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NAB 17: Scoring With Sports Advertising
As sports loses viewers on broadcast, they're moving online. Here's how to monetize them.
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If you build it, will they come? For NBC Sports the answer online is yes. "We stream virtually everything you see on TV,” said Eric Black, CTO, NBC Sports Digital & Playmaker Media.

Braodcast sports has struggled to attract viewers lately, but online viewing is booming. Here are six ideas for creating winning monetization opportunities from the NAB panel: "Sports 2.0: The New Rules of Fan Engagement."

  1. Experiment. "There is a lot of experimentation going on and I think this is the time to be doing it,” said Black. He is testing to see what people will consume and which monetization model works best. NBC Sports has two products, a TVE authenticated app and a direct-to-consumer offering. "We're seeing increased engagement and that’s across all platforms."

  2. Offer more. "There's less interest in following teams and more interest in following individuals now,” said Barry Bedlan, deputy director of AP Sports Products, The Associated Press. "One of the most popular feeds (for their Premier League customers) is the locker room feed as someone gets thrown off the pitch."

  3. Change the paradigm. "Millennials are not willing to watch 4 hours of football or basketball; they’ll watch the highlights and interviews," said Jim O'Neill, principal analyst and strategic media consultant, Ooyala. O’Neil says thinking young Millennials will change their stripes and go for cable subscriptions is betting on the wrong horse. Mobile is the preference for viewing environment. The exception is if viewers hit their data cap, then they're willing to go to other devices.

  4. Appeal to Millennials. Twitch has found a way to grab Millennial attention. This six-year-old media company now has 10 million daily active users, watching 106 minutes per-person, per-day. Twitch is a viewing and chat environment with a range of monetization models (SVOD, TVOD, AVOD) for their broadcasters. Plus, a new twist on the old PBS donation model. "We have something called 'cheering'," said Eric Brunner, sports partnership lead, Twitch. Viewers can buy graphic chat badges called Bits to use to support their favorite broadcasters. Rates start at $1.40 for 100 Bits with the broadcaster receiving 1 cent for every Bit used.

  5. Consider new ad units. Small time increments bring value to advertisers. "There's an icing penalty (in hockey) and there's a ten-second opportunity for an ad,' says John Bishop, CTO, media business unit, Akamai Technologies. Ten second ads are showing to be an acceptable interruption to viewers. "We see less attrition on those little ads because you don’t have to step away from your programming.”

  6. Think ahead. Consider new formats for VR and AR, like having a persistent billboard (advertisement) always show in the upper left corner for example. "The viewer is the producer (in these formats), and they choose what they want to watch," said Bishop. "It's not this rectangle anymore, it’' immersive. So where do you put that engagement?"

From left to right: John Bishop , CTO, Media Business Unit Akamai Technologies; Eric Brunner, Sports Partnership Lead, Twitch; Eric Black, CTO, NBC Sports Digital & Playmaker Media; Jim O'Neill , Principal Analyst and Strategic Media Consultant, Ooyala; Barry Bedlan , Deputy Director, AP Sports Products The Associated Press