Broadcasters Must Up Their Live Highlights Game

Live events viewers have shown they want fast access to highlights and clips on multiple platforms. Broadcasters need to be able to meet that demand.

Adapting to changing consumer habits within the broadcast market is not always a simple feat. As much as content consumption patterns and technology workflows have evolved in the past decade, mapping out the fit and value of content as the industry continues to change is no easy task — especially for broadcasting mainstays like live sports, entertainment and news.

Live events remain powerful anchors for media schedules, and rightly so. The shared connection and excitement of watching a live sports game or awards ceremony brings fans together globally, united by a shared interest. Yet, the explosion of streaming services, social media highlights and on-demand replays of major events online has instigated a much richer and more complex TV landscape.

With all the bonus content now available around live events — including online pre- and post-game analysis, player profiles, data-driven gaming feeds, social media back-and-forth between athletes/celebrities and their fans, backstage chat and performances around entertainment events — a “content continuum” of live and on-demand elements quickly emerges. Much of this content may begin life as live TV, but it always lives on as video on demand (VOD).

What we define as VOD continues to broaden to include everything from Amazon Prime Video Sports to YouTube channels, NBA League Pass coverage, Twitch esports replays and Twitter highlights. This live VOD content continuum raises exciting questions about how broadcasters and rightsholders can maximize the value of their media assets.

A New Way To Reach Audiences

Rightsholders increasingly need to find creative ways to capture all this content and get the most value from their assets. Audiences today use a whole range of screens and platforms to access a plethora of highlights, clips and features – often simultaneously.


For instance, analytical firm The Maru Group partnered with media insights provider Variety Intelligence Platform to produce the “Sports’ New TV Formula” survey report, which found nearly half of young NFL, NBA and MLB fans prefer watching highlights over a complete game.

The upshot for sports rightsholders is that they are increasingly investing in short, to-the-point clips to remain relevant among younger fans. They must get their live content onto social media, catch-up, streaming and other VOD platforms as quickly as possible or risk losing interest from this lucrative audience.

Shifting content from live to social media and other on-demand channels has been a challenging process that has traditionally taken some broadcasters hours, even days, due to the content needing to be recorded by a production company and then processed through internal systems. The high-quality recorded file might be 300 GB or larger and must be transcoded and trimmed before being pushed to the VOD platform.

The good news is cloud-based production tools and workflows enable rightsholders to hugely accelerate this process and get their clips onto social, streaming and other VOD platforms in near real time. The process is faster because the streaming and the clipping and editing are concurrent with the live feed — either allowing the clips to be published in the same format as they appear live and eliminating the need to decorate the feed with graphics and overlays or from a clean feed and using custom graphics and overlays specific for the new audience.

A cloud-based approach can offer a much more streamlined workflow than traditional broadcast setups and cuts the VOD publishing time to minutes or even seconds rather than days.

Maintaining Quality

There is no need to sacrifice quality with a cloud-based approach despite the rapid live-to-VOD shift. The production output is recorded live anyway, so the content is already in a suitable condition for VOD delivery. It’s recorded straight in the cloud — where the clipping and editing is also done — so highlights and any other feeds can then be posted directly to social media virtually in real-time. The result is broadcasters and other rightsholders can post highlights as a game, live concert or awards show is unfolding live and share real-time reports during breaks.

The crucial advantage of the cloud-based approach is speed. Viewers can be immersed in game results, award wins and news headlines through social feeds or other push notifications. Rightsholders risk losing their interest if they don’t deliver quickly enough. As the lines between live and on-demand continue to blur, the cloud and its rapid clipping and editing capabilities empower broadcasters and other live event producers to significantly extend the lifespan of their content while meeting the demands and expectations of emerging audiences.

Robert Szabo-Row is SVP engineering and product management at The Switch.

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