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Sportrecs: Helping sports to overcome video distribution and monetisation challenges

Anatoly Vorontsov, CEO and founder of Moscow-based streaming platform Sportrecs.com, describes how the company is working with sports rights-holders to monetise their content

Anatoly Vorontsov, CEO and founder (right) and Ivan Katanaev, deputy CEO of Sportrecs.com with the Start-up of the year Award at the 2020 Sport Business Awards – the biggest sports business event in the CIS region.

Are there any specific sports that Sportrecs is targeting with its services?

Sportrecs is a free streaming and video monetisation platform for any sports league, federation, club or agency that does not have the budget and capabilities to build their own OTT platform and, either earn very little from their media rights, or do not make any money from them at all. We have built a complete and easy to use platform for them to create and monetise their video across all sports.

Therefore, the answer is no, there are no more interesting or favorite sports for us. We love sport in all its forms.

We also offer premium rights-holders, who already have their own OTT solutions, a full range of marketing tools that enable them to reach specific goals. For example, they can increase the number of subscribers on their OTT platform or expand their media coverage in certain geographical areas.

We are building a home for sports content, where every sports rights holder will have an opportunity to overcome their video distribution and monetisation challenges, and fans from all over the world will eventually have access to an unrivalled range of sports content. Why can we offer this to rights-holders for free? Simple. We use the revenue share model. The more the rights-holder earns, the more we earn. We work every day to help make rights-holders successful and share in their success.

What challenges do you see in the market and how is Sportrecs helping sports rights-holders overcome these?

The pandemic has significantly shaken up the sports market across the world. But it also forced everyone to look at the media business from the other side. Having a properly structured video archive is more critical than ever. The world’s leading sports leagues, filled the lion’s share of the resulting vacuum with archive content. However, non-premium rights-holders realized that they do not have an archive of games from previous seasons to work with. This forced their commercial and broadcast executives to focus their efforts on addressing this. We provide them with all the tools to solve this challenge and immediately start creating, distributing, managing and monetising their video content.

Secondly, we know how important it is for sports rights-holders to understand their fans in order to communicate with them, grow loyalty and monetize more effectively. This is often why premium rights-holders build their own OTT platform. Building an OTT platform is not a panacea. The costs to develop, maintain and promote it are often underestimated. For non-premium rights-holders, platforms like Instagram, Facebook or Youtube and other free services simply don’t allow them to collect meaningful data on their fans. We share all fan data with our rights-holder clients. Why would you spend a lot of money to build and run your own streaming platform or use a platform that is not sharing fan data with you?

Can you give us some examples of how Sportrecs enables rights-holders to get to know their fans better?

We have a great feature which enables rights-holders to make content available “only to fans” on a dedicated ‘arena’ channel on Sportrecs. In order to subscribe, you need to register and leave your email, which is used to receive an access code. Thanks to this option, sports rights-holders can quickly attract subscribers and then send notifications about upcoming broadcasts or new content.

We also just released a unique widget that we call a “click to action” button. It is a button that can be installed on any video inside the Sportrecs video player through which you can sell tickets, subscriptions, merchandise and souvenirs, make promos with your partners, and you can collect phone numbers or emails of your fans for your CRM system.

What advantages are there to rights-holders for placing their content on your platform versus other similar operators?

First of all, we are a sports service. This means that there is nothing on our platform but sports. You won’t compete for the viewer’s attention with music videos, bloggers, movies or esports, as that type of content currently sits on popular services like YouTube, Twitch or Facebook. We have sports fans who come to watch sports and sports only, which means they connect to the community of like-minded people.

Secondly, our existing partners tell us that Sportrecs is the most complete sports streaming and video monetization platform that they have seen. Our platform is easy to use while offering sports rights-holders all the tools they need to create, distribute, manage and monetise their content:

  • Do you need to create highlights during the broadcast and immediately publish them in your social networks? No problem with that.
  • You sold your video betting rights and you need to deliver a stream to your partners? We have a restream option and we can send your signal to any partner with minimal delay.
  • Do you want to increase your video content monetization? We have new advertising and sponsorship formats that allow you to  attract more commercial partners.
  • Do you need to connect a commentator from another city or even country? Welcome to our virtual studio.
  • Do you want to sell PPV or subscriptions to your content? We accept about 200 currencies and payments worldwide – start selling today.
  • Give your fans more options – co-viewing, click-games, voting.

And don’t forget about our streaming application, which allows you to broadcast any sports events and add basic graphics to the broadcast. Through Sportrecs, sports leagues and federations sell their video betting rights directly to bookmakers and earn extra money.

Many non-premium sports rights-holders are experiencing revenue shortfalls. What sort of revenue models do you use to help them monetize their rights?

We have listened to sports rights-holders and built for them a full range of monetization tools. We offer end-to-end advertising on all content – multi-rolls (pre-, mid-, pause, and post-rolls). We sell these ads ourselves and share the profit 50/50 with the rights holder.

Other monetisation strategies include:

Sponsorship: We have new advertising formats which each sports rights-holder can sell independently. Just like you sell ads on t-shirts, billboards at venues or in a broadcast today, you can sell sponsorship of your video content. And most importantly, all such ads are clickable (the sponsor receives a detailed report), do not interrupt the viewing and do not annoy the user.

Paid subscriptions: You can sell a PPV or subscription access to your content, setting prices, terms of access, discounts and promo codes yourself.

Video betting rights:  These are a separate type of rights that allow betting companies to place videos on their sites. On our service we connect sports leagues and federations with betting companies – rights-holders can set the price themselves, while betting companies see the available content and directly buy streams for their website. All technical support with signal delivery is provided by Sportrecs.

You’ve launched with a focus on CIS states. How many countries are you operating in now, and where do you plan to expand distribution to?

Yes, we started with the CIS market, because it’s our home – this market is well understood and known to us. But today we have partners from more than 40 countries around the world. We are growing very quickly and creating a global service. Our parent company is located in London and in the next 2 years we plan to start working in every developed country in the world. We have already found strong partners and signed partnership agreements in Brazil and India. Our website is translated into English, Russian, Portuguese and Hindi. The French version will be added soon. We are open to any cooperation and aim to grow through local partnerships, which give us a strong regional representative in each country.

You previously said you were planning a fivefold increase in the number of rights-holder partners as well as reaching 1bn views. How close have you come to achieving that ambition?

By the end of 2021, we will have 2,500-3,000 rights-holders and at least 30 million unique views per month. Today, we are confidently moving towards this target.

Today, our model is B2B2C – we do a lot for rights-holders, we have created a whole set of services for them to work with their video content. The next stage is services for fans. This includes co-viewing (Watch Together), when fans can join rooms and watch their teams’ games together, as well as all sorts of click-games that can be used to fill in pauses and breaks, voting, and various interactivity. Loading data feeds and visualizing them. Some of this has already been done and is already working, for example, fans can switch between cameras if we receive several video feeds from the stadium. But we are preparing to unveil a lot of new things for the fans this summer.

How do you think the viewing demands of the latest generation of fans have changed (eg: chat functionality, betting gamification etc.) and how do you serve these demands?

More than anyone else, we can see how dramatically the viewing of sports has changed around the world including an explosive growth in the popularity of highlights, new social platforms and new video formats. This has made it more challenging for sports rights owners to maintain the average time fans spend watching their content. We follow all trends very closely and work to maximize the engagement of fans with the content. The most attractive feature of any sport is the community that is created around athletes, teams, sports, tournaments. Sport does not only motivate people to choose a healthy lifestyle and train their body, but it also contributes to the creation of a community. And today, it is often only virtual communities, especially at times when most of the fans cannot go to the stadium or even gather in a bar to watch their team or athlete. Therefore, the services that will help create such virtual communities – ‘watch together’, online games and live voting – meet the needs of today’s sports fans and Sportrecs is very actively working in this direction.

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