How to make better sports OTT engagement decisions with data

What happens to the sports fans using your streaming service after the final whistle? Some will stick around for the post-match analysis. Others will shift over to other content you offer. But a chunk of them will disappear until the next live event.

Sports entertainment is naturally spikey. It’d be easy to think this isn’t a problem since sports fans, by definition, are fanatical about their interests and therefore likely to stick around no matter what. But, perceived value is a big factor in whether a subscriber stays hooked to a streaming service and is willing to pay the monthly fee – and it’s no different with sports. 

So, how should sports services look to increase perceived value? And how can data insights be used to drive more engagement to support this goal?

To answer both questions, let’s look at the following:

  • What makes sports fans different from other OTT subscribers.
  • What this means for engagement.
  • The role of data analytics for meeting expectations.
  • How understanding audience intent can boost engagement year-round.

What makes sports fans different

As we all know, sports fans are unique. They each have different needs, interests, and passions. And this extends to the way they consume content. Sports streaming services, then, must cater for several different types of fan at once, wrapped up in a sports-focused user experience.

A big part of this is making it as easy as possible for fans to discover content they are interested in, including VOD assets related to the teams or leagues they follow rather than just certain sports. This is where the effective use of audience data comes in. Not only to identify each individual fan’s specific interests, but to personalize content discovery to boost engagement and time spent on the platform.

What this means for fan engagement

Analyzing audience data in this way is important for any OTT business. But it’s especially important in sport because expectations are higher. Fans don’t want to be promoted content that is not relevant to their interests. Or, worse, content about a rival team. 

Understanding audience preference and consumption behavior is an important first step for navigating this. It’s key to targeted personalization which brings several benefits. From more effectively monetizing the sports OTT ecosystem to greater ROI from content investment, the data insights gleaned from this process are useful for more than just acting on consumption habits. It’s all connected: growing engagement will help minimize the risk of churn while increasing advertising revenues through more active time on the platform.

With almost half of adults having cut the cord, and viewing habits changing dramatically, sports services will soon be dealing with more audience and platform data than ever before. If collected and analyzed correctly, with the right approach to data analytics, this will encourage fans to ‘lean-in’ to streaming platforms even more, contributing to the transformation of live sports entertainment.

The role of data analytics

Data analytics is essential to the success of OTT sports. But unlocking audience insights can be difficult. You’ll need to think about:

  • Automating data collection from your systems and tech stack.
  • The analysis of that data, and processing to turn it into actionable insight. 
  • How you’ll implement that insight to drive tangible results.
  • How you’ll track the impact of those actions on subscriber growth, churn, etc.

It’s a lot of work, so traditional data processing isn’t feasible in the long run. Instead, you’ll need to invest in a data dashboard to collect, structure, and make sense of all the valuable insight hidden in your platform. If you’re thinking about whether it’s best to buy or build, check out our guide on the pros and cons of each.

An advanced audience insights platform, like Wicket Scorecard, can help unlock insights that go beyond the immediate benefit of driving user engagement. This includes:

  • Understanding what content fans are interested in most, and what content would keep them engaged outside main events.
  • The value of content investments, and the speed at which different assets are picking up momentum. This helps reveal where you should either double down on promotion or pull back.
  • Predicting churn risk and identifying the actions needed to prevent it, as well as knowing what marketing campaigns are pulling fans in effectively.
  • Developing targeted win-back campaigns to bring lost customers back into the fold, whether that was due to voluntary or involuntary churn, which means looking beyond content consumption to track revenue events, metadata, and more.

Understanding audience intent and engagement

Sports services are going through a period of transformation with the introduction of in-play betting, real-time stats, and other features used to build the ecosystem and grow value for rights holders and distribution partners. Getting the most from this investment means keeping subscribers engaged. Especially during the off-season or at times where the events schedule is disrupted, like during the coronavirus pandemic.

Understanding audience intent – what makes each subscriber tick, what content discovery and curation decisions will encourage them to remain on the platform and exploring catalog content, etc – is the way to make this a reality. Yet this can only happen by enabling that one-to-one relationship with the subscriber, recognizing their wants and needs and using that insight to create a tailored, sports-focused user experience.

The goal of any sport OTT service is to create fans that are as loyal to the platform as they are to their chosen team or league. As the sports streaming space gets crowded and fans continue to expect more from the services they choose, transforming audience insights into a competitive advantage with a platform like Wicket Scorecard will help you stand out from the crowd.

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