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Boosting fan engagement and interaction during the summer of sport

With the Opening Ceremony of the 2020 Olympic Games just days away, Vualto's Femke Schurer looks at how broadcasters can mimic a seamless linear production using their VoD assets and software

The magic of being part of a crowd was not possible for much of last year, but luckily, the restrictions have started to lift in time for the 2021 summer of sports. Some fans will finally be able to witness their favourite athletes and stars in action this season, but some will again miss out. 

UEFA Euro 2020 managed to welcome home fans at a reduced capacity, and more than 60,000 spectators were able to attend the semi-finals and final at Wembley Stadium.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games won’t be so lucky, with fans unable to attend any of the events.

Broadcasters are under increasing pressure to provide memorable experiences for viewers at home, utilising the latest technologies to facilitate the highest quality real-time streams in HD and 4K to expectant viewers. However, for next-level fan engagement, live-to-VoD clipping capabilities can bring viewers closer to these large-scale events, and even facilitate interaction between fans.

Reaching viewers at home

Even the biggest sporting events don’t last forever, however, and for the blink-and-you’ll-miss it moments, bespoke VoD highlight reels offer viewers a way to relive them. 2021 could be the year of a new world record in the 100m sprint or an underdog win gold at the Olympics.

This is where clipping software can be a useful tool for broadcasters, allowing for frame-accurate clips to be cut and stitched in real-time to enable viewers to immediately go back to watch a key moment. With sporting events being defined by time-sensitivity, consumers who are streaming events will still expect to have real-time access to those key moments, and by enabling that, broadcasters will be able to keep fans on top of the action as it changes. Multiple clips can even be cut and stitched together into a larger highlight reel for fans to consume all the key points of action during a sports event.

With 80 per cent of viewers saying that they use a computer or smartphone to check key facts and figures during an event, broadcasters need to keep pace with ever-evolving viewing habits and heightened expectations. They can now integrate these same insights into their live and VoD clips using metadata, providing data on a certain football player’s number of passes in a European Championships game or the top three performing athletes in the pole vault event at the Olympics. 

Boosting fan engagement online

Many fans find themselves missing out on the camaraderie and shared experience as they have to follow their favourite sports from their living rooms.

By syndicating clips on social media platforms for immediate publishing, broadcasters can ensure that they are able to reach these fans and create online conversation and engagement as a result. To ensure that audiences in different countries don’t feel left out and are reached too, clipped assets can also be supported with a variety of language options, meaning that it doesn’t become a barrier to global engagement. 

With regards to the key moments, it doesn’t even need to be video content that’s shared on social media platforms. JPEGs and GIFs can be instantaneously clipped and posted on social media platforms, showing key penalties in a dramatic penalty shootout for example, while even allowing the end user to share their own clips. Fan engagement on social media platforms could lead them back to the live feed of the event and increase viewership. Broadcasters are then able to enhance the value of their streams further and capitalise on the monetisation opportunities available, including ad insertion and further protect their valuable content with integrated DRM capabilities.

Supporting the summer of sport

The high-profile sporting events this summer will undoubtedly look a little different. Fans who would usually attend aren’t able to do so or feel understandably hesitant about making trips to busy stadiums. Broadcasters, however, can still bring the unique experience of major sporting events to the homes of viewers by utilising video clipping capabilities. They can ensure clips of key moments are instantaneously available via the streaming feed and social media platforms, featuring key stats to help inform the keen statisticians among the fans.

Equally vital is the ability for clipped assets to be shared on social media and facilitate engagement between fellow fans online. The year 2020 was difficult not only for the sports fans but for the entire nation. With events such as the Olympics commonly bringing nations together, broadcasters are presented with the perfect opportunity this summer to facilitate connections between fans in a safe way, via utilisation of seamless linear production using VoD assets and software, as countries across the globe slowly work their way towards the new normal.