports community are gaining big from this change as various OTT platforms during major leagues or games offer a free trial period to get the fans hooked onto the platform and fans in return get to watch their favourite sports action at minimal costs. 

OTT has opened the doors to new possibilities that weren't available by traditional means. A large chunk of the population that consumes the OTT content is from metropolitan cities and tier-2 cities. So, there is an entirely new market to cater to which the OTT platforms will be able to please. Tier-3 cities still prefer a mix of both regional and global content. For them, the IPL has the same prominence as their local league, which is equally popular with them.

The local leagues that generally have a few people watching or following the games are now reaching the global stage by broadcasting sporting events across the globe through available OTT platforms. This is helping the local leagues to garner new fans and to create a stronghold with their dedicated fanbase that wants to tune in and watch the game. The commentary for the local games in the regional language adds to the viewing experience of the local fans.

The content distributors have capitalised on the trend by either subscriptions or advertisements and sponsorships on the OTT platform. It is a great opportunity for new and smaller organizations to reach the fans beyond their market and globally. The OTT platforms gather vital data about their viewers, their viewing habits, patterns, demographic, and preferences. This data helps the content producers to position their content in a certain way that will give a wholesome experience to the fans while guaranteeing a loyal consumer base to the platform.

The internet now has to offer umpteen options for sports fans to watch their favourite sports and to discover new ones. With this, OTT platforms can make or break the viewers' experiences, so having one that will provide an immersive experience is essential today. Do pick wisely!

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