Blog Post by Charlie Kraus
Wimbledon 2019 is underway. The oldest Grand Slam competition in tennis has a rich 142-year history, and is the only one still played on grass. Along with a long history and tradition, comes continued success by embracing new technology and constant change. For 2019, there is a new retractable roof on No.1 Court, and for the first time, the BBC will show all matches in HD, and additionally, all Centre Court matches in 4K HDR. Based on the success last year of offering the 4K streams on a first-come-first-served basis to tens of thousands of viewers, that practice will carry over this year, ensuring the best viewing experience because of the bandwidth the higher resolution requires. What’s new isn’t limited to video delivery. Wimbledon organizer, the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC), became one of the first sports properties in Europe to do a partnership with Snapchat for their Live Stories product.
There are multiple reasons for the popularity of watching Wimbledon matches online. From the fan perspective, the ability to watch events from any device they choose, and on their own schedule, has broad appeal. With matches scheduled throughout the days of the tournament, tennis fans rely on on-demand access to watch their favorite players at the end of a workday. Expats are especially reliant on streaming options to be able to watch matches from abroad. For TV broadcasters holding the rights to deliver sports coverage, complementing traditional TV broadcasts with live streaming attracts significant additional audience – critical for ad monetization given the high cost of licensing rights. Other business benefits include the ability to gather data such as viewer engagement metrics, who is watching, and where they are located. This all goes to improving monetization.
The ability to access sports events on different devices helps fans stay more engaged in national or international events and is likely a reason sports events enjoy such high viewership. To maintain consumer expectations for multi-device viewing, it’s important to have a CDN with the capability to do device detection and automatically optimize picture quality for each viewer’s device, available bandwidth and network conditions. Preparing for the next big sports event means partnering with CDN providers with the network capacity to support the expected streaming traffic in the regions where fans are located, and ability to handle the large spikes in logins that occur when matches are close in the final minutes of play. As sports license holders begin to prepare for the future international events (i.e. 2020 Olympics), it's important to partner now with network providers that have the technology and video delivery services that will score higher rates of engagement and evolve fan experiences in ways that traditional broadcast just can’t compete with.