KNOW THE SCORE is a series of talks where Mateusz Lentowczyk – CEO and founder of TISA Group – invites interesting guests to talk about the latest trends, challenges and best practices at the intersection of business, sport and technology.
In the fourth issue, Matthew Lentowczyk caught up with João Presa, Group Chief Technology & Product Officer at ELEVEN Sports and co-founder & COO at MyCujoo (an ELEVEN company), to discuss the advantages and best practices of implementing OTT and investing in video content in sports clubs & leagues. João is an expert at providing top-quality streaming technology to all football sectors, including secondary leagues, women’s football, youth, futsal and amateur football. MyCujoo, which will become ElevenSports.com in the near future, provides its services to more than 150 countries all over the world.
The exchange of views between Matthew and João on the OTT implementation led us to some interesting conclusions on:
⇒ What should a sports club’s content strategy look like, and how to incorporate OTT in it?
⇒ At what stage of development is OTT affordable to small- and medium-sized sports clubs?
⇒ What makes OTT profitable?
Read this interview and grasp some of our know-how!
Matthew Lentowczyk: To kick off, I would like to ask you a question that I’ve heard a lot recently. Is OTT the best solution on the market to boost fan engagement?
João Presa: I don’t like having very strong opinions on such subjects. I believe that the world is becoming digital, and the same must happen in the sports industry.
The younger the audience is, the more they consume video content. However, essentially, they no longer do it ‘traditionally’ with many ‘linear formats’ as we used to do it. Now, they prefer to shorten their consumption to specific events. We also notice that live-streaming is the best for acquisition, while VOD (video-on-demand) is the best for retention.
Therefore, if we speak about OTT, I believe that the events will become more important than the linear coverage. OTT platforms offer the possibility to meet the emerging needs of ‘modern consumers’. For that reason, they constitute a very interesting opportunity for many sports clubs & leagues. Of course, linear still has a huge role to play, but we believe that OTT will become a more and more important part of the mix.
Matthew Lentowczyk: You’ve touched upon an interesting point about changing consumption habits, especially among young people. We’ve got many generations with completely different approaches – Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z. So what should be the strategy of a sports club to deliver the best experiences to their fanbase? And how should they incorporate OTT into it?
João Presa: There’s no universal answer for that question. It all depends on the specific conditions of the sports club that is going to implement OTT.
We see this trend that keeping mobile users in mind is essential for the proper development of your content strategy. Very often, around 75-85% of users come from there. Any sports organisation that wants to win the market nowadays needs to deliver solutions that will be ‘mobile-friendly’. It concerns not only the youngest generations but also people of my age – and I’m 37 now!
Whether you should decide to run as many social media accounts on as many platforms as possible or focus only on a few most important ones is a question of your long-term strategy. Efficient communication is all about consistency and the ability to keep providing valuable content to your fans for a long time.
For the small clubs, OTT is a great chance to keep competing for their fans’ attention. They can show their strong brand exposure to sponsors. Video is a wonderful asset that fulfils many expectations of modern fans.
For me, video content will always be in the first place because I believe it will keep conquering the market. Still, of course, the more you’re able to diversify your content, the better your reach will be.
Matthew Lentowczyk: So summing this subject up, would you say that nowadays video content is the must-have for all the sports clubs no matter what their background is?
João Presa: I think so! If your ambition is to drive fan engagement to your brand and attract future generations, then video content is a must-have in your organisation.
Matthew Lentowczyk: I understand MyCujoo will soon transform into ElevenSports.com. What’s the difference between what MyCujoo is – and what ElevenSports.com will be – and what we understand by OTT as a technology?
João Presa: MyCujoo is a platform that allows content creators to publish user-generated content and become a part of the community live-streaming sports, primarily football. Once you decide to join us, you’re among the people who share the same passion as you do. In this way, you can widen your audience, attract new sponsors or build relationships with other entities. ElevenSports.com will maintain that same ethos.
OTT is more like a ‘white label solution’. It’s very powerful! The reason for implementing it usually has its roots in the ambition of meeting the emerging needs of modern supporters who want to consume video content. Apart from that, providing fans with your own communication channel allows you to have full access to first-party data and makes your supporters get used to your solutions. And nowadays, everyone expects sports clubs to become entertainment hubs.
Matthew Lentowczyk: Yes, that’s another interesting topic – creating ’Club TV’. Many sports clubs are currently looking for opportunities to do it. You’ve seen quite a lot of cases of sports organisations implementing such projects. If you were to give new managers some piece of advice, what would you tell them?
João Presa: It’s a matter of communication, the scalability of your club, the investment you want to make in your brand and the fanbase you already possess!
The best advice I can give to such clubs is to always start with their own assets. They should be looking for opportunities to develop without destroying what they’ve already built. The content strategy they choose must be consistent.
Another thing to consider is the ability to learn from the mistakes (and not being scared to make them!). In my history, I’ve seen many flaws. Those entrepreneurs that were not afraid of facing them and immediately strived to improve the situation are now successful and a few steps ahead their rivals!
Matthew Lentowczyk: Can small- and medium-sized sports clubs think of implementing OTT? How affordable is this solution? At what stage of sports organisation development should you start considering it?
João Presa: Data is the key driver for your execution. Doing the simple business plan, that’s all we need here!
Calculating how many fans you have, what percentage of them will be interested in this solution, how you will monetise it and what short-term and long-term results it will bring to your club. That’s the first step.
Definitely, medium-sized sports clubs with solid foundations and well-rooted fanbase have enough resources to think of implementing their own OTT platform. Missing this opportunity may leave them in a worse position in the near future.
Offering the solution that can transparently go out on the market and selling it at a price that will allow the sports industry to develop. Those are the values that I know that we, as MyCujoo and ElevenSports.com, and you, as TISA, share. For that reason, it’s so easy for us to find a common language.
Matthew Lentowczyk: Affordability and availability of our products and services are essential, for sure. Let’s also talk about profitability then. Where is the business in video content and OTT? How to monetise it?
João Presa: Actually, it’s all about your marketing team creativity and the possibility to adjust to the needs & expectations of your fans smartly. The ability to build premium content and sell it exclusively is one of the solutions.
Creating ‘paid content’, if you know how to do it, is an awesome opportunity. Exclusive scenes, premium interviews, training highlights, behind-the-scenes videos. People love getting to know what players’ life looks like daily.
Besides, video content gives an outstanding possibility to smoothly implement your sponsors’ logos and products into your brand and make them more willing to cooperate with you. Also, selling collective media rights might play a significant role here.
OTT and video content, if well-organised, are simply profitable solutions delivering endless opportunities!
Matthew Lentowczyk: Do you have in your mind an example of a sports organisation with exceptional solutions and particularly good results that you could share with our audience?
João Presa: FIBA (International Basketball Federation) has a lot of engagement around the players representing their league. They focus on creating content around their athletes’ lifestyle, the music they listen to, the food they eat and their other personal experiences. Personal branding is what makes a significant difference here
Moreover, they also popularise street basketball and stories related to so-called ‘street culture’. For that reason, they are very often perceived as the influencers in this matter. It allows them to go beyond Match Days and attract new people to their community.
Matthew Lentowczyk: You’ve been cooperating with numerous entities all over the world. In how many countries do you provide your services, and what knowledge does it give to you?
João Presa: That’s a great question. We’ve been cooperating with various organisations in more than 150 countries all over the world. It gives us a wonderful experience of how important sports (like football) become in uniting people around the same group of values.
Even though we have clients believing in different religions, from different cultures with different habits and backgrounds, they all share the same passion. What brings all football supporters together are these 90 minutes of the game itself.
For that reason, we offer broadcasting services at an affordable price to all the people in the world. We want to give them this opportunity to unite and share emotions no matter who and where they are.
Matthew Lentowczyk: With your vast experience in operating in various parts of the world, can you name any specific differences between how we, as Europeans, consume sports and how they do it in other regions?
João Presa: Yes, definitely! For instance, you clearly feel a ‘big jump’ when you go to Africa. Smart TVs are not as common there as we’re used to them in Portugal or Poland. The differences in consumption habits come from the popularity of technology in a given region but also habits that a particular community possesses.
We see many differences worldwide when it comes to payments as well. Credit cards are, for instance, very popular in Europe or Brazil, but when you go to Asia, it no longer applies.
Personally, I watched football in more than 100 countries, so I also had a chance to experience it ‘on my skin’. It’s entirely different everywhere. In South America, the way they experience sports emotions is much more expressive than what we usually do in Europe. It’s incredible when you feel it for the first time!
The most exciting story that I have was when we allowed the public viewing in Vanuatu – it was a competition in Oceania Champions League (OFC). Never before had there been any stream like this! The organisation itself was very unusual – there was a projector shooting an image onto the big bedsheet!
Obviously, from the business side, we “lost a lot of viewers” as all of them were using one device to watch the game. But that time, it wasn’t about monetisation at all. It was about understanding the values we want to represent and the mission we want to conduct.
We want to allow every sports club in the world, no matter the size, to share their emotions and experiences with their supporters using live-streaming tech and video content. Seeing it happen in Vanuatu was the best reward for me!
Matthew Lentowczyk: It’s a great story! That’s a kind of mission that we all should have in our minds when making decisions. Thank you very much – it was an insightful conversation.
João Presa: Thank you for the invitation, it was a pleasure! I rarely have a chance to “zoom-out” and look at our actions from a broader perspective because of the daily responsibilities. Discussions like this one will help me a lot. Thanks again and see you soon!