How sports OTT services can avoid the same subscriber lag as Netflix | Opinion

We’ve heard a lot about the streaming industry slowing down lately. Netflix subscriber growth is slowing. Other platforms are also struggling to meet growth targets.

There are reasons for this.

There is a cost of living crisis. Inflation is rising – at the time of writing it stands at 9.1% in the UK and 8.6% in the US. Energy bills and the cost of refueling a family car are at levels not seen in decades.

It follows that people will then seek to cut back on the ‘non-essentials’ and this includes leisure pursuits such as streaming services. The “subscription economy” is facing its first real payback.

We saw many new entrants to the market, all aiming to challenge the hegemony enjoyed by Netflix and Disney. Some of these participants are huge global brands with big budgets to play with. Others are more niche services aimed at attracting a captive audience within a specific sphere.

After all, there are only so many users available. As this battle for eyeballs intensified, customers began to choose which services to do without.

Added to this is streaming fatigue. People coming out of a period where they spent more time indoors, glued to their screens, simply got bored with what was on offer and instead sought out other activities for stimulation.

So what does this mean for those of us on the vendor side?

At Deltatre, we are responsible for delivering specialist innovations in over-the-top (OTT), websites and applications, graphics, data, officiating systems, user experience and product design.

This means working with clients to enhance engagement through innovative tools such as live blogs, next-generation insights and visualizations, interactive video players, and more.

Right now, our focus is on answering one important question: how can we attract and retain users on streaming services? And user experience plays a big role in that.

According to research conducted by PwC, content and UX have the same effect on perceived value. For those broadcasters broadcasting live sports, consider interaction during live games through interactive timelines and engaging layers, co-viewing features, etc.

As they say, you only live once. And this is where sports OTT services need to refine their front-end offering to go beyond the experience, especially if they are to compete for customers with those offering a wider range of content.

It could also be an evolution in terms of the back end of the service – along with better UX management tools that drive content discovery and reduce churn. This, in addition to developing a clear brand identity through sophisticated design, is critical in the battle to win customers, stay relevant and retain their attention over time.

We often work with clients who want to bring a new product or service to market. In challenging conditions, this requires careful consultation and strategizing. In addition, there are customers who want to rethink and redesign their existing offering, both in terms of design and pricing model. As the market shrinks, both need accurate positioning and roadmaps.

And this is equally true for a “niche” service. When consumers are considering which services to keep and which to ditch, don’t assume they’ll automatically keep all the biggest brands with the biggest content collections. Indeed, for smaller services this is an opportunity to prove their value and differentiation – especially those involved in live sports.

Amidst all the talk of streaming slowing down, we should pause to think. In fact, despite changing market dynamics, consumers are not giving up on streaming as a concept. Mega deals involving sports and entertainment streaming services are reported on this website every week.

The key is combining accessibility with offering content that the user finds indispensable and an experience that is best in class.

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