Sports viewing habits are changing. Fans want instant access to short form highlights and in-play clips before, during and after games.
As a result, short form content is increasing in value because consumers want more of it.
So how can leagues, sports broadcasters and rights holders can make the most of this growth in popularity of short form highlights?
The value of short-form content is rising
A recent analyst report found that the value of in-play clips (+76% to $1.7 billion) and short-form highlights (+101% to $3.2 billion) is expected to rise at a faster rate than the value of live rights (+18.7% to $49.1 billion) over the next five years as a direct result of this trend. These revenues will be generated by sports rights holders licensing their clips to broadcasters through subscription-based and on-demand media asset management services.
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While live rights currently make up 86% of rights holders’ revenues, the average sports fan is only watching 55% of the total sports content they consume in real time. According to media analyst firm Two Circles, even that percentage is set to drop to 53% by 2024.
Digital competition intensifies
Certainly, part of the boost in value for short form content is changing consumer behaviour. While live rights to key sporting events are traditionally the ‘crown jewels’ for a media company, the focus has shifted, resulting in a new set of bidders in the market for short-form content.
Household names such as Apple, Facebook and Netflix are all rumoured to be actively bidding on rights for short form content, while Amazon Prime Video has already got in on the act. The leading streaming video provider was awarded the rights to Package F of the Premier League's live broadcasting rights in the UK. This package includes 20 live matches per season from one Bank Holiday and one midweek fixture programme.
Another good example is the $100 million partnership between the International Cricket Council (ICC) and Facebook. This deal saw Facebook become the exclusive digital content rights partner for ICC global events in the Indian sub-continent, including the vital post match recaps and in-play key moments through to 2023.
The high price tag is justified because, for example, short-form digital content of the CWC19 alone delivered the ICC a total of 4.6 billion views across owned channels and licensee partner channels.
From live to archive
A separate cricket-related sporting rights deal between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the BBC kicked in from 2020. This saw English international and domestic cricket live on BBC TV for the first time in 21 years, but also explicitly included in-play video action clips and short-form highlights on the BBC Sport website and app.
Imagen's Head of Sport says: “Sports fans across the board are keen to supplement live viewing with on-demand content, and cricket in particular fits this trend very neatly. However, the commercial value of clips and easily-digestible, easily shared short-form video is exponentially rising for all sports rights holders.”
The touchdown opportunity for rights holders
NFL’s RedZone channel is another example of the evolution of short-form content as a valuable asset in its own right. The easily-shared short content is amplified on social channels. This creates a compelling environment for sports fans to consume and actively engage with their teams and peers.
As Imagen’s expert explains: “We’ve seen an increased focus from customers using the Imagen platform to generate this type of short and convenient content. Indeed, short-form is one of Imagen’s core strengths. There is a huge opportunity for leagues, sports broadcasters and rights holders to create content from live sporting events that capitalises on this growth. But, crucially, it is a complementary opportunity that does not directly cannibalise existing live revenues.”
Technology offers smart solutions
The downside of rising consumer demand for short-form is a corresponding rise in piracy. There is already an active piracy market for this type of short-form content, ranging from illegally recorded clips shared on social media to more organised operations. But, just as music streaming services converted millions of illegal P2P streamers to subscribers, so video rights owners stand to gain by providing easy-to-access, short-form content in a friction-free format.
Technology is part of the puzzle. Imagen’s powerful search and meta-tagging features enable customers to locate and package short-form content almost in real-time and far more quickly than with traditional media library platforms. This ensures that rights holders can capitalise on their content before pirates damage the opportunity.
Scaling success is key
WTA Media – a partnership between the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and global sports media company, DAZN – already provides supporting content for their live feeds. In WTA Media’s case, it provides the latest idents, player profiles and interviews in a near-live, media centre format. This enables partners across the world to build high-quality programming in their territories.
ATP Media, the global sales, production and distribution arm of the ATP Tour (the elite, worldwide men’s professional tennis circuit) has also seen significant short-form benefits in this area. The company was able to expand the volume of assets available to partners from 100 per tournament to 300. By using clipping tools within the Imagen platform, in-house teams have been able to create in-match clips on the fly for social media and marketing purposes.
Finally, ATP Media’s vast 150TB trove of semi-final and final content (stretching back to the 1990s) has been made searchable and usable for in-house teams and partners alike. This archive content is particularly important for sports rights owners with a long heritage, such as the ATP Tour.
Limitless future opportunities
The fact that consumers are already deeply entrenched in on-demand viewing on multiple devices, and actively engaged by sporting clips on social media is not a mere flash in the pan.
As faster home and mobile internet rolls out, and UHD-capable devices become more widely available, the expectation of immediate delivery of short-form content will only increase. But for rights owners that have their short-form A-game ready, there’s a $4.9 billion opportunity up for grabs over the next five years.
Interested to find out more? See how modern viewing habits are changing and how this is changing the media landscape. Read our exclusive report: ‘Switched on Superfans’.