There have been some major developments in the broadcasting chain over the last decade. Advancements in technology and connectivity have made it easier for more sports to be seen globally. But after being starved of sports content throughout the pandemic, fans have been craving live events more than ever. Although mainstream sport continues to receive more coverage, tier 2 and 3 sports are seeing fanbases increase.
There are still barriers to overcome to successfully expand the selection of sport on offer to viewers – but it’s clear that the interest is there. Let’s look at some key areas that can help to drive growth for tier 2 and 3.
Exposure to alternative sports content often sparks appreciation, which in turn drives the demand for more content. Major events, such as the Olympics, bring a huge range of sports into the limelight. For audiences that are used to the same tier 1 sports dominating their screens week in and week out, the variety on offer is a refreshing change. Watching a table tennis match being played in a highly competitive environment or developing an appreciation for the artistry of synchronised swimming can offer a new perspective for viewers at home. It is therefore crucial, for tier 2 and 3 sports to maintain this interest after high-profile events are over.
While the Olympics may not make athletes of us all – following the 2016 event, the number of people participating in sport only increased by 1.3% – maintaining the audience engagement built up throughout major tournaments is a very real possibility. The demand for continuous sports content is there, a recent study found that 60% of fans would feel more engaged with their favourite teams if they had a year-round experience. So, the key takeaway is that tier 2 and 3 sports need to stay front of mind wherever possible, but in order to do that, they need buy-in from broadcasters.
Traditional methods of content delivery, such as satellite and fibre, have been the go-to choices for decades. This means that getting broadcasters to break long-established habits can be difficult – but not impossible. Next-gen broadcasting solutions like IP delivery can offer tier 2 and 3 sports a cost-effective route to securing buy-in from broadcasters and ultimately get more content to fans.
Tier 2 and tier 3 sports are often left in the shadow of mainstream sports organisations, despite the huge opportunities that they bring. Showing a wider range of sports events would enable broadcasters to serve ready-made fanbases, while also attracting new audiences. Getting broadcasters to acknowledge the rising demand and potential reach of tier 2 and 3 sports and commit to showcasing more variety will set them apart from competitors.
Innovations in technology means that tier 2 and 3 sports now have more opportunities to share screen time with mainstream ones. IP delivery removes the obstacles to exposure that many niche sports have struggled to overcome. Satellite and fibre delivery methods are cost prohibitive for many smaller organisations and offer little flexibility. In contrast, with IP’s expand on demand environments there is no need to overbook capacity and users can respond quickly to last minute scheduling changes. This means organisations only pay for what they need, when they need it, allowing them to respond with more agility to changing circumstances.
Delivering to New Regions
Broadcasters in new regions are more likely to consider adopting alternative delivery methods if there is a proven demand for that content. This is a bit of a chicken and egg situation. While there may be a global uptick in demand for tier 2 and 3 sports content, it is difficult to gauge how successful a launch in a specific territory will be without trying it. What we do know, however, is that there are already existing and potential fan bases out there. One thing we have learnt about consumer supply and demand over the last few years is that audiences will go where the content is.
IP broadcasting offers a cost-effective solution for moving video content around the world. Clubs and federations can share more of their live content and grow the community of fans interacting with it. But they can also share a wider variety of content. With the cost of multiple feeds significantly lower than traditional broadcasting methods, reaching multiple regions, in multiple languages, becomes much more attainable. The cost-effectiveness of IP also opens up opportunities for supplementary footage to be leveraged, with formats such as documentaries, interviews and bite-sized highlight clips used to attract a growing Gen Z audience that are keen to see more from behind the scenes.
Although IP has yet to be adopted at the same scale as its satellite and fibre counterparts, there is a growing awareness of its capabilities. The technology exists to enable tier 2 and 3 sports organisations to reach, grow and engage global audiences. It is time to level the playing field.