There’s no question that sports remain one of the most popular types of media content—no matter if it’s broadcast online or on traditional TV. In 2020, as video consumption increased online due to the pandemic, sports-specific video content increased at a similar rate. In 2021, sports streaming online increased again and the trend is set to continue.
Sports live streaming services, like JW Player, are ready for the expected surge in online streaming viewership. As fans migrate away from cable subscriptions and onto digital platforms, there are countless opportunities to better engage with your fans.
Live streaming your games, post-match interviews or exclusive behind-the-scenes content provides a direct way to reach a larger, more engaged audience beyond your stadium seats. It’s an incredible opportunity to showcase live games and exclusive on-demand content to fans without them needing to be physically present.
Sports streaming online overtakes cable subscriptions
In the second quarter of 2020, more than 1.3 million homes cut the cord on traditional cable & satellite TV services, long favored by sports fans. Sports subscribers are instead opting for online streaming services, which allow for more interactivity in content watching, access (across desktop, mobile or Connected TV), and fan engagement.
One streaming service OTT reported a 300% increase in subscribers in 2020 alone! And according to industry experts at eMarketer, the number of US digital live sports viewers is expected to increase by 14.1% in 2021, after a 14.2% increase last year.
Sports-oriented OTT services are expanding fast, and with the right video streaming service, publishers can find both new ways to monetize content and new ways to engage with fans. There’s no better time to start live streaming your sports content while the digital trend is still surging. Football and soccer teams, basketball, cricket, and countless other sports find JW Player’s live streaming services an easy solution for reaching fans online.
Notts County FC, Boston United and several other football clubs are now live streaming their league matches this 2021 season with JW Player. One team regularly has 250,000+ viewers on their live streams! That’s significantly more viewers than most teams can imagine seating in a stadium audience!
It’s not just matches you can stream, though. Some teams are putting pre-season friendlies, exclusive post-match interviews, Q&As with the coach, and even training games online. And with JW Player’s robust recommendation engine, more viewers online stay engaged longer with more content. And more viewers means more fans and more opportunities to monetize your content library!
Benefits of Live Streaming Your Sports Content
Using digital video to live stream matches or showcase behind-the-scenes content from games is a great way to increase fan engagement, share a live experience with a global audience, and even increase revenue through digital tickets & playbacks.
Nielsen reports since 2017 that sporting events account for 86% of all live-streamed content, so the opportunities and benefits from live streaming are huge. Here are the top reasons why teams around the world are choosing to live stream with JW Player in 2021.
1. Reach a global audience with ease
The technology JW Player uses allows for TV-quality online streaming to be played at scale. And that means more satisfied viewers for your sports content whether live games, friendly matches, or just on-demand exclusives . Live events can be launched quickly and easily with just a click of a button in JW Player, seamlessly streamed across all of your brand’s connected sites and apps.
Notts County FC pioneered live streaming success in their football league when they launched live streaming in 2020. The football league sold over 5,000 match passes (at £12) for their first two streamed games. The team exceeded their initial sales forecasts and, assuming an average of two people watching per stream, those numbers actually exceed their average stadium attendance!
2. Increase fan engagement with exclusive content
With a digital video strategy, your team can use new content types to engage with fans in more meaningful and exciting ways. Live and on-demand videos are easy to upload and with more engaging content such as exclusive player interviews, behind-the-scenes storytelling, or live streaming of pre-season friendly matches, you can reach more people in more engaging ways.
According to Google’s consumer insights, the time fans spend watching interview-style sports content has grown by 60% in the past year alone. Your fans are craving more ways to watch, and more types of content. With a digital video strategy for your sports team, you can provide the content your fans are craving and offer it as a paid upsell with potential for new revenue—especially important while stadium attendance may not be possible.
Providing fans with both live and on-demand videos improves long-term engagement and keeps your team top-of-mind. Your fans are more likely to engage with your team the more content they have access to.
And the JW Player recommendation engine keeps your fans engaged with your content. Our recommendations player generates, on average, 88% follow-on plays. (source) The longer your fans stay engaged with your content, the more opportunities you have to direct them to your website or online shop.
3. Extra functionality & usability make streams more accessible
With JW Player’s DVR capability, viewers can rewind back to the beginning of the stream if they join late. The ability to start and stop streams make the viewing experience more enjoyable for your fans, who are then more likely to stay engaged longer. Less worry about running to the bathroom and missing a goal, point, or touchdown!
Plus, instant playback during live streams makes it easier for your fans to instantly replay the most exciting moments from your matches. They can pick and choose what to re-watch. And with the option to access on-demand content later, your fans are likely to re-engage with the content again and again!
4. Deliver live streams anywhere, anytime
Almost 30% of sports fans stream live sports directly on their smartphones or tablets (source), but as digital media has gone increasingly mobile, JW Player makes it easy to broadcast those streams further. JW Player includes support for both Chromecast and Airplay, making it easy for viewers to broadcast your live streams or VOD onto a living room TV. Reach audiences anywhere on any device or platform!
JW Player supports live streaming on the web, mobile, OTT, and even social channels. And for sports teams that need the flexibility to monitor who can access a live stream, JW Player includes geo-blocking to protect your content.
5. Easy-to-understand analytics & data reporting
Real-time audience analytics during a live stream makes it easier for you to understand what content your fans are craving. And with that kind of in-depth reporting, you’ll be able to customize future video content offers to further increase engagement.
JW Player’s live stream analytics are among the best in the industry. You can easily view the total number of viewers for a live event by domain, device, and geography. And with that kind of knowledge, you can better tailor your on-demand content according to the interests of your fans.
6. Opportunities to generate new revenue streams
With a video content strategy, there are several ways to generate new revenue. Besides the marketing value of having content accessible in more places and on more platforms (your fans will thank you), there are added ways to make new types of revenue.
As sports streaming online rises and reaches a global audience, media rights revenues are expected to rise beyond $85 billion by 2025, according to Rethink Research. (source) Opportunities to generate new revenue streams through video streaming are just beginning—whether it’s with pay-per-view ticket access, subscriptions, or advertising & brand sponsorships.
If you’re not producing video content online, though, you’re not where your fans are. Sporting events account for 86% of all live-streamed content (source) and 7 out of 10 adults in the U.S. report watching sports streams at least once per month! (source)
More than 12,000 brands, web publishers and broadcasters use JW Player technology to stream, play, engage and monetize video on their sites, powering over 10 billion monthly plays. It doesn’t matter how big or small your team is, when you’ve got an engaged audience of fans, you might as well offer what they’re looking for. And there’s no question that sports fans want live streams and video content they can browse directly from their favorite teams.
With JW Player you can deliver your live games, matches, and exclusive behind-the-scenes content to your fans broadcast-quality with little effort. Live Channels by JW Player offers a simple workflow to reach and monetize your audience across all devices and platforms, including web, mobile, OTT apps, and social. Increase your engagement with a live streaming strategy today.
Learn more about sports streaming solutions from JW Player here.
Originally published January 21, 2021. Updated January 5, 2022.