Streaming sports nabs more viewers (and network capacity) in 2019
In an age when “appointment television” is a nearly-dead concept (outside of Game of Thrones at least), people still go out of their way to make sure they catch their favorite team or player live.
We’ve seen it firsthand here at AppNeta. Take the latest Masters Tournament: Ahead of Tiger Woods taking home his first title trophy in over a decade, TVs, computers, tablets and phones across our Boston office were streaming the initial rounds on Friday morning, as illustrated in this Usage Chart we pulled on the day.
The nature of streaming today demands not only increasing network capacity but also speed. All major streaming services make use of Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) or work to reduce the geographic distance between app server and viewer. That is why when looking at the total network capacity in Usage, Akamai appears as the source of our broadcast stream (we can verify the endpoint over time by targeting https://www.masters.com and identifying the ASN and DNS-resolved IP address).
Above we can see that Akamai was using up nearly as much network capacity as all of our standard business apps combined at that point in time. That’s not to say our team wasn’t hard at work throughout the day, but when you consider all of the different ways people engage with broadcast sports in the “streaming era,” this lopsided-usage begins to make sense.
It’s been a growing trend of late that when people engage with sporting events, they do so across platforms and devices. While a fan may be streaming March Madness on their HDTV, for instance, they could also be betting on their laptop, streaming a competing broadcast on their phone, and participating in a live fan forum from their tablet -- all different means of engaging with the game that put unique demands on network capacity.
Fans are also willing to pay a premium for this kind of content. According to a recent report from streaming company Deltatre, fans spend five times as much on sports streaming than they do on Netflix. As a result, sports content distributors worldwide already invest 15 percent of their total budgets on streaming, and operators stateside are expected to invest more than $6.8 billion on OTT technology by 2021.
From 2017 to 2018, the report found, the total number of minutes spent streaming sports rose 53 percent, while the number of paying subscribers jumped 24 percent year-over-year.
So with so much money to be made in the realm of sports streaming, which, unlike scripted programming, still demands a live audience, it only makes sense that these services will proliferate. And with more people “cutting the cord” today than ever before, workers who may otherwise have to go home or to the local bar to catch a live broadcast can now take their streaming subscriptions with them to the office.
While this doesn’t mean that IT teams should go on the hunt for workers using streaming services at work, it does give network ops teams a reason to more closely monitor app performance when an event like the Masters is playing.
Teams need to keep tabs on all of the apps and users using their network -- not just those deemed business-critical -- to get a full understanding of how their network capacity is being used to prevent non-essential apps from impacting the performance of other solutions.
This requires a comprehensive monitoring tool that can take a granular look at the network while at the same time putting minimal impact on network capacity itself.