Global Market for Live OTT Sports is Heating Up
As the ultimate live experience, sports are a driving force behind many subscribers’ decisions to choose between cable TV and OTT. Revenue growth in OTT is expected to almost double from 2017 to 2022 from $46.5 billion to $88.4 billion1 and by offering content choices to sports fans from all over the world, OTT providers can gain a critical competitive advantage. For example, the English Premier League (EPL) has over 210 million fans outside of the UK that Amazon intends to capture with a recent deal to show 20 matches a season in 2019-2020. The Indian Premier League (IPL) finished its 11th season in May 2018 and reached a record 202 million live OTT viewers. During this time, the digital and mobile platform Hotstar accounted for over 22 percent of the tournament’s overall viewership2. The IPL viewership on Hotstar grew over 55 percent in 2018 and 76 percent in 20173. Tencent has also recently formed a strategic multi-year partnership to live stream North American baseball to the Chinese market. The Chinese internet provider will stream 125 games, including premium events on Tencent PC, mobile and OTT platforms4.
India Live OTT Sports: Hotstar a Major Player
India currently has 38 OTT players and has crossed the 340 million mark for smartphones, exceeding the number of smartphone users in the United States, which stands at 223 million people. Smartphone penetration for India is at 28 percent in 20185. Meanwhile, the average internet speed in India is the lowest in the Asia Pacific region at 8.75 Mbps for download and 3.63 Mbps for upload, ranking #114 worldwide6. Video will drive 72% of all Internet traffic in 2018, up from 45% in 2013.
A major player in Indian live OTT sports is Hotstar, a video streaming platform that broadcasts the Indian Premier League (IPL) through Star India, a media conglomerate. After being around for a total of five years, Hotstar’s reputation kicked off in 2017 when it received 4.8 million concurrent spectators during the final match of the ICC Champions’ Trophy featuring India and Pakistan. Star India reported that its breakthrough platform tracked 202 million viewers who tuned into the 11th edition of the T20 tournament. Compared to 130 million the previous year, it reflects roughly a 55 percent jump. This spike is thought to be the turning point for portable platforms becoming mainstream7.
More than 50% of smartphone app users in India are between 18 and 24 years old, 29% are between 25 and 35. Hotstar specifically caters to this audience, calling them the “affluent metro youth” audience. IPL finished its 11th season in May of 2018 and reached a record 202 million live, OTT viewers. The digital and mobile platform Hotstar accounted for over 22 percent of the tournament’s overall viewership8. The IPL viewership on Hotstar has grown over 55 percent this year and 76 percent last year9. Notably, in 2018, more than 80% of IPL viewers were less than 35 years old, with many located in the six largest cities10.
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SonyLIV and Veqta are two other leaders in the world of Indian OTT live sports. One of the most difficult and costly aspects of live OTT sports is the delivery of quality services across the wide range of mobile devices, a competency SonyLIV has been working to master11. SonyLIV remains the official mobile and internet broadcaster for FIFA. During the 2018 FIFA World Cup SonyLIV will receive massive attention from football fans, offering its viewers a wide range of World Cup content, such as featured key moments, highlights, match playbacks, and real time updates12. Veqta specializes primarily in adventure sports, basketball, tennis, rugby, snooker, and pool.
China and APAC OTT Live Sports: Tencent & SportsFix Driving the Market Forward
In 2018, nearly 229 million people in China will use a subscription streaming service13. The market is expected to grow by more than 80% in 2017 and by 2019 more than 40% of video viewers in China will use an OTT service.
Tencent has recently formed a strategic multi-year partnership to live stream North American baseball. The Chinese internet provider will stream 125 games including premium events on Tencent PC, mobile and OTT platforms14.
Youku, a Chinese streaming platform, acquired digital rights to the FIFA World Cup in May 2018, just in time for the games which began in early June. The deal was made with China Central Television (CCTV) and together they will live stream 64 World Cup matches. In addition to the FIFA World Cup, Youku will stream highlights and on-demand content from the World Cup to its subscribers. The content will be provided to their users through their website, mobile app, and selected smart TVs15.
SportsFix is the first and only OTT platform to distribute live and video on demand sports content in the ASEAN region. Their services are offered through the mobile web and apps since a large amount of the population consume content on their mobile devices. SportsFix delivers matches from the Chinese Super League, Liga 1 Indonesia, Thai League, PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) and many other regional leagues16.
Delivering content that is secure can be a complex challenge for media and broadcast companies. In order to ensure content is delivered to the intended user in a secure method and based on subscription service, device and location requires a robust technology solution. The ExpressPlay suite represents a single service that provides content distributors, network operators, and broadcasters all of their media monetization. ExpressPlay’s reliable and cost effective digital rights management technology (DRM) combines with disruptive card-less Conditional Access System (CAS) to enable broadcasters and network operators to deliver content to a set-top-box or Smart TV via DVB broadcast-only devices. ExpressPlay offers multiple pricing plans to accommodate various business models and to reduce operational costs. As the long-lasting inventor and leader in DRM, Intertrust is uniquely positioned to service the OTT live sports market.
This article first appeared on Intertrust.com
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2018 Global Overview of Live OTT Sports White Paper: This whitepaper covers the OTT live sports markets in North America, Europe, India and China including statistics on the increase in viewership and which companies are capitalizing on this opportunity. Also discussed are the challenges and opportunities in scaling for millions of synchronistic viewers including support for large throughput, potential latency issues, content protection, delivery and media monetization.