For several weeks each March, millions from across the country make the transformation from sports fan into data scientist. In anticipation of the annual NCAA March Madness tournament, viewers pour over stats and projections to craft the perfect bracket before tip-off. While March Madness fervor hasn’t changed significantly since soaring into popularity in the late 1970s, the way fans enjoy the tournament has. Untethered from the traditional TV set, viewers are increasingly turning to live streaming. In fact, March Madness 2017 set a new record with 69.1 million live streams, and you can expect to see additional growth this year once the final numbers are tallied.
Just as viewers are embracing new channels to enjoy live sports, they’re also hungry for supplementary, engaging experiences. Enjoying March Madness isn’t limited to the time sitting in front of a screen, but through companion applications, exclusive interviews, customizable screens and other premium content that enables viewers to create a unique and personalized way to consume content. For sports viewing in the digital era, there is no one-size-fits all solution that caters to such a diverse audience. Broadcasters need to hand the reins to viewers, enabling them to curate their own broadcast. Through the transformative technologies available today, there’s never been a greater opportunity to meet and exceed the expectations of die-hard fans.
While these immersive experiences may receive the spotlight during the two-and-a-half week tournament, leading networks have already begun to take this personalized approach to the viewing experience, weaving extra dimensions and content across a variety of sports. Broadcasters and traditional cable providers alike are partnering to offer consumers the widest range of digital content, including additional vantage points, stat break downs and interactive multi-screen offerings. Staying ahead in a competitive, increasingly mobile environment means creating an experience that can be tailored at the most granular level. During March Madness, for example, viewers can build screen experiences to highlight specific players, historic performance against individual teams, or simply background information to help support a larger narrative around each game.
As live streaming continues to grow in popularity among sports viewers, it is a signal that broadcasters need to take a holistic approach. Sports has always been, and will continue to be, highly communal – the traditional offerings found at home or at a sports bar should be a core part of network strategy. That said, it needs to support an experience that prioritizes the viewer, whatever preferences they may have. Mobile technology has enabled viewers to engage with sporting events whether they’re watching courtside, on their living room TV set or on a smart phone. As broadcasters embrace these new opportunities, it sets a new standard for the viewing experience during March Madness and throughout the year.
Learn more about consumer expectations for the live viewing experience here.