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Sports Operators Investment in OTT Technology to Hit $6.6 Billion by 2021, Study Finds

Figure is an increase from $5.6 billion in 2018

Sports operators are set to increase investment into OTT technology from approximately $5.6 billion in 2018 to $6.6 billion by 2021, according to a study released by Deltatre on Wednesday morning.

The study, which defines sports operators as content creators (leagues/federations) or distributors (media companies), found that current spend among these companies on OTT technology accounts for 15% of their budget.

The research suggests that a portion of the investment in technology will be spent on reducing latency (including 5G investment) — an issue that has plagued consumers who stream live content. A study from Phenix, a streaming systems developer, found that more than one in five consumers do not stream live content more often because they don’t want to deal with buffering issues.

Other areas of investment cited in the Deltatre study include creating unique ways for users to engage with the different sports they watch and deploying tools that enable operator flexibility in defining experiences and monetization capabilities.

“The investment in OTT will drive innovation that fuels growth businesses informed by deep levels of data and insights derived from a highly engaged, rapidly growing audience,” George Pyne, CEO of Deltatre-parent Bruin Sports Capital, noted in the study. “Those that ignore this opportunity will pay a real penalty because they’ll miss out on a highly-valuable consumer base which nobody can afford to do.”

According to the study, 72% of sports fans view personalization as “important” and 71% of sports fans say they crave “deeper immersion” when watching live games.

“The sports OTT KPIs have changed. It’s no longer just about streaming the match. Encouraging viewers to come back day after day is the gold standard, even when there’s not a live match taking place,” Giampiero Rinaudo, CEO of Deltatre, explained. “And that means maximizing engagement on the shoulders of the game itself. Tailoring video and editorial content to different types of fans and reconfiguring the UI and UX based on time of day, user insights, or the latest developments in the sports world that week, is how brands create a better ecosystem around a sport.”

When it comes to viewing habits, Deltatre found that computers (laptop and desktop), with a 47% share, were the most used device to stream sports coverage during the regular season. Deltatre believes that the high PC use is related to the time of day in which games are streamed, such as during work hours. According to the study, connected TVs account for 19.4% during the regular season to 28.8% during the final stages as viewers seek to watch major games on as large a screen as possible.

Founded in 1986, Deltatre is a sports media services company that provides consulting services for videos, websites, graphics, and sports businesses. The data in its report was contrived by combining user data pulled directly from over 1.2 billion minutes of video streamed via live, Deltatre-powered OTT deployments and from interviews with more than 24 top executives in sports and media, including eight from top sports leagues