The Olympics as a truly interactive TV experience

Monday, November 12, 2012

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Traditional program guides are weak for events like the Olympics and consumers needs rely on web sites and newspapers to get information..
Live sports drive a significant part of the TV industry. Sports provide an immersive entertainment experience and with the increased interactive capabilities on various devices, broadcasters and other rights holders create a positive cycle around the events, which drive viewership and corresponding revenues.

Michael Lantz, CEO, Accedo Broadband looks at the recent Olympics event in London which for the first time saw full usage of the powers of OTT TV devices in a number of places around the world. 


A truly global event

The Olympics is one of the few truly global sports events. With a plethora of sports and athletes from all over the world, the event truly has something for everyone. In addition, the attraction of the Olympics is also a story about the athletes themselves, almost like reality TV. With the exposure of smaller sports, viewers get insights in the lives, the happiness and the disappointment of people they can relate to. Complementing content, such as interviews and specials of athletes are increasingly important to drive usage of the core content. In addition there are multiple venues, which can tell stories, unknown sports that require explaining and highlights from previous Olympics to show. There is no sports event on the planet that offers the sheer volume of content that is possible to target so many consumers with.

The challenges with the Olympics

However, the mass of content available also introduces a number of challenges. First of all, it is costly to distribute all content to all consumers. Prioritisations have to be made to cover the most popular sports. Secondly, discoverability is challenging. It is difficult for consumers to find events they’re interested in and even more difficult to learn about events they might like if they learned more about them. Traditional program guides are weak for events like this, and consumers needs rely on web sites and newspapers to get information. Finally, even though the Olympics is global, time differences between the host city and the viewer is a challenge to get the full value of the event. Clearly, there are opportunities to improve the consumer experience.

Smart TV offers interactive possibilities on the big screen

Smart TV is a TV device that can be connected to the Internet and contains some sort of application interface. Most TV manufacturers like Samsung, LG or Panasonic offer such devices and over the past 2 years they have grown significantly to about 10% of the total TV population using apps on a regular basis, with a continued rapid growth expected over the coming years. Smart TV offers possibilities for both live and on demand TV, and via the interactive possibilities, it is possible to implement and deploy an attractive branded user experience in which to navigate and discover such content. 

Case study: Foxtel

Foxtel is the leading pay-TV operator in Australia. They acquired rights for the Olympics to provide value for their subscribers in the Australian market. By launching OTT applications for the Olympics they were able to promote and offer an attractive way for consumers who weren’t Foxtel subscribers to sign up and get access to the content. Foxtel provided the content through a number of devices, including Smart TVs, where the live videos could be watched on the big screen. The content can be navigable via a Foxtel-specific interactive EPG, which provided additional information about all the live channels. 

Cas study: Terra

Terra is one of the leading media companies in Latin America. Terra had the rights for the London Olympics in Brazil and wanted to provide an attractive service to consumers over Smart TVs. In addition to live streaming of the events, Terra also provided a very popular curated on demand service. Due to the time zone difference, most live events happened in the middle of the day, while people were still at work. Highlights from all the sports were provided in a categorised on demand menu, to allow consumers to catch up on all content when they came home. In addition to the browsing of content via the menu system, Terra also offered the possibility to share the content to friends over social networks. This further drove uptake and usage, especially of niche sports.

Sports will be a key driver of TV apps

Like movies, modern sports are best enjoyed together with friends and family on the best screen in the home, the TV. In addition to this, sports also drive an information need with stats, player information, interviews and analysis, which can be offered through interactivity during or surrounding the events. The innovation opportunities are endless!

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