As the YouTube versus TV debate rumbles on, the increase in live streaming of sports on social platforms gives an indication of how the market should be looking to work in an integrated manner going forward, rather than engaging in disputes about the benefits of one platform as opposed to another.
Social video is starting to look like TV, and the broadcasters are realising the importance of social to drive live engagement with audiences. Now is the time to stop debating whether TV budgets are best spent on linear TV or online video platforms, and to start focusing on actual audience behaviours and how we can best use this knowledge to interact with them in an engaging cross-platform manner.
BT Sport are potentially live streaming the Champions League Final on YouTube; Twitter have secured the streaming rights to Thursday night NFL games following a bidding war with Amazon; Yahoo are building ties with Major League Baseball; and Facebook Live is making real-time broadcasting available to users. When we consider that almost 50% of all Twitter TV conversations focus on sport, we can see why there will be more of these types of partnerships in the future, as audiences continue to embrace alternative ways to view TV content. Sport audiences still have the desire for scheduled viewing, but increasingly want to do so via mobile-friendly formats which also provide an immediacy of social sharing.
Cross-platform video is an established way to reach millennial audiences as they move away from linear TV, and we’re now seeing the broadcasters trying to get into the act through the use of live streaming on social platforms, to enhance their coverage. With the online platforms currently having no compelling ad offering on their live formats and the limited availability of sports rights, the next few months should be an interesting time, as we see a land grab for rights and monetisation.
The broadcasters have expertise in negotiating sports rights and bringing content to mass audiences, while the social platforms have proven ability in engaging with millennials and delivering enhanced targeting, so there are clear benefits of working together rather than working in competition. The question is whether the parties can work out a mutually beneficial way to monetise sports audiences and equitably share revenues?
Facebook and Twitter see live video as a key battleground for social audiences, so going forward it will be interesting to see whether the broadcasters decide to align themselves with one platform over the other, or whether the social platforms will instead choose to enter into the expensive fight for sports rights.