Advanced Television

Forecast: More platforms to board sports streaming bandwagon

December 14, 2023

As 2023 draws to a close, Brad Altfest, Managing Director of Media and Entertainment at Agora, provider of real-time engagement solutions, has shared his industry predictions for the coming year.

Below Altfest shares his thoughts on what’s next for streaming:

  •  The growing importance of Ultra Low Latency (ULL) streaming in sports for the purposes of synchronisation

For a sports fan heavily invested in an exciting game, there is nothing more frustrating than hearing a celebration from a fellow fan watching next door, whose feed is more up-to-date than yours. This ruinous experience often happens in high-density areas where streams are subject to higher latency, but it’s also detrimental in an age of high fan interactivity, where viewers cannot take full advantage of live features if their streams are behind. In 2024, streaming platforms will begin to double down on ultra low latency, ensuring all streams are fully synced for the ultimate fan experience.

  • Adding more user interactivity to the ‘lean back’ visual experience 

In 2023, we learned that even for passive live event fans, there are opportunities to incorporate interactivity, especially via real-time technology. The NFL’s recent collaboration with Disney, Pixar, and ESPN presented an alternate Toy Story-themed broadcast of the Jaguars vs Falcons game. Building on previous partnerships with Nickelodeon  featuring interactive visual overlays, this introduced an engaging element for younger viewers without disrupting the lean-back viewer experience. This was accomplished by placing chips in players’ helmets relayed real-time positioning and movements, demonstrating an innovative way to entertain and retain fans. Imagine being able to watch games with specialised avatars on different screens, as viewers customise how they can watch events. That is the future we expect to see real-time technology unlock going forward.

  • More platforms get onboard the sports streaming bandwagon

In the past several years we’ve seen a shift in how sporting events are streamed, thanks to major players getting the rights to stream games from multiple leagues – Apple is the exclusive streaming service for the MLS and airs Friday night MLB games, Prime Video now airs Thursday Night Football games, and YouTube TV is the exclusive home of NFL Sunday Ticket. The market is there for other players to join, and it will be interesting to see if any take the big leap. One league to watch in 2024 is the NBA – its current media rights deal with ESPN and TNT expires in 2025, opening the door for other streamers to own a greater share of the market.

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