The New Exploration of Broadcast: Live & Transactional video

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2020 was the year of change, and the trends that started last year continue into 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting lockdowns, has caused arguably the biggest shifts in broadcasting priorities in history. At the height of the pandemic, more than 4 billion of the world’s population were locked down in some capacity.

A first time being locked down for almost all of us, this unprecedented event led to an increased reliance on broadcasters and over-the-top (OTT) providers to keep the world not only entertained but connected. In leading that effort, broadcasters found a new category of exploration: live and transactional video.

The lockdown has caused a number of changes globally, and the broadcasting industry is no different. One of the main shifts has been live events remodelling to virtual. With mass viewing figures at an all-time high, an essentially captive audience is not only being forced to open their minds to new concepts, but also embrace them like never before.

OTT Media Has Hit a Spike—But Why? 

As the coronavirus pandemic caused havoc worldwide, time that would previously have been spent socialising and outside of the house—such as at restaurants, pubs, or elsewhere—was replaced by the only thing people could legitimately do: watch entertainment and connect virtually. It’s little to no surprise that a recent Global Web Index report found that more than 80% of audiences have consumed more content since the outbreak.

This increased audience consumption has forged a path for live and transactional video consumption, and this has, in turn, presented broadcasters with an exciting new opportunity to drive more meaningful interactions and engage further with audiences.

A key message for broadcasters to understand is that audiences now have more of a vested interest in what they’re watching. The wide range of content available on an increasing variety of platforms (both live and on demand) are allowing users to watch the content they are interested in, as opposed to being limited to simply what is on television. The personalisation of ads and targeted content resonates more clearly with a more interested audience, and broadcasters should be aware of this when looking to maximise on opportunities created by the spike in OTT media.

OTT media has been seen as a galvaniser for revenue growth during COVID, with viewing figures soaring. Whilst the world has been pushed into a global recession, ad revenue has made a significant resurgence in recent months, roaring back to match pre-COVID levels. The market also showed strong digital advertising growth in the quarter. Events of this year are accelerating existing trends like e-commerce growth, as consumers get comfortable buying online out of necessity. And advertisers are following them online. 

Enhancing Fan Experiences During the Global Lockdown

Broadcasters working with the UK Premier League present a key and prime example of how broadcasters are utilising OTT video during the COVID-19 pandemic. With fans kept away from stadiums for over 9 months (and now most being kept away once again!), sports teams, organisers, and broadcasters had to look at a new way to keep the fans connected to the teams they love—essentially replacing the stadium experience, or at the very least shifting it into a virtual capacity.

One method of doing so was showing every Premier League football game live on TV on some kind of platform - the first time this has ever been attempted. This massive increase of live new sport gave broadcasters an opportunity to really hone their advertising and marketing ploys on specific markets and audiences, knowing that each individual viewer tuning in had a shared passion or vested interest in what they were watching. Producing team specific and personalised ads became the driving force for broadcasters showing live sport. 

Virtue From Necessity: How Broadcasters Are Tapping Into the Boom

Broadcasters are finding ways to utilise the explosion of OTT media, tapping into the massive growth, helping to support brands with new revenue opportunities in a world where physical limitations have increased screen time and viewing hours. Paid subscriptions for OTT media services jumped 31% in just four months during the initial COVID-19 lockdown, highlighting how much reliance and increased usage is being placed on services.

Broadcasters should be looking to utilise creative methods to cut through the noise in a crowded market, such as personalised, regional specific, and topic-specific content. It is key for a broadcaster to not only find a method of cutting through the noise, making the most of this boom, but finding the ways that works for them, resonating best with their audiences. 

The personalisation of ads has always been an excellent way for content companies to target the right advertising for the right audiences, driving higher returns such as click-throughs and advertising ROI. This is especially prevalent now that the content is so varied and widespread. Blanket advertising is no longer going hitting it’s marks. 

Future Changes, and the Outlook of 2021

Similarly to many business effects of COVID-19, this rise in OTT media streaming isn’t going away anytime soon. Whilst the numbers may drop off slightly as the world continues to reopen and return to a familiar landscape, we should expect to see continued high levels of interaction across live and transactional video. The world might be slowly returning to normality, but we predict the broadcasting industry will evolve to incorporate the new OTT normal, actively encouraging more viewer engagement as part of their long-term plans.

[Editor's Note: This is a contributed article from Promethean TV. Streaming Media accepts vendor bylines based solely on their value to our readers.]

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