World Cup broadcasters target 4.7 billion connected devices

written by: Richard Kastelein

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worldcupThis summer's football World Cup is proving to be the most accessible in the tournament's history, with broadcast and streaming services available on up to 5.9 billion screens globally. This is according to Ovum, which reveals that PCs, tablets, and smartphones are providing alternatives to conventional TV viewing, accounting for 57% of all screens.

Connected devices are playing a crucial role in evolving viewing habits for big-event TV, though.

"Devices capable of streaming live and on-demand video – of which there now 4.7 billion – are providing additional viewing opportunities outside the appointment viewing taking place in people's living rooms," says Ted Hall, senior analyst at Ovum. "With the likes of tablets providing the convenience and flexibility to consume content whenever and wherever, fans are able to watch more of the tournament than ever before."

However, with football fans keen to watch the matches on the biggest screen and in the highest resolution possible, Ovum stresses that the importance of traditional broadcasting – via terrestrial, cable, satellite, or IPTV – for attracting the largest audiences and generating the most value for World Cup rights holders.

The reliability of online streams compared with traditional broadcasts remains a concern, however.

"For broadcasters and operators providing multiplatform World Cup services, supplying demand with minimal technical hiccups should be of paramount concern," says Hall. "Having set consumer expectations for TV Everywhere, providers must now deliver on the promise of their offerings, as failure to do so can result in bad press and, more importantly, frustrated fans. While viewing live events online is improving, there is some way to go before it can compare with the reliability traditional TV distribution offers for the largest audiences."

Significant innovation of the viewing experience for this World Cup is somewhat lacking, in Ovum's view. The tournament will not, for instance, provide the launch pad for the much-vaunted 4K Ultra high-definition format – though FIFA and technology partner Sony are capturing three matches in 4K, very few people see them in this resolution, with screenings limited to public venues in Rio de Janeiro.

"4K technology is far from ready for home viewing, with holes in the transmission part of the ecosystem meaning that it will be some time before audiences of any significant scale will be watching UHDTV content in their living rooms," explains Hall. "And with FIFA abandoning its support of 3DTV for Brazil 2014 – in light of the format's spectacular failure to capture the public's imagination – the less-glamorous HDTV will be the preferred format of many World Cup viewers, with up to 260 million homes watching matches in high-definition."

Ovum will be shortly publishing a new report on World Cup broadcasting strategies, analysing how broadcasters and pay-TV operators can innovate and effectively monetize big-event TV.

About the Author

Richard Kastelein
Founder of The Hackfest, publisher of TV App Market and global expert on Media & TV innovation, Kastelein is an award winning publisher and futurist. He has guest lectured at MIT Media Lab, University of Cologne, sat on media convergence panel at 2nd EU Digital Assembly in Brussels, and worked with broadcasters such as the BBC, NPO, RTL (DE and NL), Eurosport, NBCU, C4, ITV, Seven Network and others on media convergence strategy - Social TV, OTT, DLNA and 2nd Screen etc.

He is a Fellow of the UK Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and UK Royal Television Society (RTS) member.

Kastelein has spoken (& speaking) on the future of media & TV in Amsterdam, Belfast, Berlin, Brussels, Brighton, Copenhagen, Cannes, Cologne, Curacao, Frankfurt, Hollywood, Hilversum, Geneva, Groningen (TEDx), Kuala Lumpur, London, Las Vegas, Leipzig, Madrid, Melbourne, NYC, Rio, Sheffield, San Francisco, San Jose, Sydney, Tallinn, Vienna, Zurich...

He's been on advisory boards of TEDx Istanbul, SMWF UK, Apps World, and judged & AIB awards, Social TV Awards Hollywood, TV Connect & IPTV Awards.

A versatilist & autodidact, his leadership ability, divergent and synthetic thinking skills evolved from sailing the world 24000 miles+ offshore in his 20′s on sailboats under 12m.

He spent 10 years in the Caribbean media & boating industry as a professional sailor before returning to Europe, to Holland.

A Creative Technologist and Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Metis) his career began in the Canadian Native Press and is now a columnist for The Association for International Broadcasting and writes for Wired, The Guardian & Virgin. His writings have been translated into Polish, German and French. 

One of Kastelein's TV formats was optioned by Sony Pictures Television in 2012. 

Currently involved in a number of startups including publishing TV App Market online, The Hackfest and Tripsearch TV. As CSO for Worldticketshop he helped build a $100m company.

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