Driving the Digital Difference

First published on deltatre.

Below is reported an interview published on Sports Media and Finance where Kevin Roberts, Editorial Director at SportBusiness Group, interviews deltatre’s Chief Commercial Officer International, Ciaran Quinn. The piece explores Quinn’s views on the sports industry as a whole, covers the global development of deltatre throughout major sporting events and focuses on his thoughts regarding the drive of the latest digital tendencies that are changing and developing the sport consumption.

Ciaran Quinn has international experience in digital media dating to the first days of the consumer Internet and digital interactive TV. He has worked on ground breaking online broadcast and sporting projects that haver radically changed and improved the ways people access content.

Since 2008 he has been at deltatre, leading their efforts in the Olympic Games, the Americas and deltatre’s innovative DIVA product. He is a member of the deltatre management team.

What have been the biggest game changers in sports media in the past decade?
Digital media consumption has exploded as a result of the availability of connected devices, clear revenue models, increased fan demand, better federation understanding, more sponsor attention, multi-platform rights deals and, on a like-for-like basis, declining technology costs.

How has the depth of fan engagement with sports media content changed and how can it be measured?
Total hours of viewer consumption is a great measure for digital sports video engagement. This is measured by individual platform as well as by aggregating the quantity of viewer hours across all platforms. For digital platforms this will normally be in tens of millions of hours for a good-sized broadcaster showing a major international sporting event.

Use viewer hours plus the total number of unique individuals accessing a sporting property as well as the frequency of their return and you’ve got a decent overview.

NBC provided some great per-user statistics for the last Summer Olympic Games regarding the total consumption of content by consumers. In the US the per-user consumption increased with the number of devices the consumers used to access the Games. Just TV? About 3.5 hours a day per viewer.

The average number increased for users of 2 platforms, and increased again for users of 3 platforms. For those who accessed the Games with TV + PC + smartphone + tablet the total hours per day doubled to approximately 7 hours per day. Granted, the user base declined as the number of platforms increased, but the fact is that the availability of platforms increased consumption and engagement.

Driving the digital difference

Is technology opening up new sports to fresh audiences?
Yes, but quite importantly it’s helping retain audiences that might otherwise go elsewhere. Broadcast TV audiences have been aging up materially over the past decade as younger audiences access content via the devices that are most appropriate for them – often not the TV. The wisest broadcasters acquire multi-platform rights and invest to make the rights available to fans across all major devices, and in doing so retain their audience if not increase them.

Which sports properties in particular are making the best use of digital technology?
Football, Olympic Games, major US sports leagues are all doing great things, as are some leading broadcasters around the world. Since mid-tier federations don’t get wide global TV coverage the wisest ones are now paying extra attention to the benefits of digital technology.

How is the second screen becoming more commercially important and what business models are there for monetising it?
For me it’s not just ‘second screen’ but also many ‘first screens’. Mobile/Tablet consumption is well above 30% of digital consumption for most sports we deal with. We design services differently for the various devices because the consumption dynamic is different.

What impact will the trend for consumption of sport in bite size chunks have on sports media sector?
Long-form and short-form will co-exist well together – different forms for different users in different “use cases”. The trick is being able to offer this to consumers in a great, seamless way. With our Diva service we’ve created a terrific way to blend the two together. We’ve now applied this to a dozen major sports and the consumer take-up is fantastic.

Is the role of ‘traditional’ broadcasters under threat as technology develops?
Yes it is. The traditional broadcasters have audiences and rights. But as TV audiences age up, these rights holders need to offer what the consumer wants or they will go elsewhere. And piracy is always a threat. I think that the incumbent rights holders are in the position to offer great new services that can’t be pirated (i.e., much more than just a digital video stream), thereby offering a far better “carrot”. If they don’t yet know how to do this, all they need to do is call deltatre.
We can help.

Given the richness of the digital media experience, what’s the future of the live event?
Attending the live event is impacted by improved off-venue experiences. But the venues, federations, clubs, teams and leagues are working hard to improve the live event with better technology and more. The winner of all this is the fan – whether watching live or off-venue.

How has deltatre developed in scale and service offering and what new developments are on the cards?
We are now 500 people – more double when I joined just in 2008. We focus on three core areas: Online, Onstage and Backstage – all serving the sports industry. Digital (“Online”) is our fastest growing area but by no means our only area of expertise.

To my knowledge deltatre built the world’s first live sports event website in 1995 and has built a world-leading expertise in digital sports service over these past 19 years to complement our Onstage and Backstage areas of expertise.

At Sportel Monaco 2014 we are behind the first ever Sport-Specific Startup Competition. Our goal is to help shine the spotlight on innovative sports ideas from anybody, not just from deltatre, for the entire sporting world to see. Sportel has kindly granted day-passes to participants.

How did you get into the sport media business?
In 2003 I was GM Europe for a US company that had digital security services that helped combat piracy. Originally focused on TV and music I thought that we could do great things for sports.

I rang up the IOC to address the poor depth of TV coverage (as a result of thousands of hours of content and sometimes more than 20 concurrent events) and to offer digital media services that I thought could make things far better for fans, rights holders and the IOC.
Come to Lausanne and tell us more, I was told.

One thing led to another, and for the Athens Olympic Games we implemented the first widespread legal distribution of Olympic sporting content to various rights holders in Europe and North America.

What are the biggest challenges of your current role?
1) Time – not enough of it.
2) Prioritization – we’ve got many, many great things we can do at deltatre, but have to wisely select the most important ones.

Not easy.

And what do you enjoy best about it?
In addition to working with some of the greatest people in our industry, full of expertise, passion and motivation, I love making things better for the sports fan – myself included. Helping the fan connect better to the sport, and giving the rights owners, federations and organizers the tools to help them connect better to their stakeholders is great.

What we delivered for London 2012 was what I had barely dreamed of 9 years earlier – global success and a watershed digital moment.

It was thrilling to help turn the concept of great digital consumption to something that has been appreciated by so many – and will be used by more than a billion fans during the Rio Olympic Games.

What are your personal sporting passions?
I love international sporting events – the Olympic Games, FIFA events, athletics, rugby, cycling and more.


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