Ultra HD Video Poised to Transform the Sports Viewing Experience

Chris Wagner, Co-founder and Executive Vice President, NeuLion
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Chris Wagner, Co-founder and Executive Vice President, NeuLion

There is a fundamental shift taking place in the way that audiences consume sports and entertainment media. Today’s sports fans want multi-screen, platform-agnostic content presented via an interactive, best-in-class user experience and employing the highest quality video possible. Changing viewing habits and consumer desires are placing increased demand on major sports brands, but it’s not all bad. This shift is also driving innovative technologies, services and solutions that are resulting in never-before-seen sports entertainment.

Gone are the days when fans had two choices to view games: in-person or via their local cable network. The modern sports fan expects live-event excitement, in-person quality and the comfort of being at home in their living room with the option to view on-the-go on their mobile devices–all at once, regardless of where or how they are watching live events. Today’s fans also expect interaction and the ability to control their viewing experience.

As a result, over-the-top (OTT) and on-demand services are replacing traditional distribution models for sports broadcast. Consumers now have an A-la-carte menu of options for viewing. However, OTT and on-demand are not the only metamorphic changes taking place. Fans expect innovative, interactive, “better-than-TV” omni-platform experiences.

The evolution in viewer experience is driving innovation both on and off the playing field. More and more, major brands are using innovative tactics and technology to capture every aspect and detail of the event. From drone cams and Sky cams to Spider cams and tower cams—networks are employing an array of cameras to bring viewers into the event.

By the same token, networks and broadcasters are continually seeking to improve the quality of video their viewers receive. Many live events are being broadcast in HD 1080/60p. However, those just broadcasting in HD are already a step behind. OTT and on-demand services are already streaming stunning video at up to 4K/60p resolutions.

The need to meet the demands of sports fans around the world is placing increased pressure on sports leagues, teams and broadcasters to create direct-to-consumer video distribution networks and fan experiences of their own. Major sports brands that succeed will be those that seek out partners to help them deliver a customized, best-in-class user experience directly to consumers.

Successful brands will engage partners who have both industry-leading technology and a track record of delivering results. One such example is the NeuLion® Digital Platform that uses HEVC and MPEG-DASH to stream live video up to 4Kp60to DivX Certified® consumer electronics devices that integrate the new DivX® Streaming SDK. The combination creates an end-to-end platform for content rights holders and consumer electronics companies, who license its components to support content ingestion, encoding, monetization, management, security and monitoring, and to streamline the content delivery process to a range of consumer devices. NeuLion’s platform facilitates the streaming and sharing of high-quality content for an impressive roster of clients, including: MLS, NFL, NBA, and Tennis Channel, among others. Major consumer electronics companies like LG Electronics look to NeuLion and DivX technology to enable a 4K video experience in their Ultra HD televisions.

Sports brands, networks and broadcasters that engage partners with video platforms and technology solutions to distribute the highest quality video and to engage viewers through the best possible user experience, will be the most successful.

It is imperative that continued innovation and technological development also increase to rise and meet the challenges and increasing demands of sports fans. This continual innovation and technological development will mean that live sporting events will be the first to get the full 4K treatment.

Whether viewers prefer to watch on a 110” UHD television or from a tablet while tailgating, this is certain: sports brands that work with leading partners to deliver live and on-demand OTT services will ensure that sports fans can catch every aspect of their favorite live events, wherever, whenever and however they want, in the highest-possible quality.

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