Sports streaming: how can brands be part of the action?
From braving the rain in a crowded football stadium to watching multiple matches on just as many screens, the way fans watch sports has evolved over the years.
The odds are in favor of sports streaming being an open goal for all players involved
However, the shared experience of coming together for a big win (or commiserating over a devastating loss) remains the same.
The rise of sports streaming creates even more opportunities for connection. Fans can now customize their viewing experience more than ever before, and brands can engage audiences in these memorable moments – moments when they are not only tuned in, but on the edge of their seats, eyes glued to the screen.
The evolution of live sports streaming
Streaming is quickly catching up to live TV as the most popular way to watch live sports. A global YouGov study conducted in January 2020 revealed that consumers aged 18-24 are more than twice as likely as those over 55 to watch sports via livestream. This new wave of media globalization is providing unique opportunities for brands to connect with engaged audiences from all over the world while providing customized experiences.
And as the viewing formats evolve, so does the content – with sports ads becoming far more than just commercials. First launched in 2015, Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ campaign that encouraged women to take part in sport by helping them overcome fear of judgment, has inspired global social movements. Within a few months of its launch, an independent study discovered that the campaign had influenced 2.8 million women to engage in a more active lifestyle. ‘This Girl Can’ is now a well-established campaign that encourages women and girls to exercise regardless of their body type, sporting ability.
Live sports streaming is an actively growing space, and with such an engaged audience it means plenty of exciting opportunities for brands. Prime Video is uniquely positioned to broadcast content globally with more than 200M Prime members around the world . And now, Prime Video is helping to bring live sports to more rugby, tennis, and football fans than ever before.
To illustrate this point, between September 2020 - May 2021, just over 13% of live English Premier League football matches drew audiences of over two million. In December 2021, Prime Video attracted an estimated four million viewers for a single English Premier League football match, making it the most-watched Premier League match ever on the service .
With the acquisition of the rights to the UEFA Champions League – the pinnacle of European football – in the UK from 2024 onwards, Prime Video is signaling its intent to focus on bringing customers the sports they care about, and making Prime Video the destination for sports streaming. The brands that can differentiate their advertising within live sports streaming and offer the most relevant and engaging experiences will ultimately increase their chances of building awareness at scale.
Piers Heaton-Armstrong, vice-president of EU advertising sales at Amazon, says: “We know the reach for live streaming sports is huge and growing, which benefits the game and brands too. There are no fans quite like sports fans. They’re a passionate and deeply authentic audience.”
Being part of the action
Today’s emerging audiences demand entertainment experiences that move beyond passive observation into fluid, interactive experiences , and that’s why livestreaming service Twitch, with its interactive chat and ability to watch content as a group, is increasingly becoming home to sports fans and stars.
Sports is one of the most popular non-gaming categories on Twitch. Twitch streamers host “second screen” commentary shows discussing the latest sports news and events, before and after matches, alongside their communities. Twitch has also developed a new tool - Guest Star (currently in Beta) - which allows streamers to bring guest streamers and viewers onto their stream, removing the need for third-party applications.
This year, Spanish football league LaLiga teamed up with Twitch to bring some of the most celebrated Spanish streamers to the commentary boxes of LaLiga Santander football stadiums. The Sportscasters by Twitch program offers streamers the opportunity to share their perspectives on the match while bringing their communities closer to the action .
With streamers creating hybrid experiences to reach viewers both on and offline, brands have an opportunity to be part of - and even elevate - these memorable fan moments. Brands can step in to provide value in the form of snacks and hydration, uniforms, or post-race entertainment.
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Knowing – and delivering – what sports fans want
If you are showing something that people want to see, they will by-and-large seek it out. The fundamentals of broadcasting remain the same – but what’s changed is the way fans engage with live sports. One example of this is sports analytics, and viewers’ endless access to them via digital channels.
Prime Video sports broadcaster, Simon Thomas, notes at Amazon Ads’ recent IAB Upfront event: “As a broadcast team we need to be mindful of this and reflect that constantly in our coverage. I’m always referring to the statistics when drafting my notes in real-time ahead of our next interaction with the audience.”
Thomas explains that viewers have also come to expect – and almost demand – close-up access to the players when watching live football matches. “You’re highly unlikely, at the moment, to get cameras into a premier-league dressing room live,” he says. “But viewers want that close-up interaction.”
To create this close-up interaction that streaming has made viewers familiar with, Prime Video has ditched the sterile studio environment and sent Thomas to the side of the sports pitch, immersing him in the action and bringing sports fans one step closer to the real thing.
Given the seismic cultural impact of the Women’s Euros in the UK this summer and major sports events this winter, there are more exciting new opportunities for brands and fans to connect than ever before.
All in all, the odds are in favor of sports streaming being an open goal for all players involved.
 Amazon earnings Q2, 2021
 Amazon earnings Q4, 2021
 Value of Twitch. Twitch Research, September to December 2021, US, DE, JP, BR, UK, FR, IT, ES, AU, KR, TH, TW
 LaLiga extends partnership with Twitch into live commentary, 2022, Digital TV Europe
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