FEED Xtreme Sept/Oct 2022 - Web

Exploring the future of media technology


Helping you build winning sports content




EDITOR IN CHIEF Neal Romanek +44 (0) 1223 492246 nealromanek@bright-publishing.com




SUB EDITOR Harriet Williams

CONTRIBUTORS Ross Biddiscombe, Fergal Ringrose, Adrian Pennington


SALES DIRECTOR Sam Scott-Smith +44 (0) 1223 499457 samscott-smith@bright-publishing.com

It’s all about the fans f EED:Xtreme is off and running! In our second bimonthly issue, we’re looking at the most important making the most of data mining, to learn who fans are and what they’re willing to pay for. We talk to the company’s co-founder and president, Josh Walker, about what audiences really want. What sports content has, over all


+44 (0) 1223 499462 +44 (0) 7376 665779 emmastevens@bright-publishing.com





participant in any sports organisation – the fan! A victory lap taken in a quiet, empty stadium – as athletes have learnt over the past couple of years – is just, well... wrong. We examine how teams are engaging with people – on and off the pitch – using social media and digital platforms. To be a successful athlete now, you require not only skill, training and drive, but a killer Instagram account. Plus, NFTs are keeping supporters hooked, with digital tokens taking up the mantle of 20th-century trading cards. Teams and athletes need to work extra hard to build and maintain relationships, and organisations like Sports Innovation Lab are

MANAGING DIRECTORS Andy Brogden & Matt Pluck

competing media, is grounding in real life – participants in an actual, physical space contesting over an unpredictable outcome. Even though people may be looking at their phones every five minutes, the stadium is the home of the sports fan. We talk to design experts about how to keep crowds safe and under control. Of course, this issue is full of Xtreme ’s usual coverage – including case studies in niche sports, live streaming and esports news, plus profiles on the latest tech.

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FAN ENGAGEMENT FOCUS 20  SOCIAL MEDIA While they’re winning trophies, athletes have to become influencers, too 30  ONE ON ONE Josh Walker of Sports Innovation Lab can help find out who your fans really are 46  NFTS Blockchain has replaced bubblegum in a new era of collectibles 64  STADIUMS Spectators are being served by innovative tech and classic stadium designs Livestreaming Workshop 28  ESKOOTR CHAMPIONSHIP Meet the latest racing craze intent on building a loyal fan base 40  IDITAROD TRAIL SLED DOG RACE Extreme broadcasting makes this event a global spectacle 54  BEACH SOCCER All the fun of sand and sun, delivered with cloud computing Main events 06  SPORTS REPORTER What’s new in creative ideas and technology for sports content? 16  TEAMWORK The Women’s Euros and Women in Sport level the playing field 58  ESPORTS ROUND-UP Top broadcast news from the world of professional gaming 76  TECH CASE STUDY Discover how to build a better sports app for smart TVs 80  CALENDAR What’s on the horizon in the world of sports – and FEED:Xtreme ! contents









Marvels at the Maccabiah Games The Maccabiah Games can proudly boast being the largest, as well as the longest- running, Jewish sports event, with free tickets for fans, families and communities. SPORTS REPORTER What you nee d to know abo ut the wide wo rld of sports te chnology

This year, AI-automated sports video and analytics solutions provider Pixellot paired up with the Maccabi World Union to stream hundreds of games and matches. Hosted in Israel between 12 and 26 July 2022, the spellbinding opening ceremony took place at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem for over 30,000 fans. The ceremonial torch was kindled by Israeli Olympic medallists, Linoy Ashram and Artem Dolgopyat, with the event seeing 10,000 athletes from over 60 countries compete in dozens of sports. Despite being founded in 1932, it has had very little coverage in the past – but this has now changed irrevocably. “Pixellot technology is a game-changer for the visibility and engagement of families and communities of the athletes competing in the Maccabiah Games,” said Maccabiah chairman and former Israeli Olympic medallist Arik Zeevi. A scalable solution like Pixellot’s was well up to the task. In total, it covered the entire 14-day tournament, with 42 sports in 30 different venues, within three separate cities in Israel. “It is also instrumental in fulfilling our mission to facilitate a worldwide sports competition of young Jewish athletes and strengthening their connection to Israel and the Jewish people,” enthused Zeevi.

ON THE MAP The Maccabiah Games enjoyed unparalleled coverage, with a huge variety of sports – including beach volleyball and football, fencing, judo, karate, bouldering and so much more




LIFETIME OF MEMORIES With hundreds of dancers and pyrotechnics, the opening ceremony (top) was a fitting welcome to athletes and fans






Painting the picture

telestration can automatically calibrate the dimensions of the pitch, then begin creating perspective-accurate 3D telestration effects right away. Paint’s new AI-enabled player-tracking algorithm can automatically determine the path of players, so operators can bind tracked effects such as spotlights and cursors. Users trigger these features with a single button push in the UI, or set them to be performed automatically while clips are imported into the system. “AI-enabled tools and features in 9.3 are the first of much more to come!” Garcia exclaimed.

Chyron’s Paint 9.3 is its first celebrated, AI-enhanced illustrated analysis and replay tool for live sports. New AI integrations include automatic pitch calibration in football, with automatic player tracking across American football. “Paint 9.3 represents an industry-first application of AI algorithms to sports replay and telestration, and we're building great new features and capabilities on the power of these new enhancements,” said Chyron CEO Ariel Garcia. Due to its AI-enabled calibration algorithm, an operator with a clip loaded for

Defying Gravity June saw the partnering of Gravity Media and Mana Sports and Entertainment Group, to capture four superstars of endurance sport. The two men – Kristian Blummenfelt and Joe Skipper – and two women – Nicola Spirig and Kat Matthews – went head-to-head in a triathlon, breaking both the seven- and eight-hour marks for a full-distance event. Showcasing Gravity Media’s technical innovation, a remote IP production switched in Sydney, with 16 cameras beaming in from the other side of the world, at the Lausitzring race track in Brandenburg. The broadcast included nine-and-a-half hours of live racing, bookended by pre-show and post-show content, featuring a host of special guests, pre- recorded content and technical analysis. “Gravity Media has a great reputation globally for not only providing complex technical solutions, but for our highly credentialed and talented production team. The Sub7 and Sub8 are examples of cost-effective, full-turnkey production,” said director of production & content at Gravity Media Australia, Saul Shtein. The nine-hour event streamed live on the Pho3nix Foundation YouTube channel, with a peak of 28,880 concurrent viewers. With 202,300 logged views after 24 hours, the live stream is projected to exceed a quarter of a million views over the next week.

Mobilising sports teams

years ago – and we’re proud that they still come to us for the most advanced solutions for their fleet,” said Cobalt senior VP of worldwide sales and marketing, Suzana Brady. Since launching in May, Supershooter 6 has been deployed to support live production of the NHL playoffs, and the women’s and men’s College World Series. “Those events must be flawlessly delivered for an exceptional viewer experience,” said Brady.

NEP has rolled out its Supershooter 6, which is the newest member of its mobile units fleet – possessing 12 frames of Cobalt Digital’s signal processing, conversion and distribution gear onboard. IP- powered and equipped with 3G, 1080p, HDR and 4K, the next-gen mobile unit has the tools necessary to support the demanding elements of live broadcast. “NEP was Cobalt’s first customer when the company launched 25




Whispers of a new hub

A key deliverable is a magazine show series, covering snappy turnaround highlights of midweek events by a challenging Friday morning deadline. The Collectv has built a system comprising six dedicated edit suites, running Adobe Premiere Pro along with one audio suite/VO – with a remote working integration handled by Editshare. “It’s provided us with a great space to deliver Whisper’s ambitious and entertaining sports output,” said director of production at Whisper, Bethan Evans.

Sports and unscripted production company Whisper was selected by broadcast workflows consultancy, The Collectv, to design the facilities in its new broadcast and production hub. Installed on a dedicated floor of Whisper HQ in Kew, the solution was delivered in a time frame of seven weeks. “We had to react and move fast many times during the build,” said Collectv project manager Nick Long. “It was vital that we were there on the ground as the walls were going up, so we could identify any issues.”

Viva Vitality!

A day at the races Earlier this year saw the annual Randox Grand National at Aintree. Boasting three days of high- level jump racing, the event is known as one of the world’s biggest steeplechases. Singular.live and Reality Check Systems (RCS) teamed up to power the coverage on the Racing Post YouTube Channel. On top of this, Coral’s evening show In The Know previewed the next day’s races, while breakfast show Good Morning Aintree provided viewers with the early news. All three of these shows used graphics built in Singular.live, with RCS offering a Singular.live composition and RCS Cobb control application, allowing users to call up templates and populate them with live data. David Peacock, senior project manager at RCS, believes the collaboration with Spotlight Sports Group is the shape of things to come, in terms of creation of innovative programming on YouTube and other platforms. “There is understandably a drive to maximise the amount of content created in the glow of major sporting events, especially online,” Peacock said. “But it's crucial for producers and sponsors that increases in quantity don’t impact quality."

the management of those feeds back to Gravity Media. Its remote production gallery received the feeds and handled the production – commentary, graphics and anything else required – before distributing to London Marathon’s YouTube channel and the BBC Red Button service. Ryan Goad, head of communications at London Marathon Events, said: “The coverage achieved at the Vitality London 10,000 was excellent. The motorbike-based footage was crystal clear and helped bring to life a fantastic collection of elite races, as well as give a real sense of the varying emotions of the thousands of mass-participation runners that took part in the event.”

UK-based production company Over Exposed turned to LiveU for this year’s Vitality London 10K run, to provide 5G remote production coverage of the event. Over Exposed began using LiveU eight years ago and has continued to expand, moving from small streaming projects through large-scale streaming events to broadcast. The production company is known for remote productions and outside broadcast. It owns four units and expanded this to six to create the dynamic mobile coverage of this event. Over Exposed deployed a mix of LU300 and multicam LU800 units. It provided the on-site technical facilities, acquisition of the feeds via LiveU, and then






Daring to Døds

‘Dødsing’, otherwise known as ‘death diving’, recently broke new barriers in broadcast, becoming the first beta user of Viz Now – a new automated deployment solution for cloud-based live productions. Not yet on the market, Viz Now was beta tested by the International Døds Federation, a Norway-based organisation that promotes the unique sport of death diving. Participants hurl themselves from a 10m-high platform, while performing a variety of stunts.

ROSS GOes Back to the 80s

Ross’ Rocket Surgery Creative Services and its clients won two Telly Awards, taking its tally to a remarkable 28 since 2020. The Bally’s Fight Night production was unique in that it mimicked a famous eighties street-fighting console game, by having the fighters wear sensors that measured the frequency and velocity of the strikes.

Fantastic Futsal

Indonesian streaming company, UseeTV, partnered up with TVU Networks last month, utilising TVU One mobile transmitters and TVU remote production solutions to stream live coverage of futsal. First introduced into the country in 2001, futsal has since gained popularity from its strong emphasis on creative improvisation – not commonly seen in mainstream sports. Implementing TVU Networks’ technology meant fans who couldn’t attend in person could stream from home on various channels.




G'day AR! A tri-partnership has been formed between Telstra, Google and Accenture, to develop a 5G-powered augmented reality wayfinding experience at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium. Intended to superimpose digital information onto a real- world environment, the AR tech was first showcased at the Google I/O developer conference. The AR wayfinding experience pioneers the latest of Telstra’s 5G developments, then delivers onto Google Cloud. Google Trekker devices were used in the development of the experience, to create a metric model of Marvel Stadium that represents the appearance and position of the physical

3D world. GPS readings and environment scans were then matched with 360° images, using the ARCore Geospatial API. “We are excited by the potential of this augmented reality experience and how our leadership in 5G can accelerate growth and value creation in other industries and settings – such as hospitals, shopping centres and airports – to improve customer experience,” said Telstra group executive for product and technology, Kim Krogh Andersen. Telstra is working with the AFL and Marvel Stadium to launch ahead of next year’s footy season.





Show special

September marks the return of IBC for the first time in three years. We’ve got you covered on who to seek out

a fter a three-year wait, the doors of the RAI in Amsterdam finally fling open, allowing floods of exhibitors from around the globe to take to its show floors once more. Bursting at the seams with conferences, exhibitors and speakers, it’s shaping up to return with a bang. But it’s been so long since the last outing, where on earth do you start when navigating one of the industry’s biggest trade shows? That’s where we step in. We’ve picked out the ones to watch, so you don’t have to. THE SUITE SPOT The Dalet crew are out in full force, with its core showcase consisting of Dalet Flex and Dalet Unified News Operations. Flex is a cloud-native logistics solution, deployed by media-rich organisations in order to produce, manage, distribute and monetise content. Featuring web-based collaborative tools, this platform is proven to reduce direct costs by up to 70%. The company boasts Dalet Flex for teams, as well as enterprises. Unified News Operations are uniquely positioned to solve pain points of modern, end-to-end workflows. This involves planning, collaboration, remote editing

and digital news production. Dalet Pyramid helps bring newsrooms into this new era. As well as those mentioned, the AmberFin media processing solution is also on display, plus CubeNG and a host of others. Dalet is exhibiting its wares at stand 1.A47. ENTERING NEW DIMENSIONS Brainstorm, manufacturer of 3D graphics and virtual studio solutions, unveils Suite 5.1 – the latest version of its flagship products InfinitySet, Aston and eStudio. Suite 5.1 is additionally compatible with Unreal Engine 5 (UE5). On top of this, Brainstorm is introducing Edison 5.1 – the upgrade of the company’s application for immersive live presentations, essentially usable as a virtual studio in a box. Taking advantage of all the new features of UE5, Brainstorm features full integration of objects created in InfinitySet or Aston within the UE environment – and vice versa – in turn providing unmatched flexibility for content creation. Edison 5.1 includes additional XR features and exploits the brand-new EdisonGo app, introduced at IBC. This app can use an iPhone or iPad to provide video and tracking information to Edison Pro, allowing for the creation and management of immersive, live AR presentations. Be sure to make your way over to stand 7.B01 to learn more. POWERED BY AI Magnifi by VideoVerse is exhibiting at this year’s event. This software works to serve enterprises across numerous industries, including OTT players, broadcasters, sports clubs and leagues. A groundbreaking, cloud-agnostic platform driven by AI and machine

MULTISCREEN MADNESS NativeWaves is creating second-screen experiences for football fans



Show special

IBC Bites

Terrific telecasting

Using actual live streams of major international sporting events, SSIMWAVE is proving that its products can give streaming providers quality insights and competitive comparisons. These help make strategic decisions, to manage and optimise subscriber satisfaction and engagement. Check them out at 1.B10! Sports broadcasters and streaming services who want to enhance the viewing experience for cricket and American football fans should be sure to visit booth 5.D54 at IBC 2022. Austrian solutions EXP experiences. Already available for football and motor sports audiences, NativeWaves EXP gives viewers the opportunity to dive deeper into the action, by exploring a wealth of additional content at their own leisure. provider NativeWaves is presenting its latest Viaccess-Orca shows how it is working towards sustainable technology that will support TV services for the long run. The impressive, multiplatform VO Secure Video Player is helping pay-TV operators and content providers offer a personalised experience to end users. Its content protection and anti-piracy services are also on display. Find Viaccess-Orca at stand 1.A51. Accessible video New EXPeriences





Show special

“Completely scalable to meet any needs – regardless of size – Magnifi is not only improving the efficiency of the production process out of sight, but opening the door to monetisation opportunities” Findings are presented during the conference programme and in the Showcase Theatre, by a team of Omdia analysts led by Rob Gallagher. Also included are Maria Rua Aguete, senior research director, visual entertainment; Dan Simmons, research director, media delivery; and Matthew Bailey, principal analyst, advertising. Radical research Omdia was designated as the official research partner for IBC, allowing this year’s conference delegates access to its exclusive report: ‘The advertising revolution: how CTV, FAST and AVOD are reshaping the TV and video landscape’.

IBC Show at the RAI Amsterdam, highlighting solutions for on-site, remote and hybrid workflows. The latest product innovation from Clear-Com, Arcadia Central Station, is an intercom powerhouse. It combines the award-winning FreeSpeak digital wireless systems, Encore analogue party line, HelixNet digital party line and third-party Dante connectivity – boasting a myriad of features within its sleek 1RU unit. Also highlighted are established market solutions for remote and hybrid broadcast production. Station-IC virtual desktop client, Agent-IC mobile app, LQ Series IP interfaces and the Eclipse HX digital matrix intercom system all make appearances. In addition to this, Clear-Com debuts a new product at this year’s IBC Show. Visit the stand – 10.D29 – for more information. STUNNING STORAGE Join Seagate Technology at IBC stand 7.B05, to discover the tech giant’s full portfolio of storage solutions for content creation, editing and distribution. Encounter Seagate Lyve Cloud: its scalable, S3-compatible storage as a service for mass data. Or take control of data workflows in private-, public- or hybrid-cloud environments using Seagate Lyve Mobile. There’s also Lacie, a premium brand from the business with a comprehensive line-up of options. Finally, whether you prefer network attached or direct attached

learning, Magnifi enables production of social-ready micro-content at both speed and scale. With many in the broadcasting space turning to AI technology for its ability to automate routine workflows, Magnifi’s AI-powered editing and content distribution is transforming highlight-reel creation. By meta-tagging videos and generating bite-size clips based on predetermined parameters, Magnifi auto-resizes and publishes them on multiple social media platforms, with customised graphics and overlays. Its mobile-first approach allows enterprises to scale content for any platform or social media channel with the click of a button, increasing reach, engagement and ROI. Completely scalable to meet any needs – regardless of size – Magnifi is not only improving the efficiency of the production process out of sight, but opening the door to monetisation opportunities for video rights holders. Make sure to check them out at booth 5.F12. A DAY AT THE ARCADIA Clear-Com is showcasing its acclaimed broadcast production intercom technology at this year’s

storage, Seagate has you covered with IronWolf drives for NAS. INSPIRING INNOVATION Ateme also returns to Amsterdam this year, showcasing end-to-end solutions for video delivery – from contribution all the way to the CDN. That’s before we mention its vast monetisation capabilities, including dynamic ad insertion and 5G. The company is showcasing its high-efficiency fixed wireless access, alongside video delivery for stadiums and in-car entertainment over 5G. Make your way to stand 1.D71 for a display of its full suite.

BACK ON THE BIKE RAI Amsterdam is the stunning location for this year’s IBC Show (above)

AR YOU READY? Brainstorm’s brilliant 3D graphics applications are a real triumph (left)



Show special

Honouring excellence

Television quickly followed radio in the BBC timeline, with experimental broadcasts in 1929 and the first public services in 1935. More recently, BBC iPlayer was launched in 2007 – a powerful, pioneering streaming service providing access to huge amounts of content. In a happy coincidence, the BBC’s first home in Savoy Place was provided by what is now known as the Institution of Engineering and Technology – and one of IBC’s owners.

IBC has announced that its most prestigious award, the IBC 2022 International Honour for Excellence, is to be presented to the BBC as part of its centenary celebrations. The world’s first public broadcaster went on air in 1922, and BBC 100 is a celebration of everything that’s come since. IBC has stated its desire to recognise the moment that sparked the whole content and technology industry it serves.






HEAR THEM ROAR England celebrated its first major international trophy in women’s football, after a thrilling 2-1 win over long-standing rivals Germany




The year 2022 has seen an outstanding array of events, but for us the Women’s Euros wiped the floor with everything else. Record-breaking and game-changing, the excitement was in part Scoring equality goals

fuelled by a digital storm //// WORDS BY VERITY BUTLER ////

T he dazzling success of England’s Lionesses at the 2022 Euros captured the nation’s hearts. Not only was it just the second international tournament England has ever won, but it also created the feeling that women’s football was forever changed. This was so much more than just winning a trophy. It signified an inarguable sense of validation, levelling out that exhausting debate over whether women’s sport is equally as important as men’s. Of course, many of us already knew the answer. But somewhat unsurprisingly, it took England’s women winning one of the biggest international football competitions to drive the point home – in the form of a big, glass Uefa trophy. Something integral to the buzz was the hot magma of eruptive social media, bubbling away in the online space. We saw an

incessant churning of TikToks, tweets and live streams to the nation. Be it from the players’ personal TikTok accounts or BBC Sport Twitter – through a variety of mediums, people were spreading the word. Triggering top trends and engaging every possible fan, it most importantly spread the word that the girls were in town, and that women’s football had finally smashed its way through an invisible glass stadium ceiling. KICKING OFF THE MOVEMENT Women in Sport is a charity founded in 1984, formed to make sure change is secured by deeply understanding the needs of women and girls at each life stage. With core missions of breaking down stubborn gender inequalities that still blatantly exist in the sports sector, it has seen first-hand the importance of social media and

“We saw an incessant churning of TikToks, tweets and live streams to the nation. Be it from players’ personal accounts or BBC Sport Twitter”






the online space in the eradication of gender inequality. “I don’t really have any background in sports and haven’t ever been a sporty person, but when I saw this opportunity, it was something I knew I wanted to be a part of,” says Women in Sport campaigns and communications officer, Shanika Flanore. “Especially as a woman of colour, we are at a greater disadvantage in so many ways. This compelled me to join, as I had experienced sexism in my previous roles.” Women in Sport was established by captain of the England women’s hockey team, Anita White, and former England lacrosse captain, Professor Celia Brackenridge OBE. “Our founders started the charity based on the frustration and discrimination they endured in their own sports – and sport as a whole. “Anita was part of the England hockey squad that won the Women’s Hockey World Cup in 1975 – and felt frustrated by the total lack of event coverage. This led her to becoming a key fighter for gender equality in sport.

COME TOGETHER The entire nation united to support the Lionesses

PROMO POWER Watch Hisense x WEURO #RememberThe Name spot

“Our founders started the charity based on the frustration they endured in their own sports – and sport as a whole”

“Co-founder Celia Brackenridge not only captained the GB lacrosse team, but was also inspired by the likes of tennis legend Billie Jean King, wanting to ensure that gender equality was at the forefront of the UK’s agenda,” says Flanore. A critical element to the charity’s mission is not only to think about changes specifically within sport, but how to use it as a wider tool for societal change. “With the buzz around the Women’s Euros, it has been a fantastic time for women’s sport to be public-facing – and we’ve seen a lot of conversation around how crucial it is. “Our core aim is centred on the belief that no one should miss out on the joy, life benefits and fulfilment that sport brings,” Flanore adds. KILLER CAMPAIGNING Women in Sport’s sector-leading insight is driving innovation, with programmes that provide impactful solutions to the tackling of gender inequalities, and campaigning that empowers more women and girls to be active. “A key message we wanted to spread during the Euros was the

importance of team sport,” describes Flanore. “We had the Hisense #RememberTheName campaign, as well as our work with Greene King pubs. They installed female football tables in all their venues. “We primarily used all the social media platforms to communicate our message – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. But a key thing was that the Lionesses told our story to everyone through their own social media, where they presented a team-wide element of confidence and resilience, which only worked to amplify our message.” According to statistics from Next Sports, the Uefa Women’s Euro 2022 social media content registered 1.34 billion total user impressions overall, as well as 14.3 million user engagements. Its top ten social media posts generated over 308.4 million user impressions – four times more than the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup top ten, for reference. Five of the top ten social posts (ranked by engagements) were published via England’s TikTok account. At the time of analysis, the most engaging post came before the final itself, featuring a Q&A with England striker Fran

A FITTING FINALE England v Germany was an enormous event, with a capacity crowd of 87,192 in attendance – a record for Euro finals of any gender. An estimated 17.5 million watched from home




Kirby, who answered pop-culture questions while doing keepy-ups. At the time of writing, that post had racked up more than 4.3 million video views. Social media took on a whole new meaning for the Women in Sport team, who had a few viral posts themselves during the tournament. “There was one post on LinkedIn in particular that went viral,” comments Flanore. “Off the top of my head, it had 45,000 likes, 1200 shares and a 15% increase to our followers. That specific post got just under two million impressions, which was phenomenal and we’re still wrapping our heads around it.”

“Because this has been such an amazing thing for women’s football, we want to make sure it’s not a forgotten moment in history”

INDOOR ACTION Greene King’s female table football initiative helped propel the sport’s popularity

THE LIONESS LEGACY As with every major sports

digital strategy involves working off that momentum, delivering into schools to keep young girls excited and inspired about new possibilities for their futures.” It’s clear that not only have the online and social stratospheres become tools to help develop your brand, they’ve also become powerful weapons for social change. For more on Women in Sport, head to womeninsport.org

event, the buzz and conversation surrounding it rises steadily, peaks, plateaus, then gently drops off in the following months. Flanore emphasises how Women in Sport won’t be letting that happen. “Because this has been such an amazing thing for women’s football, we want to make sure it’s not a forgotten moment in history. Our





Fan engagement

Leagues, teams and athletes are exploiting social media, to build fan engagement beyond broadcast //// WORDS BY ROSS BIDDISCOMBE ////



Fan engagement

O nce upon a time, iconic TV of Sports on ABC in the US were just about the only destinations for those seeking rare or unusual coverage. This could be inside a football dressing room or a peek into a Tour de France team workshop. Nowadays, this content has exploded. It’s highly innovative and is everywhere on social media, becoming staple viewing for fans. Federations, rights holders, teams, tournaments, clubs and especially athletes are posting both formal and informal short-form content to drive awareness, increase fan engagement and – of course – develop more revenue streams. An Ampere Analysis consumer tracker survey says nearly 90% of sports fans used social media platforms for video content in the sports shows like the BBC’s Football Focus or Wide World

first quarter of 2022. YouTube dominates the space with fan-made channels. They range from AFTV with 1.46 million Arsenal football fan subscribers, to Dude Perfect’s all-things-basketball brand, with viewing numbers up to 427 million. In an Ampere Analysis consumer study, nearly half of viewers use YouTube monthly for sports- related content. Facebook is a distant second (28% of fans), while Instagram comes in third with 21%. Ampere says fans go to YouTube for clips and highlights of live matches; Facebook to talk to each other; Instagram for getting closer





Fan engagement

to individual athletes; and Twitter is their destination for live scores and news. But whatever the platform or content provider, the ultimate objective is inevitably revenue. Even someone like new Chelsea owner Todd Boehly has plans for the football club to build personal brands for players, tapping into the power of European football’s four billion supporters. “How do we get more revenue for the players?” asked Boehly, just after the Chelsea purchase in May. He knows social content increases income for his team, keeping players happy with higher wages that can be boosted either directly or indirectly. For instance, rather than straight salaries, name, image and likeness (NIL) contracts for college sports stars in the US are providing millions of guaranteed dollars. These colleges are employing the power of social media to drive information to fans with increasing expertise. “Traditional sports have struggled to engage younger audiences, especially 18- to 24-year-olds”

Deals worth around $1m for 18-year-old football players are becoming common, so that the colleges can both promote the team and pay the star athlete who is the focus of the institution’s sports income streams. A HUMAN VOICE It’s a player-driven market everywhere. Alex O’Hagan, head of social and digital at IMG, says the

% of online sports fans using social video platforms



Q3 2015

Q1 2022

Source: Ampere Consumer Q1 2022



Fan engagement



Fan engagement

% of online sports fans using social media platforms monthly for sports video










Instagram Twitter

TikTok Twitch Source: Ampere Sports Consumer Q4 2021 – all markets except China Snapchat

key – even for federations, leagues and pro teams – is to find a way for players to lead the social media charge. “The NBA is great at that, because it’s aware that although a fan might not know who LeBron James plays for, they do know him.” Minal Modha, consumer research lead at Ampere Analysis, says the fact that social media platforms encourage athletes to have their own personal accounts gives a more human voice to the players. “The numbers speak for themselves – just look at Cristiano Ronaldo, who has over 450 million Instagram followers. From a league and team perspective, they can lean on these player accounts to push out branded sponsor content and promote the team.” If the player does not benefit enough from increased social media activity directly via a share of advertising on the platform, then pro sports organisations are finding ways to step in. The PGA Tour

“The NBA is aware that although a fan might not know who LeBron James plays for, they do know him”

created its Player Impact Program for top golfers last year, a plan which awards $50 million to players who are the most popular on social media. Tiger Woods topped the 2021 list and earned $8 million, even though he was injured and did not play a single tournament, while Phil Mickelson finished second and pocketed $6 million. SPORTSTOK With so much at stake, content continues to increase at all levels – and the platforms work hard to develop new creators, particularly grassroots teams or passionate superfans. As many as 4.75 million subscribers have signed up for the YouTube Creators programme, which offers help and guidance to budding videomakers. And new kid on the block TikTok is adopting the same strategy, working directly





Fan engagement

with stars to make sure their content is as effective as it can be. Arthur Guisasola, strategic partner lead for sport at TikTok, says: “Last year, Burnley FC Women became the first creator football team, receiving bespoke training on producing the best possible content. The same guidance was provided at the TikTok-sponsored Women’s Six Nations, to promote grassroots female rugby players and creators.” TikTok is coming up fast on the rails. Sports is consistently one of its top-performing categories, with the #sports hashtag racking up nearly 100 billion views. In all platforms, the search is on for more authenticity – Guisasola believes TikTok has changed the dynamic. “We include everything from iconic sporting moments and never-before-seen content, to light-hearted commentary, fan

celebrations – and pros giving us a window into their world.” Of course, the social trail leads to youth. “It’s well-documented that traditional sports struggle to engage younger audiences, in particular 18- to 24-year-olds,” says Modha. “We know these demographics are heavy social media users, so by distributing content to platforms popular with them, there’s a good chance of increased engagement.” But O’Hagan insists the element of quality control is still evolving. “Two years ago, it was ‘get the content out there, be the quickest’. Now, it’s much more considered.” For golf’s Open Championship, O’Hagan helps scale up in-play content on Twitter to drive the daily narrative, but longer-form YouTube material is needed for other clients, or short, snappy items on Instagram. “Algorithms have driven different types of content to the appropriate platform. A digital team two years ago would be people sitting on the net, watching the world TV feed, clipping and sending it out. Now, there are video reporters on the ground supplementing it. One size doesn’t fit all any more.”

“Two years ago, it was ‘get the content out there, be the quickest’. Now, it’s much more considered”



Sponsored content

Managing sports media means supercharging fan experience A new era of football

broadcasting is being defined by speedy content automation T he French Professional Football League – Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) – is taking control of its media strategy, with Dalet Flex’s cloud-native technology. The sports media landscape hinges on engagement. Fans demand that relevant match highlights and

content are available instantly, across all regions, platforms and devices. Pivoting to an enterprise- grade media workflow platform has enabled LFP’s production staff to refocus time on assessing consumption patterns and enhancing content strategy accordingly. body responsible for overseeing, organising and managing the top two football leagues in France – Ligue 1 Uber Eats and Ligue 2 BKT, as well as the 44 professional football clubs that contest the titles – managing more than 100 weekly match highlight videos. To stay competitive, LFP required a solution to simultaneously REVENUE OPPORTUNITIES LFP is the French governing manage the large volumes of live video content and adhere to tight weekend publishing schedules, all while bringing sports fans closer to the action, quicker than ever before. A scalable content and distribution strategy has been made possible with Dalet Flex. The ability to accelerate the time-consuming media management, automate ingest, and transform preparation and publishing processes of game- highlight videos to YouTube and

Dailymotion has been LFP’s ticket to play. LFP has organised its content library, while streamlining production and distribution processes. According to LFP chief information officer, Olivier Imbert, Dalet Flex is a game changer. His teams can now “refocus their time on assessing fan consumption patterns and developing new content revenue opportunities”. Less administrative work means teams can focus on storytelling. According to Dalet’s director of product marketing, Mathieu Zarouk: “Dalet Flex allows customers like LFP to better organise their content library, and streamline their production and distribution processes,” he explains. “This allows them to focus on their creative craft and content strategy, rather than fastidious technical tasks.” LFP’s strategy is clear. Strengthen fan engagement and offer the best experience, while channelling new revenue opportunities – be that territory expansion, refocusing on creative output rather than technical tasks and fundamentally producing more high-quality content. BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS Dalet Flex, which is now available as a service, has a simple-to-use

interface, with no IT expertise required for customers. In addition to automation capabilities, it offers a set of media-specific tools, designed with the key aims of automating low added-value tasks, fostering collaboration, and harnessing creative opportunity, without the worry of technical operations. LFP’s digital video highlights are distributed using Dalet Flex in a simplified manner, ensuring the playlist information and metadata – including mapping from XML to asset metadata – is accurate and consistent. Dalet Flex also boasts the ability to enrich metadata (manually or with AI), to enable advanced search and filtering capabilities. Fox Networks Group, Arsenal FC and Audi are among those deploying solutions to aid content operations. Zarouk highlights the main areas of success, growth and financial gain its customers are finding since investing in Dalet Flex. “Projects are executed up to 55% faster, between three and four additional projects can be managed by the same staff, and there are significant cost-per- project savings of up to 70%.”

FOOTBALL FOCUS Dalet’s workflow platform allows the real story behind the on-pitch action to be told

QUICK AND EASY It’s the pace at which information can be delivered that’s so impressive





Case study

LIVE STREAMING Ready... Set... eSkootr

You’ve heard of car racing, horse racing – even duck racing. Now electric scooters are standing tall in a brand-new tournament model //// WORDS BY VERITY BUTLER //// A market set to reach a valuation of almost $42 billion by 2030, it seems almost impossible

to turn any urban street corner without nearly crashing head-first into an electric scooter. Five million e-scooter units were sold in 2018 alone – a year that seemed to rapidly kick-start the ever-growing trend of trading out pollution-pumping cars for a quieter, more energy-saving mode of transport. Besides cleaning up our planet, while simultaneously wreaking pure havoc on our roads, what else could this technology have to offer? Quite a lot it turns out, as 2022 saw the launch of the first-ever e-scooter racing series. An organisation known as the eSkootr Championship (eSC) partnered with NEP to deliver the inaugural season – notably in 9:16 vertical format. “The eSkootr Championship is a new category of sport that we’ve been developing from the ground

up,” describes eSC co-founder and CEO Hrag Sarkissian. “Having started this project about two years ago, our mission is to create a whole new genre that’s accessible, sustainable and really made for the next generation. “Our aims also sit alongside helping the micromobility industry that you see growing very quickly, as it decongests and greenifies our major cities.” Pioneering e-scooters as a sport means formulating rules, racecourses and, crucially, a fan base. Therefore, successfully

“We have a big bilinear footprint, as well as the eSC Fan Hub – our own OTT platform. It’s where people watch, but also engage as part of the community”

distributing a live stream was fundamental to its growth. “The biggest thing about our championship is that we are agile and able to integrate in urban environments, so it’s always relevant for audiences,” Sarkissian continues. A recent race was held at Printworks London, creating a unique indoor and outdoor course. Comprising 600m of track, scooters wove deftly in front of enthralled fans. Some boasted speeds in excess of 100km/h, particularly on the newly designed S1-X eSkootr. The event itself was a roaring success, with food, drinks and entertainment during and after the race action. “The challenges we faced are what you would expect with a first


The S1-X is the fastest e-scooter in the world

GROWING THE BASE Vertical video is a key strategy for building a good social following



Case study

people come to watch, but also engage as part of the community.” Even though eSC is still in its infancy, an early focus on fan engagement – in tandem with respective distribution platforms – means interactivity is already embedded in the experience. It is apparent that, although the prospect of launching a new sporting event may seem an uphill climb, there’s an opportunity to get ahead of the curve when it comes to livestreaming for a dedicated base of viewers. “A big thing for us is to keep innovating,” Sarkissian concludes. “It’s also about making sure what we do is always relevant.” To learn more about upcoming eSC events, head to: hub.esc.live

to immediately use this as a key form of distribution. Rather than having to adapt to it down the line, as other major sports brands have done in recent years. “The idea is to remove any barriers of entry between the fans and the sport. It’s about getting them up there and close. Again, accessibility is a huge part of our motto. This is just as important for helping fans to consume, along with participate in, eSC events.” Sarkissian emphasises that, despite being an exciting dimension to the Championship’s broadcast, distribution isn’t solely confined to the vertical space. “We have a big bilinear footprint, as well as the eSC Fan Hub – our own OTT platform. It’s where

IN THE KNOW Get to grips with all things eSC – watch and learn about tracks, riders and its mission

STAYING ON TRACK With flashy venues, the races are a real spectacle

event,” Sarkissian explains. “There’s a lot to learn, and so much tech that goes into what we do –from the scooter itself, to the data and telemetry we stream.” Searching for ways to elevate the broadcast from the get-go, eSC turned to vertical (9:16), wanting






The die-hard generational fan is on its way out

Xtreme speaks to Sports Innovation Lab president and co-founder Josh Walker about understanding your fans



One on one

“Not understanding who your customer is: that’s a significant problem” aren’t doing the same, when they are such powerful brands in the minds of the consumer. Xtreme: What led to this kind of alienation from fans? Walker: It’s a very obvious answer when you think about it. Before, there used to be generational fandom. If your mum or dad were Dodgers fans, you became a Dodgers fan – because you grew up seeing them on TV. And that was all you had the opportunity to watch. Our company really studied the impact of technology on fan behaviour. We found that the die- hard generational fan is on its way out. There are still very passionate supporters, don't get me wrong, especially in Europe and South America. But if a new technology and experience allows them to watch or consume something, they are inevitably going to gravitate to that. Because it’s going to be cooler, better, faster and more exciting than sitting in a seat, watching a match for four hours.

industry. We meet somebody who knows somebody, and they make a recommendation.’ It was really like an old boys’ network. And she loved the idea of the rigour that I was applying to it. As we got started, we found that the problem in the industry wasn’t how to buy the latest and greatest technology – they were obsessed with it and looking at every shiny object. The issue was they didn’t know who their fans were. Not understanding who your customer is: that’s a significant problem. We kept going deeper into this issue, and found that companies didn’t have sophisticated back- end systems, relying instead on a lot of partners to take care of it. If you’re the New York Yankees, you may count on legends to help reach out to customers. If you’re TD Garden in Boston, you might depend on the Celtics, who then need Ticketmaster to get word to your clients. There ends up being several steps of disintermediation in the industry. And that’s another problem, because then you don’t get zero-party data. They look at Netflix, Google and Facebook – who are going like crazy – and can’t figure out why they

JOSH WALKER Sports Innovation Lab president and co-founder

Xtreme: How did Sports Innovation Lab get started? Josh Walker: The company was established in 2016. My co-founder Angela Ruggiero had been on the executive board of the International Olympic Committee and was chief strategy officer for the LA 2024 Olympic bid, which became the 2028 bid. She was getting a lot of inbound technology companies saying, ‘We can make your Olympic Games the most innovative ever.’ We met around that time, when I was trying to run a company that researched and evaluated sports technology. Angela said: ‘Nobody does that in the sports

DATA ORACLE Sports Innovation Lab seeks to understand how technology changes fan behaviour – and thus the future of the industry





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