The rapid evolution of sports and streaming-as-a-service.

The last few years have seen significant changes being made to the ways in which we access and view sports. Consider the metrics that have been added to football players’ line of vision during games; touches in the box and expected goals, for instance, offer a level of insight that football fans once had to do without.

To take it one step further, we are now only just beginning to see the ways in which the digital broadcast – as opposed to linear, terrestrial coverage – can transform the at-home viewing experience. Intel’s True View technology, for instance, has already enabled a lucky few to view certain NFL and NBA games via their virtual reality headsets. In doing so, they are able to transcend the camera’s limited scope, and view the game from any position – and from any angle – that they wish.

Also, consider how coverage for the upcoming Olympic Games is evolving to offer a more environmentally friendly approach to broadcasting. Utilising the cloud, and shrinking the broadcast pool by 30%, is anticipated to transform the ways in which we all follow the Olympics – not to mention the fact that it will give rise to a more sustainable future for the entire sporting world.

In essence – and while there are many more examples to call upon – the ways in which we view and enjoy sports has changed remarkably, in favour of the fans themselves.

Now, however, with new projects underway – and a significant shift over to digital broadcast – it looks as though the sporting world is preparing to undergo its most significant evolution of the twenty-first century so far.

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What We’ve Seen So Far

As technology’s influence has grown within our daily lives, we have seen a domino effect across the interconnected worlds of sports viewership, sports betting, sports commentating – not to mention, of course, the on-pitch experience for the players themselves.

And while new technologies like VAR and augmented reality are reshaping the sports themselves, it is the ongoing battle between streaming giants and more traditional broadcasters that is changing the experience for the overwhelming majority: those tuning in from home.

In a move that rivals the millions teams are investing into single players, big names are seeking to make a unanimous shift over to digital broadcasting, with indomitable giants like Amazon and Sky investing billions into securing even just a slim portion of broadcasting rights to some of the biggest matches out there.

Now, most recently, the American market leader Discovery – and their streaming service Discovery+ – are throwing their skin in the international game, hoping to make a splash within the UK’s rights to the Ashes.

The country’s major players – including Sky, BT and Amazon – are all willing to invest unprecedented amounts into securing rights, so it will be interesting to see quite how much sway a newcomer from across the pond can gather. What’s more, whether or not fans will take to the idea of potentially investing into yet another subscription, and spreading their attention even thinner – particularly in light of the fact that the Ashes are only nine months away, and cricket has never held enough sway within American markets.

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How Will This Impact Fans?

There are, of course, positives and negatives to the transition into digital broadcasting. The benefits stem from viewership itself; from the widening scope of technological innovation that comes from an emancipation from linear, television broadcasting. Fans can enjoy a more immersive experience and, as time goes by, an ever more interactive way of viewing sports remotely.

The downside is, of course, that fans have to choose between investing into multiple services in order to see every game, or limiting the number of games to which they have access for the sake of parsimony. It is, of course, frustrating – and, at times, enough to make one yearn for the ‘good old days’ of broadcasting – but, even for those who feel limited, there is plenty more still to come in the future.

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