SPORTEL bills itself as “the most influential business convention for the sports media industry” and largely consists of sports rights holders negotiating content acquisition and distribution deals. On Wednesday, at this year’s Miami show, I had the pleasure of joining a panel led, ably and energetically, by Sports Video Group’s Jason Dachman.
Sharp minds from Perform Group, IMG, Deltatre, Virtually Live and Brightcove customer WWE debated the value of the 2nd screen in sports video and 6 share-worthy points emerged from the discussion:
2nd Screen is actually the 1st Screen in certain markets
In Australia, creating for the 2nd screen meant that Brightcove customer Mi9 could assemble a State of Origin rugby companion app with compelling multi-camera video, social media and stats for fans. The app is designed to augment the broadcast on the 1st screen. However, in Latin America, for example, and according to Guillermo Santa Cruz of IMG Media, the phone is much more likely to be used as the primary viewing device. (Mobile phone sales in that region grew 59% YOY in 2014, fastest in the world.)* Developing the right video-centric 2nd screen experience for mobile means preparing content in different formats and bitrates and maybe a greater emphasis on highlights vs. linear streams given users’ data cap limitations. It also requires expertise on delivering mobile video ads – which as we’ve seen – isn’t always easy.
Authentication for 2nd screen video can mean multiple things:
Authentication was discussed in two capacities. For broadcasters delivering content supplemental to the broadcast (think NBC offering digital-only streams of smaller sports from the Olympics on its iPad app), the emphasis may be on “authentication” as it is commonly interpreted in the pay TV ecosystem (e.g. TVE). However, authentication for all of these additional OTT opportunities is about the subscriber management responsibility and CRM opportunity. Companies like Cleeng are skilled at allowing content owners and service providers to manage and communicate with users and do things like hold credit cards on file such that consumer purchases of subsequent subscriptions or PPV events are one-click. [Side note: If there was one prevailing theme of SPORTEL overall, to me it was that content owners can just go direct with their own video services in markets where they don’t choose an exclusive broadcast partner.]
Ed Wells, SVP of International for WWE has the unique position of doing both types of authentication. As he explained it, in Canada, their linear channel is on Rogers but the “[WWE] Network there is [also] this massive 3000 plus hours of content that simply can’t be housed by a cable box” so they developed an authentication mechanism to enable a WWE-specific user to get access to the additional content.
Sports content owners and their broadcast partners trail the “digital natives” when it comes to 2nd screen
WWE and Mi9 may be examples of content owners and broadcasters driving engagement with their digital rights via their apps but it’s sometimes unclear whether the greatest 2nd screen value can be generated on a league site, a broadcaster site, a digital 2nd screen specialist’s app (Beamly, Viggle, etc.) or a broad reaching, non-verticalized digital platform like Twitter. Said Wells, as content owners get better at building and monetizing 2nd screen themselves, the value they command for digital rights will continue to grow more expensive.
Should the 2nd screen be to drive to the 1st screen?
Another factor in the rights calculation for content owners is whether 2nd screen is for driving linear tune-in (and maybe reaching new consumers) or for monetizing in its own right (perhaps by going deeper with fans). If the former, deals with broad reaching platforms are enticing.
In the case of WWE, the “Second Screen” function of the network’s mobile and tablet app is designed to augment their TV partners’ presentation (no live stream) and drive linear tune in. Said Wells, “our content is storyline based – it evolves every week – there’s a storyline arc across Raw and Smackdown that drives engagement with the fan.” Raw and Smackdown appear only in the library some time after it was on TV.
But, they also have their paid service, the WWE Network, accessible through the app as an SVOD offering that features the big PPV events and “original series that we’ve developed only for the network… it’s an original experience rather than competitive (with what is on linear].”
Twitter may sometimes seem like THE 2nd screen but…
Google’s research on 2nd screen behaviors indicates that fans restrict themselves from true engagement on broad social platforms. Bruno Rocha from Perform Group offered anecdotal support saying that private groups on What’s App in LATAM are widely used by fans who want to talk trash in semi-private. Could this concept or that platform be adapted more effectively by the content owners for the 2nd screen?
The nature of your content drives what you should do
Jose Luis Kruyff from DeltaTre summed it up nicely: If the sporting content and the speed of the action lends itself to betting or fantasy, then explore those options. If the live stream and supplementary video is most important, explore ads or paywalls for that experience. Understanding the UX is the path to 2nd screen engagement and, in turn, monetization.
*Source: GfK smartphone sales based on point-of-sale tracking in 90+ markets