OTT sports: What the World Cup revealed about APAC’s live-linear mobile viewing habits

OTT sports: What the World Cup revealed about APAC’s live-linear mobile viewing habits

Global football fever reached all-time high over the weekend and a lot has been said since then about the significant engagement figures seen during the 2018 World Cup.

Streaming records have been broken in countries like the UK, with a significant proportion of traffic coming from mobile devices.

But what about APAC? How much of an impact did mobile streaming have on a region that (by using Netflix as a barometer) favours Connected TVs and set-top boxes as a means of consuming on-demand and OTT content?

To find out, we crunched the usage stats and engagement figures from a World Cup streaming service launched in the region and powered by TV2U’s platform.

Deploying with Indosat Ooredoo

First, some context:

  • TV2U delivered the World Cup to football fans in Indonesia for Indosat Ooredoo, a tier-one APAC operator.

The service, iStream, offered full coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in partnership with Klix, which held the rights to transmit matches in the region over IP.Streams of the games live from Russia were available via the iStream OTT TV service to subscribers in Indonesia. This revealed some interesting insights into the live-linear viewing habits of a major region in APAC.

APAC’s changing mobile live-linear viewing habits

Immediately, it was clear that the 2018 World Cup was watched by more consumers on a smartphone than any football event before it. Although subscribers could access the games on any connected device, including the region-favourite smart TV, the engagement figures showed a shifting trend:

  • Almost 65% of total fixture streams took place via smartphone.

What was also interesting is where people tuned in to watch the matches. Given that the TV2U platform offers drill-down analytics and user profiling, including location data, Indosat could see many consumers streaming the games in a hotel room or at home, as you’d imagine.

But the operator also saw many cases of subscribers pulled over at the side of the road while travelling to make sure they didn’t miss any of the action.It’s worth noting that APAC, and Indonesia by extension, is still multi-device. Although streaming sessions for on-demand services in the region often taking place via Connected TV or set-top box, and despite a significant percentage of streams during the World Cup bucking this trend by happening via mobile, consumers do engage with streaming content on other devices. They did so during the World Cup too.

Live-linear continues to score for OTT sports, if providers can meet demand

With the engagement data from iStream, we can also glean what this trend may mean for the region when it comes to live-linear sports content in the future.

It’s predicted that live-linear OTT viewing will outpace traditional TV by 2022. Indonesia is a good measure for this with a population of over 260 million. Much like the rest of Asia, Indonesia is also at the forefront of what’s possible in regard to streaming media and content delivery. Or, at least it is for service providers that get their back-end infrastructure right.

The shift we’ve seen with APAC consumers around the World Cup seems to marry with the current inflexion point in sports streaming across the board. Despite a high initial barrier to entry when it comes to acquiring sports content rights – with market value expected to soon hit $5 billion in APAC– there’s been a rise of live sports TV and OTT sports streaming services in recent years.

These platforms have tapped into demand for streaming content at a more affordable price point than what’s offered by pay TV platforms. And in many cases, particularly for developing markets, it’s been ISPs and mobile operators that are starting to take the most advantage.

Reach vs revenue will continue to be an ongoing argument, but OTT sports is undoubtedly a growing opportunity. More so when you factor in what’s possible from a more targeted advertising perspective through multi-level personalisation. However, it’s not without challenge. From a purely technological point of view, this has traditionally boiled down to two main considerations:

  • Bandwidth limitations
  • Quality of Experience concerns

Yet it’s necessary to consider ‘chatty’ network elements too, such as the analytics and piracy prevention technologies underpinning service security. These can become resource intensive when run at scale, which can make delivery over congested networks difficult during periods of high demand.

As consumer tolerance for choppy service performance is no different regardless of when or where they’re streaming content, the onus is naturally on the streaming platform to better mitigate this.

Getting the underlying technology right

The World Cup, particularly given the many service providers that encountered issues, has put a spotlight on the technology underpinning OTT streaming services for future deployments and raised the bar for future live events – sports or otherwise.It’s a good example of how a platform with in-built proprietary analytics and security functionality can be the best defensive tactic to unpredictable spikes in traffic or delivery networks suffering from high packet loss.

Interested in how TV2U can help?

Contact us or take a look at the IVAN delivery platform technical document.