Blog Post by Charlie Kraus
Golfers will tee off for the British Open 2019 on July 18. The last time the Open Championship took place in Northern Ireland was 1951. When it makes its return at the Royal Portrush in County Antrim with its backdrop of the picturesque Irish coastline, it will be just the second time the Open will be played in Ireland. All 146 of the other Opens have been played in Scotland or England. Since few can be there in person, luckily for fans NBC Sports Group is planning over 400 hours of programming, 200 hours of TV coverage and 210 hours of live streaming. NBC Sports will carry the Open in the US and the Golf Channel and Sky Sports also plan extensive coverage. Golf fans can also watch live streams on YouTube.
There are multiple reasons for the popularity of watching the Open online. From the fan perspective, the ability to watch from any device they choose, and on their own schedule, has broad appeal. With play and associated programming scheduled throughout the days of the tournament, fans rely on on-demand access to watch their favorite players at the end of a workday. This year, NBC Sports will do extensive replay coverage, including highlights, featured holes, and groupings. Expats are especially reliant on streaming options to be able to watch matches from abroad. For TV broadcasters holding the rights to deliver sports coverage, complementing traditional TV broadcasts with live streaming attracts significant additional audience – critical for ad monetization given the high cost of licensing rights. Other business benefits include the ability to gather data such as viewer engagement metrics, who is watching, and where they are located. This all goes to improving monetization.
The ability to access sports events on different devices helps fans stay more engaged in national or international events and is likely a reason sports events enjoy such high viewership. To maintain consumer expectations for multi-device viewing, it’s important to have a CDN with the capability to do device detection and automatically optimize picture quality for each viewer’s device, available bandwidth and network conditions. Preparing for the next big sports event means partnering with CDN providers with the network capacity to support the expected streaming traffic in the regions where fans are located, and ability to handle the large spikes in logins that occur when matches are close in the final minutes of play. As sports license holders begin to prepare for the future international events (i.e. 2020 Olympics), it's important to partner now with network providers that have the technology and video delivery services that will score higher rates of engagement and evolve fan experiences in ways that traditional broadcast just can’t compete with.