How can newsrooms produce unique, engaging sports coverage at pace?

Delivering fast, stylized content helps sports publishers engage fans and drive revenues. Ian Campbell, managing director at Omnisport – Perform-owned sports content agency, and a Reuters Connect Partner – discusses the challenges of differentiated B2B sports content.

By Giles Crosse, Reuters Community | Apr 2, 2019

When it comes to sports coverage, speed is king. But fast-paced content should never outweigh accuracy, particularly in a demanding market where flexible revenues and requirements for complex products pressure providers to innovate.

Across predominantly mobile platforms, sports content delivery is evolving within months, not years. Within this disruptive space, the equations for success appear increasingly complex.

Video remains the most important part of the sports content mix, both in terms of revenue and output. Speed is uncontentious; we want our content into the space as quickly as possible.

Ian Campbell, managing director, Omnisport – Perform Group

70% of Omnisport videos feature football. The Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1, Serie A plus Champions League and many other leagues are available in multiple languages. English, Italian and Spanish, feature on Connect as packaged content via Omnisport Ready. Omnisport uncut content is delivered with natural sound.

Our partnership with Perform, the leading digital sports content group, gives our clients access to a wealth of sports expertise,

— says Evangeline de Bourgoing, product manager, Reuters Sports.

On Reuters Connect, media outlets can discover a wide variety of carefully-curated sports videos. From highlights of Premier League press conferences to fan reactions and reviews of key match statistics, Perform provides Connect clients with multiple ways to engage their audiences.

Socialeyesed – Kepa refuses substitution in Carabao Cup final Socialeyesed – Kepa refuses substitution in Carabao Cup final

Levels of complexity and querying the data

Featuring big names and clubs seems obvious, but that’s where the simplicity ends. Many Omnisport videos are generated to suit precise customer needs. “Perform, which owns Omnisport, also owns Opta which is our sports data provider,” explains Ian.

We offer data editorial as we call it, with experts querying the data. They come up with weird, wonderful facts and metrics.”

Data requirements vary, some customers require highlights clips, but others hold their own major rights investments. Instead, they need interlaced data, along with deeper news coverage or press conferences that support their investment in rights.

Videos are becoming much shorter, while voiceovers are being lost to subtitling. Evolving changes means constantly plan ahead.

“It really is so fast moving,” Ian comments. “We’ve touched on short form, voiceover and mobile, we take these for granted but they are profound changes. With tech, you have to distinguish gimmicks from the useful. Do we need to be future proofing around consumers asking google for the latest sports news by voice, and how we fit into that space?”

Models and revenues; flexibility is your friend

Deep, complex change is also transforming sports content revenue models. Many believe the days of licensing and subscriptions are over.

“We don’t accept that,” says Ian. “Subscription will always be part of the mix but we have to be open minded about new forms of monetization; ad shares with the publisher and points based transactional systems. Omnisport offers a fully packaged, branded plug and play video service. But some customers are starting to prefer bespoke alternatives.

“More complex customers want content as part of a wider range of assets they can piece together using tools.” It all points to a key trend; broadcasters and digital publishers delivering content in increasingly specialised and targeted ways.

“In terms of stories that have gained the most traction, our ability to deliver breaking news and trending headlines with associated viral and Opta data-based videos provide some of our strongest and most sought-after content.”

The money game

“When it comes to a content provider like us, cash is a complicated equation,” says Ian. “On balance there is ever more money in sport, but that doesn’t mean there is necessarily more money to spend on content delivery.”

Ever changing tenders and costs complicate the playing field. Domestic rights tenders can flatline, yet overall money in the game can still be going up, yet not into the pockets of digital broadcasters.

“Everyone is aware that an awful lot of money is being poured into sport. But that doesn’t mean content providers like us are suddenly in clover. In fact the more money broadcasters and publishers spend acquiring sports rights, the less they sometimes have to spend on other content,” Ian concludes.

Coming up: this summer sees the conclusion of the inaugural Nations League. Omnisport and Connect will offer a strong focus across the semi finals on May 5, plus the Final on June 9.