The Changing Landscape Of Sports Viewing And CenturyLink’s Role In Big Games
This Sunday, a lot of very cool things will happen. Americans will consume more than 1.3 billion chicken wings, order 12,500,000 pizzas and enjoy 8 million pounds of guacamole. And an estimated 100 million will gather to watch one of the biggest live sporting events in the world.
A lot has changed since the beginning of televised sports. Fans no longer have to rely on cable, satellite or over-the-air antennas. Today, they can utilize over-the-top (OTT) video technology, which uses the internet to deliver video, to watch their favorite sporting events, including Sunday’s match-up between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs in Miami. In fact, last year nearly 2.6 million streamed the big game, up from 2.02 million in 2018. And in 2019, live streaming was up 19% in terms of minutes consumed, to 560 million.
The growing number of individuals live streaming sporting events isn’t a big surprise considering the state of the OTT market. Today, 46% of US broadband households subscribe to two or more OTT services, up 130% from 2014. And per Google’s Sports Viewing Survey, which polled 1,520 adults between the ages of 18 and 54 that identified as sports fans, 30% said they have live-streamed sporting events to their smartphones or tablets.
As more streaming platforms start broadcasting live sports, the number of viewers logging onto the same stream will push the boundaries of live streaming. How does the underlying network manage it?
What It Takes To Stream Live Events
CenturyLink owns and operates one of the largest internet backbones in the world and plays a large part in bringing audiences some of the biggest live sporting events around the globe to TVs and streaming devices. Delivering the broadcasts of these live events takes months of planning and a dedicated team of network professionals working to plan, provision and execute flawlessly.
Not only does CenturyLink encode video feed for the national TV broadcast of these live events and acquire the national broadcast signal for cable and satellite distribution, we also encode the feed for streaming platforms as well. Check out the infographic “How Stadium Event Coverage Gets from the Stadium to Your TV or Device” to get a better understanding of how this process works. Also keep in mind that regular internet traffic is still traversing the network during these live events.
While we still love our big-screen TVs when it comes to watching live sports, how we get that content is shifting to a more internet-based model, putting more demands on the underlying network.
What’s Next For Streaming Live Sports?
If the number of individuals live streaming events follows the OTT market, we can expect steady growth. According to comScore’s latest State of OTT report, OTT viewing has become a mainstream media behavior in the U.S. with 64 million households using OTT services, up 7% year over year. And eMarketer notes by the end of 2022, more than one-fifth of the US population, or 55.1 million people, will no longer watch traditional pay TV.
We understand that when it comes to streaming live events, delivering an exceptional user experience is key. At CenturyLink, we are investing to not only expand the reach of our global content delivery network platform, but also expand its capabilities, including adding innovative peer-assisted streaming. In September 2019, CenturyLink acquired Streamroot and the company’s disruptive content delivery models which enable connected consumer devices such as smart phones, tablets, computers, set-top consoles and smart TVs to participate in the serving of content through a secure and private mesh delivery. With this peer-assisted capability, CenturyLink can achieve performance during large-scale events and peak viewing hours not otherwise feasible with conventional CDN delivery methods.
See how CenturyLink is delivering content using our reliable, secure high-performance network.
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