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Don’t Give the Game Away: 3 Considerations for OTT Live Sports

Man watching football game OTT

Securely scaling up for popular live events where millions of simultaneous viewers tune in at once is no easy feat. However, it’s critical that the content distribution workflow seems effortless from a viewer’s point of view. When implemented correctly, the entire sports broadcast operation is invisible to the end user and viewers are unaware of all the different vendors involved. 

Think of turning on a light – with the seemingly simple flip of a switch, a space is illuminated. It’s only when something goes wrong that we think twice about all the complicated elements that are at play. The same is true of live sports content distribution. 

Live sports events are unlike any other when it comes to streaming – any small delay can wreak havoc on a user’s experience, bandwidth issues can cause an exodus of subscribers and brand devaluation, and weak content security can result in stolen profit. 

To stay in the game, live sports broadcasters need to optimize every step of the digital media supply chain. Workflows need to be streamlined to squeeze out any additional steps that slow a stream and pull viewers “behind live.” 

Here are a few things to consider if you’re looking to optimize your content distribution workflow and securely stream live sports events:   

Total Cost of Ownership

 
Expense can be a huge barrier to entry for live streaming sports, particularly because the expected audience size is difficult to predict. Without a previous event to establish precedent, modeling the costs of streaming against predicted revenue can be a challenge.  
 
Cloud infrastructure is a cost-efficient way to duplicate the video workflow infrastructure for the duration of a live event. Having a live streaming platform that can run on a datacenter and in the cloud, in parallel, is not only cost-effective, it’s convenient and flexible. A cloud deployment of DRM makes it possible to stream seamlessly on different devices and platforms, and it also means that you will only have to pay for what you use for each given event. 

 

Anti-Piracy

 
Estimates from Parks Associates peg the cost of video piracy for pay-TV and OTT operators at $66 billion in lost revenue by next year. Ultimately – it doesn’t matter how efficiently you broadcast live sports events or how many expenses you reduce with a cloud deployment of DRM if pirates are able to steal your stream and undercut your revenue.  
 
The right OTT content distribution for live sports will always prioritize anti-piracy. While DRM ensures that only authorized viewers can access premium content, a well-rounded approach will include forensic watermarking to protect the game even after it’s displayed on users’ screens. 
 
Acting as a crucial complement to DRM, forensic watermarking technology empowers providers and broadcasters to detect camcording, digital and analog attacks, and geometric manipulations at device and subscriber levels. Watermarking embeds a unique identifier for each session, enabling identification of the device that is “leaking” or restreaming the content. This allows for real-time shutdown of the illegal redistribution or the ability to take other actions subject to the service provider’s policy. 
 
Forensic watermarking can be applied either at the head-end during content processing and delivery (server-side) or within the client device and video player (client-side). For live sports OTT services, avoiding latency when adding a forensic watermark is crucial. Server-side technology requires heavy integration with the live encoders and CDNs and can add additional latency to live events. 

Analytics and Custom Solutions

 
Solutions that enable you to automatically identify problems affecting the viewer experience will reduce churn and maximize engagement. An analytics platform will help you get to the root cause of any QoE issues and resolve them before your users are impacted. 
 
Easy access to detailed data is the first step to correct and respond to latency issues, preventing viewer dissatisfaction and costly subscriber churn. Verimatrix Analytics offers Quality of Service (QoS) monitoring features for video service providers to track latency and receive alerts any time a viewer experience falls short. Customizable real-time dashboards help you find actionable data to enhance user experience—identify playback issues, optimize service performance, and streamline network operations. 

Partner with an Expert to Develop the Right Approach

 
Sports fans crave frictionless experiences across multiple devices. This includes seamless authentication, uninterrupted playback, access to a robust content library and personalized bundles. With Verimatrix’s suite of live-streaming and OTT solutions, sports broadcasters can securely deliver exciting events to large audiences and leverage scalable, real-time video content across any device and platform. 
 
Interested in learning more about best practices for anti-piracy in OTT sports? Read our new eBook to gain valuable insights and guidance about content security for live events. 
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