Is video a missed opportunity for the sports Industry?

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The latest in these popular sessions organised by the UK Sports Network debated the topic of video and how it is being utilised in the sports industry. Over the last decade we have seen significant changes to the use of video online, almost all professional sports clubs have dedicated channels featuring player interviews, match highlights and archive footage. The England vs. Ukraine international game back in 2009 was streamed exclusively online, the first time an England game was viewable only over the internet and not by a traditional broadcaster. Most major international events now feature the ability to stream online, for the 2012 Olympics the bbc has 24 live streams; allowing users unparalleled access to the games.

Twitter launched Vine, an application allowing users to create videos lasting just 6 seconds in length. The short video duration generates difficulties for brands and requires planning and thought to edit a truly effective clip. Vine is still relatively new and has only just launched on Android, a move which should give the application a significant boost in user numbers. Some of the best vines I have seen are below, please let me know any of your favourites vines by commenting on this blog or you can tweet me @TomScott1 or @Umpf

Google hangouts are another relatively new video opportunity. Originally only available as part of the Google+ social network, they are now being launched as an individual application. The key selling point of hangouts is the opportunity to put key figures and sports stars in a interactive environment with a key audience. Team GB used these to great effect during the Olympics, hosting Q&A sessions with key ambassadors and athletes. There is a huge scope for professional sports clubs to own an area previously dominated by major sports broadcasters. With Google hangouts sports stars can be put in front of fans with minimal organisation and maximum access by any organisation with the know how and an internet connection.

YouTube’s live broadcast functionality is extremely similar to Google Hangouts and is also starting to become a prominent platform for the streaming of large scale events. Red Bull’s Stratos stunt tested live online broadcasting to its limits reaching over 8 million people. The soft drinks giant showed that it is possible to use YouTube as a broadcast mechanism to push a feed to millions of individuals simultaneously and I highly doubt this will be the last time we see them utilise it. If, somehow you didn’t see Stratos, check out the video below.

BigBalls Films– Copa90

The first talk in the session was delivered by Richard Welsh, Creative Director of BigBalls Films & Copa90video. Big Balls Films is a production company set up in 2005, incidentally this is the same year YouTube was launched.  Disgruntled by the decline in available work in their respected fields, the three founders came to a decision that online video sites such as YouTube represented a big opportunity for film-makers.

Whilst BigBalls Films do not focus entirely on sports content for the purpose of this event. Richard highlighted their Copa90 channel and the shows that are produced under the Copa90 label. The channel has rapidly become one of the most active football communities on YouTube in terms of followers with almost 300,00 subscribers.

Richard explained how the dynamic of sports video creation had changed because of sites like YouTube. A decade ago in order to have any impact in this field you almost certainly needed to purchase rights to broadcast live games and highlights which would give your show the draw to bring the audience to you. This all changed when channels could be built around original content with no need for rights, simply put, the audience is already out there and accessible.

The talk moved on to content creation and audience development, one of Copa90’s biggest success stories has been Euro fan, a series of videos featuring the host Tom Deacon visiting European football destinations and absorbing local club culture. The key question for Copa90 was where is the audience and how do they spread the videos tactically, Richard went on to explain that they can now guarantee an audience just through research and this gives them the knowledge of where to push their content.

Copa90 have big plans and are aiming to hit 4 million subscribers by World Cup 2014, that is a big target so it will be interesting to see how they develop their offering over the next 12 months to achieve this.

You can see Richards full talk in the video below.

Next up was Richard Caudle from live application developer Pusher – Richards talk was short and centred on a live demonstration of reactive content. The audience was shown a short video featuring some of the best goals from the 2012/13 Premier League season. We were subsequently asked to vote for our favourite using a link displayed on screen. The voting system worked perfectly and the talk provided food for thought on how applications like this could be applied, personally I think there is huge scope to run votes like this on second screen applications. On match days why not have a link up on digital screens in the ground and allow fans to vote then and there for their man of the match?

The evening was capped off with a panel session from well know figures working in Digital Sport currently:

Dan McLaren – Pulse/ UKSN
Mark Coyle – Head of Digital Production, BT Sport
Denis Crushell – Senior Director (Sports), YouTube EMEA
Tom Hines – Digital Content Strategist, The Rugby Football Union

Questions for the panel were submitted from the audience and via Twitter. Content ownership rights were discussed heavily as well as the future success and development of second screen applications. Personally I am a huge advocate of second screen applications such as Squawka  and was surprised to hear the panel in unanimous agreement that these style applications will be fazed out by smart TVs. The smart TV ability to apply a second screens style format on the first screen is in their opinion has greater potential than keeping second screen contents on mobile devices. Whilst I understand the theory behind that, I can’t see people moving away from using tablets, phones and laptops whilst watching televised sport and I also have reservations about the willingness of viewers to have a second screen application interrupting the image they see on the screen.

You can watch the whole panel session in the video below.