Prior to the pandemic, livestreaming was in some ways a novelty and a small niche experience. It was an experience that seemed almost exclusive to professional and collegiate sports. Some high-end high schools and recreational leagues may have offered livestream access, but the majority of sports enthusiasts had minimal interaction with the technology.
The push to virtual experiences during the pandemic for sports facilities, governing bodies, event owners and teams developed an appetite for the technology that has only continued to grow. With this heightened interest and demand, there is a lot of innovation that is occurring and additionally, some really exciting experiences to be had.
From integrating analytic data providers to AI-driven cameras, livestream offerings are highly competitive. With all of the cool technology and services that are now available, it may be tough for a consumer to determine which service to use. There are a lot of great options, but you can only pick one. Here are a few of the questions to take into consideration as you embark upon making that decision.
Who is the livestream for?
Who is the primary target audience – or more accurately, do you have a particular group in mind who will be viewing the stream? There are different groups who may access the livestream content. Parents and other family members, athletes, coaches, scouts, recruiters and the general public all have different livestreaming needs. Yes, some of these needs overlap; however, there are some very distinguishable differences. Here’s a quick breakdown of these.
The views that coaches look for are often different from that of a casual viewer. In baseball, many coaches appreciate a first or third base camera angle as it provides an open view of the hitter or pitcher’s mechanics. If you have high school-age athletes, parents really appreciate the AI-driven follow-the-ball cameras. However, scouts and recruiters find the cameras disruptive when evaluating athletes off the ball. This is why it is important to know specifically who the livestream is intended to serve.
Another way of defining this question is to determine if the stream is for entertainment, developmental or identification purposes. The entertainment experience is typically for mom, dad, extended family or casual fans – or for alumni who want to keep track of how their school team is doing. These people typically want scoreboard features and rostering, and an announcer, when available, is always a bonus. This will require the platform to provide the features or the ability to integrate such options.
The development experience is typically paired with an individual athlete or team account that allows you to interact with the video. The interaction with the video consists of the ability to create clips, highlights and video annotations. The identification experience is all about integrated data analytics and visibility. Providing analytic data recorded onsite and then streamed live concurrently with the video feed allows scouts and recruiters to better evaluate the event participants, and to keep their eyes on any athletes in whom they are particularly interested.
Who pays for the livestream?
The streaming service fee is traditionally placed on either the publisher or the viewer. The publisher can be seen as the venue, governing body, event owner or team that hosts the livestream. They own the equipment and are responsible for the ongoing costs associated with the service. When the publisher is paying for the stream, this means that the viewer views for free once they have accessed the link. The viewer is just that, the individual accessing the stream for viewing purposes.
When the viewer pays, they are directed to a paywall that requires them to submit a form of payment in order to access the video feed. Some platforms are subscription-only and require that viewers pay for monthly or annual access to their content. However, the vast majority provide the publisher with both options, meaning you can choose whether you as the publisher will pay, or whether viewers will pay via a paywall.
Can I add a paywall to the stream?
If you choose to go with a paywall option, be sure to understand the terms of your revenue share. Revenue shares can range all the way from 90/10 in your favor to 90/10 in the livestream platform’s favor. There are a few businesses that do not allow the publisher to participate in the revenue share for the paywall at all. However, that is typically due to the fact that the platform likely covered the cost of the camera and installation as well. Be aware of these situations as they will likely require a lengthy contract.
Who owns the video content?
This question is not asked nearly enough by prospecting clients. Many platforms will claim the rights to the video content and the ability to use or sell it. This is unfortunate as the value of the content is created by the publisher and athletes participating. All content should be owned by the creator or cooperatively with the publisher, rather than by the platform.
Do they offer white labeling?
Some providers offer white labeling or embedding so that your brand remains in front of the viewers at all times. Embedding means that they will provide you with an HTML code to place on either a new or existing page on your website. This code displays the video content through an inline frame, or iframe, and keeps users on your site, consequently allowing you to track and improve your own site analytics.
With a white labeled offering, you are taking the platform and essentially wrapping your brand around its product; this often occurs through the use of a subdomain you can name yourself, such as watch.yourbrand.com. Alternatively, you can create a new branded domain specifically for livestreaming purposes such as yourbrand.tv or yourbrand.media.
Make sure you take everything into consideration
In summary, at first sight, all livestream platforms may seem to be the equivalent; however, there are several key factors that will determine the value of your experience, and that of your audience. There is a constant emergence of new technologies within the space so be sure to identify an option that is comfortable and will meet your needs. Be sure to speak with representatives from a number of competing businesses to ensure you are picking the right solution. There are a lot of great options out there, so ask questions and choose the right one for you. SDM