Movies, unscripted shows, cartoons, and even music have found a home and garnered a following on OTT platforms. However, there is one genre of entertainment that can’t seem to find footing — live sports. Despite how cost efficient a streaming service like SlingTV or FuboTV — both which offer a decent sports package — might be, consumers don’t trust the strength and reliability of the connection.
In fact, 72% of consumers expect bad service during a live stream, according to a new survey conducted by Phenix, a company that delivers end-to-end real time video solutions, in partnership with research firm YouGov. The survey, which consisted of 2309 participants, revealed that most consumers aren’t willing to put their full faith in OTT technology just yet, at least when it comes to watching their favorite teams. Additionally 64 percent expect buffering and 42 percent expect delays when streaming live programming.
Many of those who have been among the first to use a streaming service specifically for sports programming have been left disappointed. This can be seen in the comments on Twitter regarding both fuboTV and SlingTV customers.
In some cases, a consumers internet connection can be blamed for the lack in connectivity; not all consumers are aware that a 10mb/s service doesn’t give off the same power when connected to more than one device. But in many cases it boils down to technical difficulties on the side of the OTT provider. And for dedicated sports fans, all it takes is for one game to be interrupted by a bad connection to leave a long lasting bad taste in their mouth.
Latency is the main issue OTT providers of live sports are facing when attracting sports fans to their service. This can create a huge obstacle for platforms that are dedicated to mainly sports, like fuboTV, which recently reached 100k subscribers after launching nearly three years ago. But, according to the report, about 34% of those subscribers could be canceling the service because of connection issues.
“It’s apparent the ‘live’ streaming industry is fundamentally broken and latency issues are becoming a big, loud problem,” said Jed Corenthal, Chief Marketing Officer of Phenix, whose previous experience includes positions at the NFL, AVP Pro Beach Volleyball and more. “Sports is always going to need to be watched in real-time, but outside traditional broadcast mediums, the industry is still unable to offer it at scale, as evident by recent issues during live streams of major sporting events. The good news is sports fans aren’t going to stand for this and have the potential to be the primary voices calling for the industry to rethink what it means to truly deliver a game in real-time. They’re considering cancelling their subscriptions or just not signing up for new ones at all next year. Hopefully, these findings will serve as a wake-up call that finally convinces streaming platforms to solve the latency issues plaguing the market.”
For OTT to be the main destination for live sports, companies will need to invest in improved technology so that the connection and reliability of their platform is up to par with Pay-TV. This includes key players like Amazon, which has recently streamed live NFL games on the platform, but even with the large spending power that the company holds, there was still a 13 second lag when comparing its stream to a Pay-TV service.