Live Streaming Events: Big Opportunity for Connected Stadiums
Live streaming events are quickly becoming one of the most popular applications on the web, particularly in the sporting world.
With younger fans gravitating toward digital media experiences on their mobile devices vs. traditional broadcast and cable, sports venues are finding that connectivity and digital services are the keys to future growth. Along with concierge services, real-time messaging and a host of other features, live streaming is quickly turning sporting contests into multi-layered experiences, rather than events that are merely seen in person.
There are two types of live streaming: On one level, stadiums are starting to offer both standard and hi-def video feeds on their local Wi-Fi networks, giving users the ability to zoom in, replay and otherwise engage the action on a personal level. These local streams can also be tied to chat services, e-commerce, statistical analysis and virtually any other app that developers can dream up — providing an interactive, multichannel experience that strengthens brand loyalty and builds a stronger fan base.
Live Streaming Events Up Close
In the bargain, many stadiums are finding these connected services also improve backend operations like ticketing, food services and merchandising, leading to direct revenue gains and improvements to the bottom line. France’s Parc Olympique Lyonnais, according to Digital Sport, has gone so far as to scrap its giant stadium screen — a major cost center, both in capital and operational terms — in favor of digital devices located throughout the stadium and backed by a supporting Wi-Fi infrastructure that can maintain upwards of 20,000 simultaneous connections.
But the top prize for a connected stadium, suggests GeekWire, probably goes to Santa Clara’s Levi Stadium, home to Super Bowl 50 earlier this year. Demand for data services jumped 63 percent over the previous year’s contest at the University of Phoenix, topping 10.1 TB. To handle the load, the stadium laid in more than 400 miles of cable, 12,000 network access ports, 1,300 Wi-Fi access points, 1,200 Bluetooth beacons and 40 Gbps connectivity.
Of the more than 3.0 Gbps consumed during the four-hour event, nearly 20 percent was video.
Fortune reports that live streaming is also making its way onto public mobile networks as companies like Twitter and Facebook start to pay handsomely for the privilege. Twitter recently signed deals with Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League, and outbid both Amazon and Verizon for the National Football League’s Thursday night games. It is still unclear how Twitter will fold these streams into its service platform, although it isn’t hard to see the advantages of embedding the feeds into or alongside Twitter conversations.
How It Affects the Sport
The impact this will have on the sporting industry as a whole is mixed, though. For top-tier venues, streaming revenues should be weighed against traditional broadcast and cable rights, which for many years have contributed mightily to the sporting industry’s profitability. At the same time, explains Beyond, live streaming is an ideal way for smaller venues to draw larger audiences and tap into new fan bases. All organizations will need to implement security as a core asset of their connected platforms, given the increasing prevalence of wildcat applications that make it easy to illegally tap into streaming data.
Ultimately, however, stadiums and the teams they support have little choice but to adopt live streaming events; it’s a key component of their overall fan support and outreach strategies. To younger viewers, just sitting and watching a game is about as old-fashioned as spinning your own yarn or riding a horse-and-buggy into town.
These days, fans crave connectivity — not just with the event taking place, but with service providers, data stores and other fans. Live streaming is one of the best ways to ensure that the drama and excitement of athletic competition is not lost on an increasingly media-saturated culture.