Master of Science in Sport Management Online

How Live Streaming Has Changed Sports

Technology is a catalyst for change. The Internet and social media have forced people, businesses, and brands to completely revamp how they connect, and little has changed as much as sports. Take fantasy leagues, for example. In North America alone, more than 40 million people take part in fantasy sports circuits — and almost half of them pay to do so. The driving factor of that market is the ability of technology to connect larger groups of people into fantasy leagues and offer a way to determine winners almost immediately.

Now a new technology is changing sports even more — live streaming.

A Matter of Money

Image via Flickr by ChadCooperPhotos

Televised events are one of the biggest moneymakers for the NFL. The football league gets $1 billion per season from DirecTV so that the satellite cable company can allow roughly 10 percent of its 20 million subscribers to subscribe to every game their favorite teams play. That’s a lot of money on the line – even more than fantasy leagues.

What if people stop tuning in because they can view games via live streaming? This is a question that students of sport management and marketing professionals are trying to solve because a difference in revenue means a difference in the amounts everyone makes.

Using Live Streaming

Live streaming apps give event attendees the ability to broadcast events from their perspective, and many people are doing just that. Periscope, Meerkat, and Snapchat are smartphone apps that let users broadcast live video to their followers. In Seattle, many attendees to the National Women’s Soccer League matches did just that using the Meerkat app. Participation is not limited to app users. Twitter, who owns Periscope, lets users broadcast these live events directly to their Twitter followers.

Popularity Rising

Live streaming apps may not seem like a major competitor to big cable or the NFL but they do present a credible option for people who may want to save money on their sports viewing. More importantly, live streaming apps aren’t going anywhere. They are cost-efficient, easy to use, and popular. NBC producer Lorne Michaels uses Meerkat to broadcast Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show monologue rehearsals as a way to increase shareable content and help the show go viral, and many sports teams are using their own version of the technology to connect with event attendees; The Brooklyn Nets deliver live video of their games using the “Nets Mobile App”.

The Need for Speed

In addition, because so many people are using technology and social sharing apps, it is taking up large amounts of data. Stadiums and arenas want to keep fans happy, so many are upgrading their networks to handle the type of high-density data needed to accommodate thousands of attendees. The New England Patriots, the Philadelphia Eagles, and more teams are focusing on Wi-Fi connectivity and having enough bandwidth to keep their fans happy.

Broadcast television is a dinosaur compared to new live streaming options that offer a way for users to transmit their experiences instantly to people all around the world. Three apps — Periscope, Meerkat, and Snapchat — are leading this change, and changing everything about sports.