Real-Time Interactive Streaming Key For Sports

Streaming services need to offer a synchronous, interactive livestream of sports options if they want to hold on to the cord cutters they’ve gained since the pandemic.

With 2020’s lack of live sports on television, we saw an accelerated migration of consumers switch from traditional cable to streaming services. In the early months of the year, cable and television had  2 million customers end their subscriptions, and this number only grew as the year continued to chug along without any sports.

As the number of cord cutters continues to increase and sports makes its way back, streaming services are scrambling to adjust their live sports content to better suit the needs and expectations of fans. One way they can differentiate themselves is by prioritizing their streaming technology in order to deliver a user experience that simulates a stadium-like atmosphere.

While many streaming services have chosen to take the exclusive content route as a way to attract viewers, streaming sports in real-time with no delays or latency should also be a priority. Sports can be a deciding factor for many consumers, making it vital for platforms to hone in on creating a synchronous, interactive livestream viewing experience to keep viewers around for the long haul.

Lack Of Sports = Cord Cutting

Right before the sports shut down in March, 27% of consumers watched sports on television on a weekly basis with 12% watching on a daily basis. Yet, when many sports leagues made the decision to postpone play, it left holes for networks to fill and caused a multitude of consumers to abandon their traditional cable subscriptions.

Fueled by this lack of sports, the number of households that have cut the cord has reached 31.2 million this year and that number is only expected to rise and potentially reach 46.6 million households by 2024. What’s more, it’s estimated that 91 million consumers will use live video streaming by 2024 as well.


Now that sports have returned — with several leagues now playing in their postseasons — even more consumers are testing streaming services and, in turn, providing these services with a massive opportunity to attract new viewers. With fans still unable to attend games in person, streaming services will need more than just exclusive content to win over cord cutters, they will also need to provide them with a user experience that offers real-time streaming without sacrificing quality.

Delivering Top-Notch Synced Streams

Consumers have a plethora of streaming platforms and devices to watch games from, but many haven’t historically been able to provide viewers a synchronized, real-time livestream. In fact, data shows that during last year’s NFL Super Bowl, fans who were livestreaming the game were delayed up to an average of 47 seconds.

This should not be the case — the technology exists for streaming services to provide sub-second latency, synchronized streams to millions of sports fans concurrently.

The Power Of Gamification

Although sports are back, we don’t know how long we’ll be in a state of social distancing. With more fans tuning in from home for the foreseeable future, streaming platforms must rethink what it means to “watch” sports — they have to take it a step further and create a “social living room.”

Industry data points out that 63% of consumers are willing to pay more to livestream sports if platforms personalized the viewing experience. Furthermore, 90% are using a second screen to watch live games, with 45% of them saying they use the second screen to engage with friends — demonstrating the need for the social environment typically experienced at a game or sports bar to be recreated in a viewer’s living room.

Jed Corenthal: Streaming services need to offer a synchronous, interactive livestream of sports options if they want to hold on to the cord cutters they’ve gained since the pandemic. Click To Tweet

To recreate this environment, streaming services should be able to provide interactive features all in one place to keep fans engaged with the content and each other. Integrating features such as the new “Watch Together” feature where fans can invite up to three of their friends to watch a live game together, live chats or live polls where viewers can share their thoughts on the game or vote on if the next play will result in a touchdown makes watching much more social as viewers can share in the same moments with other fans.

These gamification features are essential to the success of streaming platforms as cord cutters can easily return to cable if they become unhappy with their streaming experiences. Viewers will be looking for streaming platforms that can satisfy their sports entertainment fix. To attract these potential subscribers, streaming platforms have to improve their technology and produce a synchronized, interactive viewing experience. Doing this successfully will push real-time streaming to the next level of sports entertainment.

Jed Corenthal is the chief marketing officer of Phenix, a streaming tech platform.

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