Sports properties that sit outside the established top tier have a widely recognised challenge when it comes to securing mainstream broadcast coverage.
Indeed, the ongoing struggle extends to women’s sports, which have been traditionally underserved. A 2021 study by USC (University of Southern California) and Purdue University found that 95% of all TV sports coverage in the US was of men’s competitions.
Accordingly, many international federations have explored in-house production methods. Unsurprisingly, though, the costs – including camera crew, producers and directors – have often been unsustainably expensive, making it impossible for lower-league, youth and niche sports competitions to secure the exposure they desire.
However, in an increasingly fragmented space, fans are desperate to watch their favourite teams and players, regardless of the level of competition. Simultaneously, advertisers and sponsors want more brand exposure via coverage, and international federations know that providing exposure opportunities across all competition tiers is an essential pillar of expansion.
With this in mind, sports federations and leagues of all sizes are increasingly turning to Pixellot for cost-effective solutions, as CEO Alon Werber explains.
What opportunity is there for the longtail of emerging and niche sports to navigate a sports media landscape that many believe is already saturated with bigger properties?
AW: “In a media landscape that continues to shift from television to digital, fans are increasingly consuming sport on their terms – and for a variety of reasons, the need for live coverage is acute in today’s world.
“Live coverage expands the fan base, by helping to make sports more accessible for them as well as providing sport enthusiasts with more sport content. This is particularly important for viewers who live in areas where there are not many top-level teams and, accordingly, this can help to create a sense of community and give people a sense of pride and ownership in the teams they follow.
“No less important is the opportunity it affords for talented and dedicated athletes who need a platform to showcase their skills and attract the attention of scouts and coaches. Above all, live coverage can make a sport more sustainable by generating revenues for federations, leagues and clubs, especially at the lower and grassroots levels, and this income can be used to improve the quality of play, attract new fans, and support the growth of the sport.”
How can international and national federations, event organisers and leagues navigate the challenge of providing live coverage, considering the costs that have been traditionally associated with in-house production?
AW: “Today, technology seems to have an answer for every challenge, and Pixellot’s AI-driven automated technology is changing the game. This is an end-to-end solution that films, produces and broadcasts games live, without the need for a single operator.
“It is a cost-effective solution that provides live coverage of any sporting event, regardless of the level of competition. Not only are Pixellot’s solutions affordable, but they are also designed to be easy to use, making them accessible to federations and leagues of all sizes.”
So, how does Pixellot’s technology work, and how does it tap into the increasingly digital consumption habits of fans?
AW: “Pixellot uses a high-quality multi-camera system to track the action on the field and automatically generate a live video feed and highlights. This feed can then be streamed seamlessly to a variety of platforms, including TV, websites, OTT services, and social media channels. Pixellot also offers a sport-specific, white-label integrated OTT platform.
How important is the automated nature of the technology?
AW: “It is essential – and it goes to the heart of how easy it is to use the tech. You install a system once and let the automation take care of the rest. Federations and leagues do not need to hire a dedicated production crew to produce live coverage of their games. Entire games can be scheduled, filmed, produced and live streamed with the click of a mouse!
“Our solutions can cover 19 different types of sports and the high-quality live stream is not affected by low bandwidth or difficult lighting and weather conditions. This means that fans can always be sure to enjoy a professional viewing experience.”
What sort of impact is your technology having on the industry?
AW: “Pixellot is having a major impact on the broadcasting of women’s sports, youth leagues, niche and lower-league sports. The company’s solutions are making it possible for federations and leagues to afford to cover their games live, which is enabling a much-needed boost in exposure.
“To date, Pixellot has streamed live coverage of more than four million games which in the past would have never been covered. Now, these games can not only be seen live; they can also be enjoyed at any time, on demand. By making it easier for fans to watch these games, Pixellot is therefore introducing many more new fans to these leagues and teams and helping to grow the fan base for these previously underexposed events.”
Sports rights-holders are understandably keen to justify investments in any new technological offering. What is the Pixellot value proposition?
AW: “There are clear monetisation opportunities for federations and right-holders. In fact, Pixellot systems pay for themselves, thanks to a range of built-in options. Income streams can be generated through subscription models, advertising, sponsorships, e-commerce, live data and betting, coaching and analytics toolsets, as well as content syndication.
“Additionally, Pixellot’s solutions are significantly more affordable than traditional sports broadcasting – less than one-tenth of the cost. This makes it possible for entire leagues and teams of all sizes to afford live coverage for all their games.
“Not every federation has the same needs, but Pixellot offers an end-to-end solution that can include specific modules or an entire turnkey offering that includes capturing, production, delivery, analysis, highlights, breakdowns and monetisation. As an integrated, modular system, Pixellot can customise its solution to suit virtually any type of organisation and operational considerations.”