The Yorkshire County Cricket Club recently announced plans to become the first county to produce its own live footage of championship cricket, joining the tide of sports clubs eager to get their matches directly in front of viewers, including several other counties who already offer live footage on their websites. Yorkshire will be taking it a step further by deploying their own camera man for better quality footage, while syncing the coverage to the BBC’s live radio commentary.
Commenting on the news, Jim O’Neill, Principal Industry Analyst, Ooyala, said, “Sports across the board have been hit hard by reduced ratings on traditional television, and the “Millennial flu” epidemic, an affliction where viewers struggle to sit and watch an entire broadcast, chockful of adverts, for a lengthy period of time, is only in its very early stages and poised to spread quickly “Sports rights are amongst the most expensive, if not the most expensive, in the world, and this competitive market is affecting broadcasters, clubs and those involved along the entire sports supply chain, reaching a new audience via platforms such as Facebook Live or YouTube are increasingly attractive ways of reaching fans. There is no denying that the boom in online streaming services, when coupled with the boom in mobile viewing, means that an audience of such scale can surely only be reached now through OTT services.”
“County cricket is already experiencing a boom online via its social channels, and if Yorkshire can harness those trends when streaming on its own website, it could be the start of a digital revolution for county cricket and the rest of the sports broadcast industry. However, If clubs are going to make the most of the opportunity however, companies streaming sports, whether live or on demand, have generally thought of mobile devices as second screens, assuming fans would always opt to watch on the biggest screen available. But, with 30 per cent of sports fans saying they’ve streamed sports events — not just highlights, interviews and scores, but actual live events — to their smartphones and tablets, ignoring the need to optimise delivery to mobile devices carries significant risk.”
As long as this boom continues to grow, and as sports fans continue to favour a streamlined single production platform for streaming content, local teams such as Yorkshire are capable of building a digital audience that will take the power away from the likes of the ECB and back to the fans which, in the long term, might mean yet more competition for big broadcasters.