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How German company Onefootball is succeeding in the OTT streaming landscape

Following the growth of on-demand content and ever-increasing consumer choices, broadcasters are now becoming unable to dictate what will be shown to their audiences and at what times.

In today’s world, through viewing habits and data from user accounts, it is actually the opposite.

It is now up to those broadcasters to analyse this data and provide an attractive package at the right price to bring in the consumer.

Founded in 2008, Onefootball is one of Europe’s leaders in regards to investing in and recognising this trend.

This includes strategic decisions the company has made securing deals with Sky Deutschland and Eleven Sports. This allows them to show matches from multiple leagues around the world, through a pay-per-view, live streaming partnership.

Live matches can be streamed through their official app, including games from the 2. Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal. Onefootball gives their growing young audience an attractive yet simple proposition: the opportunity to choose the games they want to watch.

Their model also allows consumers to sign up to a shorter and more convenient payment plan, instead of a costly long-term subscription.

“It’s our response to the ever-changing media landscape characterised by rights fragmentation and expensive subscription models,” said Onefootball CEO, Lucas von Cranach after the announcement of his company’s partnership with Sky Deutschland and Eleven Sports.

Von Cranach added: “Modern football fans want to consume live content in a more flexible, easily accessible way. They want to consume it when they want, where they want and how they want – and all of this at a reasonable price.”

Onefootball may have taken inspiration from NBA’s juggernaut streaming service League Pass, which also allows fans to pick and choose content that suits them. This promotes growth in engagement for the sport as a whole, whilst strengthening direct-to-fan relationships.

Despite this, different sports and services will not thrive if they are all identical. To have a successful OTT streaming service, differing needs have to be addressed.

These needs will likely change over time as Von Cranach explains.

“The industry needs to adapt to the evolving consumer behaviour. It’s about understanding and anticipating the highly sophisticated needs of younger generations – that’s the key” (as posted in FC Business).

Onefootball is driven by Sportradar OTT. Sportradar is a company founded in Norway, that collects and analyses sports data. Therefore, Onefootball can access these insights from the data collected and ensure an improved experience for users through gamifications aspects and overlays.

For example, statistical overlays can be implemented to highlight information that will complement footage of a match. Gamifications such as polls and quizzes will look to keep viewers engaged to the platform for a longer duration.

The rights holder is also informed about how to showcase their digital ecosystem in the best financially rewarding way.

When you combine all these factors and other insights which are taken from user data, you have the ingredients for a successful OTT service.

With regards to these OTT services, the ability to tweak your output and monetisation methods, based on viewer habits, is already a proven game changer.

Whilst linear broadcasts do still have a place in media consumption in the modern world, it lacks the insights and clarity you get through OTT.

Whether focusing on how content has fared or finding the best way to monetise it, OTT services provide rights holders with much needed guidance in their video strategy.

This is a win for the content producers who see what consumers want and how they should make it profitable. The user also benefits, as their viewing is influencing the content they are seeing.

Onefootball look like they are set to reap the rewards of listening to the market as they continue to head in the direction of effectively using audience data.

Their fan-focused strategy highlights why they are viewed as one of the most advanced players in the industry, with their affiliation with Sportradar OTT providing the foundations for this continued growth.

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game. Follow him on Twitter @PhilipPanas

3G pitches to help clubs in a post-COVID world

As football clubs around the world deal with the COVID-19 health crisis, the future use of more artificial pitches could help organisations navigate around these financially distressing times.

That is at least the view of former FA technical director Dan Ashworth, stating that the FIFA-approved football turf provides opportunities for clubs to host various events and pursue the development of their own academies.

In the UK, Maidstone United were the first ever English club to build a brand-new stadium using the highest quality 3G artificial surface.

That was in 2012, and since then, other notable clubs in the non-league divisions including Sutton United, Harrogate Town and Bromley have all made the move (in the National League) and installed 3G pitches.

The English Football League have considered allowing 3G fields in League 1 and 2, however, a vote in 2014 on the matter was tied.

This means that any club playing on an artificial pitch has to remove the surface if they want to be promoted into the EFL, even though 3G fields are allowed for the Women’s World Cup, Champions League and many other professional leagues in Europe.

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Joint-owner of Maidstone United Oliver Ash believes Dan Ashwoth is right in saying 3G pitches should be a prominent option for EFL clubs impacted financially by COVID-19.

He told fcbusiness: “With this terrible Covid-19 crisis affecting so many people and damaging so many football clubs, which are vital to their communities, we have to think outside the box if we are to avoid financial meltdown.

“Going forward it will all be about sustainability. Clubs will have to find ways of making their businesses sustainable in the interests of their supporters and their actual survival. One obvious way of achieving this is by installing a 3G pitch.

“We have now had five years’ experience of 3G pitches in the National League. We have seen supporters and players embrace the change in playing surface; we have seen that the highest quality 3G pitches encourage good football but also allow physical players to get stuck in; we have seen no particular injury problems, a welcome absence of postponements, and local people coming in their droves to watch and play football at our clubs seven days a week. It’s been life-changing in a totally positive way.”

Ash estimates that those clubs who decide to use 3G fields can generate a further £400,000 worth of income a year. This is the case because of direct pitch-hire revenue as well as indirect earnings from supporters coming into the club. Savings are also made on maintenance and postponements.

Using his own club as an example, Ash explained Maidstone United have registered a profit every season since the pitch was installed eight years ago.

“We know and respect the fact that some people still prefer to play on natural surfaces, even down in League 2, where pitch quality is inconsistent,” he said.

“However, the benefits of 3G pitches are so massive and the problems facing football so huge, it would be irrational not to give League 2 clubs the option to install them without delay and take advantage of the opportunity to transform their clubs into sustainable businesses capable of surviving this crisis and thriving thereafter,” he concluded.

Maidstone United, Sutton United, Bromley and Harrogate Town are the leaders in advocating for change in the EFL.

With leading experts in the game looking to restructure football in some capacity, what is generally the norm may be no more.

One day in the near future, these clubs could have access to the EFL without having to give up their 3G pitches.

On a local front, are 3G pitches a suitable idea for NPL and A-League clubs? Get in touch with us via email or our social channels.

Katholos and Spanoudakis – Players who know best

In this age of uncertainty, Australian football faces great challenges to maintain prosperity in the professional sporting environment.

The decision makers would assure the football fraternity,  the right decisions are being made by the  people who are responsible for the governance of the game.

However, the history of the game is highlighted by the failure to provide former players the opportunity to contribute  in their life after football.

Many of these players have succeeded in the business world but have never been sighted by the hierarchy.

In 1992, the former Socceroo great, Marshall Soper, commented the game was all about administrators, not players.

Two former players who have succeeded in the business world are former Sydney Olympic team-mates, Peter Katholos and Manny Spanoudakis.

Katholos commenced a business in the manufacture and supply of football equipment while still playing professionally, has applied his electronics background in telecommunications and pursued extensive property and development interests.

Spanoudakis’s specialty was in electronic engineering with Unisys and is now General Manager of Sales for global technology company, Cisco Systems, in the Asia Pacific region.

In this interview with Roger Sleeman, Katholos and Spanoudakis provide their insights into Australian football.

 

ROGER SLEEMAN

With the restart of the A- League, what are your views on the current state of the game?

MANNY SPANOUDAKIS

Like all fans, I’ve missed the game and it wasn’t before time that the League was recommenced.

Ironically, the pandemic is an inflexion point for the stakeholders to reassess the existing status of the key areas of operational, technical and administrative procedures, and to implement necessary change.

PETER KATHOLOS

The restart was critical because if the League wasn’t to be completed, it could’ve potentially led to its premature demise.

Some players and coaches haven’t returned and without a competition, there was no publicity and the League became a distant memory.

However, the game probably required a reset so it could come out stronger at the other end.

ROGER SLEEMAN

What was your opinion of the playing standard before the halt?

MANNY SPANOUDAKIS

Watching overseas football with no crowds over the last few months has given me the opportunity to reflect and compare against the standard of the A League. Whilst the tempo, skill and intensity overseas is more advanced than the A League, turnover of possession and defensive frailties even at the most elite level are still there to be seen. That said, the standard of the A League still has significant scope for improvement in order to be compared with most European leagues.

PETER KATHOLOS

There are a couple of good teams in the League but it’s far from exciting as there is an absence of creative players.

I watched Leeds United v Stoke City a few weeks ago in the English Championship and it was breathtaking.

It highlighted the speed, technique and intensity which is lacking in our game and the bottom line is broadcasters woudn’t be pulling out of A-League coverage ,and subscriptions wouldn’t have been declining so consistently in the last few seasons if the product was better.

ROGER SLEEMAN

What is your view on the XI Principles for the future of Australian football, recently released?

MANNY SPANOUDAKIS

The document is voluminous so it’s better to consider the main points.

Point number 1 refers to the requirement for a strong brand and identity. I believe the Socceroos and Matildas already have a strong affinity with even the most casual sports fan across Australia. However, at the domestic level, promotion and marketing of the A League is almost non existant.

The awarding of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup will certainly increase awareness of our sport across all demographics and we should look to leverage this great event to amplify the A League at every opportunity.

PETER KATHOLOS

To improve the identity of the game, there has to be consistent marketing for the benefit of the sporting public.

People are aware we qualified for the last four World Cups which we should continually market to the masses.

Personally, I was pretty disturbed by the total lack of coverage when the A-League and NPL competitions ceased at the start of the Pandemic.

ROGER SLEEMAN

On that note, what are your thoughts about the viewing audience last Saturday for Central Coast v Perth of 9,000 compared to NRL of 804,000 and AFL 978,000.

MANNY SPANOUDAKIS

Before their seasons recommenced, the other codes launched their publicity machines and people knew what was happening.

Honestly,  I wasn’t aware that Sydney FC played Wellington in the first match of A- league until I saw the score the day after.

Also, I didn’t know about the Central Coast match so the message is, there has to be some money spent on promotion because I didn’t see any advertising for the A-League.

PETER KATHOLOS

The figures don’t lie which suggests the A-League isn’t exactly capturing the imagination of the sporting public.

ROGER SLEEMAN

Point 3 of the Principles highlights payments in the transfer system.

Your thoughts about player transfer payments.

MANNY SPANOUDAKIS

In order to stimulate the football economy, the most immediate focus should be for the establishment of a transfer system across all levels of football in Australia.

For example, I remember in 1989, Zlatko Arambasic was an up and coming striker playing for Canterbury Marrickville Olympic in the NSW Super League. Blacktown City was in the NSL and paid a $50,000 transfer fee to secure his services.

If NPL clubs can generate revenue from developing players, they can reinvest in better facilities and coaching which sustains the football economy.

PETER KATHOLOS

We need a vibrant and sustainable development system so the NPL clubs can be rewarded via a transfer system which provides the resources for them to continue to churn out quality players for the A- League and the national teams.

ROGER SLEEMAN

Point 5 in the Principles refers to creating a world class environment for youth development.

Your take on this.

MANNY SPANOUDAKIS

The whole youth development system needs to be revamped and a funding structure established.

In order to improve the end product, we need a 5-10 year plan which entails developing better youth coaches and investing more in player education.

Parent education also has a key role to play in assisting youth development because up to 80% of the player’s available time during the week is at home.

Consequently, nutrition, fitness levels and private practice of technique and drills have to be of the highest order.

PETER KATHOLOS

Our major objective should be to develop better players who can boost attendances and bring more money into the game with the help of companies and the government.

In the 80’s, when I played at Sydney Olympic, our star local players attracted crowds of 10-15,000 without much promotion.

If you raise standards, more money will naturally flow into the game and also players can be sold overseas providing another substantial revenue stream.

ROGER SLEEMAN

There is a severe absence of past players involved in the game.

How can this change?

MANNY SPANOUDAKIS

As a corporate manager, I believe you need football people in the key positions of financial,  operations and marketing.

Historically, the CEO role was awarded to a non-football industry candidate but times have changed and James Johnson’s appointment was a positive one and quite timely.

The previous CEO’S had a lack of emotional connection to the game so at least giant strides have been made here.

PETER KATHOLOS

There are enough football people and former players available to be involved in all areas of the game like in Europe.

When the FFA started, their executives didn’t know who we were.

The skill set of former players should be utilized in coaching, mentoring, marketing and administration.

I applaud the selection of the first eleven but the key issue is, some of these current and former players may have little business experience.

Undoubtedly, there are many former players who have succeeded in business and willing to make a contribution to the progress of the game.

ROGER SLEEMAN

Is the administration hanging its hat on the success of the Women’s World Cup bid?

MANNY SPANOUDAKIS

This is a fantastic victory for the sport as it promotes gender equality and it should be an amazing tournament.

During the difficult times, a better good news story couldn’t have happened to the sport.

PETER KATHOLOS

This was a real success after the failure of the Men’s World Cup bid and hopefully it will encourage a large commitment to building better infrastructure for the sport.

Frankly, I didn’t follow the women’s game closely until the Stajic saga prompted me to take interest.

However, I believe the players like our men, have to improve the technical side of their game if they’re going to be a threat in the tournament.

Football NSW’s NPL.TV continues to make its mark

Football NSW has announced that all National Premier Leagues NSW Women’s and National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s matches will be live streamed, exclusively on NPL.TV when matches commence this weekend.

Prior to COVID-19 halting all competitions, NPL.TV was launched as an exciting new destination for fans of NPL NSW to view games. The landmark streaming service is a key partnership between Football NSW and leading sports media and data agency Sportradar.

On NPL.TV, the platform will be fully broadcast including complete commentary for all NPL NSW Women’s and NPL 2 Men’s matches throughout the 2020 season.

NPL.TV will also stream top-tier NPL NSW Men’s and NPL NSW Men’s Under 20’s when they are due to recommence later this month.

The platform is regarded as an OTT service capable of allowing content to be streamed from mobiles to televisions via Chromecast or Airplay.

NPL.TV is free for those in Australia and accessible on all web browsers, with the option to purchase a ‘premium’ Full HD package at a small monthly cost.

Football NSW has confirmed the following opening round matches can be viewed live and exclusive on NPL.TV this weekend:

Round 1 NPL NSW Women’s

Sunday 19 July

3pm – Blacktown Spartans v North West Sydney Koalas – Blacktown Football Park

3pm – Manly United v FNSW Institute – Cromer Park

3pm – Emerging Jets v Sydney Olympic – Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility

3pm – Sydney University v Macarthur Rams Womens – Sydney University Football Ground

3:30pm – Northern Tigers v Bankstown City – North Turramurra Recreation Area

7:05pm – APIA Leichhardt v Illawarra Stingrays – Lambert Park

Round 1 NPL 2 NSW Men’s

Saturday 18 July

7pm – SD Raiders v Hills United – Ernie Smith Reserve

7pm – NWS Spirit FC v Bonnyrigg White Eagles – Christie Park

7pm – Blacktown Spartans v Central Coast Mariners – Blacktown Football Park

7pm – Northern Tigers v Newcastle Jets – North Turramurra Recreation Area No 1

Sunday 19 July

3pm – Hakoah Sydney City East v St George FC – Hensley Athletic Field

Football NSW’s move from social media streaming to Sportradar’s innovative OTT platform will allow the organisation to control the content, allowing for more in-depth and data-driven insights into the area of viewer behaviour and can outline how this can tell more engaging stories to these fans.

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