What is the role of Quality of Experience in sports events?

QoE in sports events

Imagine you are watching the final of a competition and, at the moment when the victory is about to be decided, you experience some kind of signal distortion. The image freezes or becomes pixelated. And you don’t really know what happened, who won the competition?. To the disbelief (and perhaps anger) of that moment, you would add despair and a clear dissatisfaction with what has happened and with the signal provider company.

Although this bad user experience can occur in any TV broadcast, in the case of sporting events it is even more important to avoid it.

Not for nothing, sports represent one of the most important television content today. Indeed, the final of any FIFA World Cup attracted more viewers than any other event on television. According to Statista, more than 562 million watched the final in Brazil in 2014, the biggest number for now. South Africa and Russia finals are the other two events that attracted more viewers.

These figures clearly indicate the importance of such media events in people’s lives, but also point to the potential of televised sports events to pervasively affect vast audiences, including entire nations.

All about emotions

When an audience watches sports events on television, there are a lot of emotions implied. Feelings derived from watching sports depend in large part on the positive or negative dispositions a person holds toward the team or athlete, and on the respective team’s or athlete’s performance in terms of winning or losing. And that feelings and emotions have a lot of implications for the Quality of Experience (QoE) of the audience.

We are all conscious that the experiences between watching some sporting event on TV or any other devices (such as smartphones) or being present on the field are not the same. But it is justice to recognize that the modern tendency is that TV enters people’s life deeper and deeper and today most people also enjoy watching any show on any device with the same excitement as if they are present in that match.

Broadcasting viewers can be positive as well as negatively affected by their feelings when watching sports remotely. And that’s something broadcasting companies must be aware of. Interestingly, some studies were able to show that the feelings evoked by watching sports television also influence viewers’ judgments, following the feeling-as-information theory.

As sports fans are among the most loyal of all consumers, companies must take into consideration a lot of factors to increase the Quality of Experience. Nevertheless, this kind of people is a valuable audience for brands trying to get their message in front of an engaged, broad audience, and, in consequence, for advertisement. Remember that the live experience is something that these audiences want, and they are willing to pay an increased amount of money to get this reward. They want to watch their favorite players and be part of the event by cheering on the team or player and sharing that excitement with others.

Some challenges to face

When it comes to delivering live events, some challenges need to be addressed to provide a successful streaming solution. In the first place, competition is fierce in live streaming. Every player wants their piece of the pie and fights to gain more audience attention. To stay ahead of the curve, you’ll want proven solutions for potential pitfalls such as scalability issues during periods of peak demand, latency problems, and inadequate streaming quality for all devices. You’ll want to avoid these traps ahead of time while minimizing costs.

Sports leagues are also fighting and dealing with massive revenue increases from content rights agreements. When it comes to streaming, competition within and among new platforms is ferocious.

Streaming players have also to deal with broadband connections, finding ways to reduce its consumption while maintaining video quality. One option to ensure high video quality with low bit rates is using the content-aware encoding (CAE). At the same time, these companies must be able to scale streaming services for high volumes of consumers. Although cloud computing is a great solution for live streaming, it is complex, and companies must control costs to be profitable.

Of course, there are a lot of many technical issues to resolve. Especially in sports like football or basketball, or in those who are played in the water, movement management is complex. The more movement there is, the more your equipment works to update the pixels in the frame.

About the future

Live sports viewing is no longer just about the TV set anymore. Digital live sports content is also exploding: eMarketer predicts it will reach 57.5 million viewers this year and 90.7 million by 2025 only in the US. By 2025, e.g. more than 25% of Americans are expected to be watching live sports digitally. This, in turn, is helping to increase the overall revenue that comes from live sport broadcasting rights and creates a bigger incentive for companies to advertise during live events.

The future of the sport is much more than just access to the live match. Television must fight for fan engagement before, during, and after the competition. Rights holders must look to broadcasters and digital platforms that will work collaboratively to push their product, develop the viewing experience, and offer further complementary services and content.

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