June 2016 is a big month for soccer fans – the Copa America is well underway and the UEFA European Championship (known informally as the Euros) has kicked off in France. Every four years, the whole of Europe is gripped by soccer fever as 24 national teams and some of the world’s greatest players, compete for the Henri Delaunay trophy.
The Euros are the second most popular soccer tournament in the world after the World Cup and while the traditional broadcast networks promote their full list of planned fixtures, fans of the game are also turning to online sources in their millions to catch the latest sport-related content.
This year, France is hosting Europe’s celebration of soccer but the real winner won’t be a national team – it will be streaming and online video. While these matches break records for traditional broadcast viewing, it’s the online and streamed viewing figures that show what the future holds.
For example, England’s 2-1 win over near neighbours, Wales was watched live by a peak audience of more than nine million on the BBC1 broadcast TV channel. The BBC Sport website, which includes the mobile audience, attracted 2.3 million people. This is more than double the BBC’s previous biggest live streaming audience and is a sign of the changing way that the nation - and the world - now watches television.
The UK is not alone. A report from French e-commerce company, Vente-Privee says that one-in-five Spanish people will use computers and mobile devices to stream matches during Euro 2016. In fact, Mediaset Spain and Meridiano TV in Venezuela are broadcasting 23 matches from the finals on their television channels, with the remaining 28 fixtures to be streamed on the tournament’s official website.
A survey reported on Statista shows that 37% of responding Euro viewers stated they would be watching some of the coverage online.
These figures continue a trend that was apparent in the 2014 World Cup, which attracted a total global in-home audience of 3.2 billion, making it second only to the 2012 Olympic Games (3.6 billion) in terms of the most-watched sporting events in history. These figures were driven partly by an increase in total broadcast hours in comparison to the previous event in South Africa in 2010, but also by the rise of online streaming via mobile. In fact, over 280 million people watched games on PC or mobile, making Brazil 2014 the most digitally connected World Cup of all time.
There is no doubt that video consumption habits are changing and major sporting events are setting the benchmark for the multi-platform, social TV experience that consumers are starting to expect. As that expectation filters out to other viewing opportunities, content owners, operators, carriers and any company that wants to leverage video in their offering or promotional mix need to be able to get a service live quickly, experiment with different business models and adapt on-the-fly.
Russell Foy, CEO of SotalCloud
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