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EDITORIAL Sport and technology – a telemedia match made in heaven

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As the UK becomes the latest country in Europe to instigate a second full lockdown, we are all in need of some digital distraction – and sport and esports, along with gaming, are set to give us all something to take our minds off the horrors of the pandemic.

Sport – proper physical, running about sport – fared poorly in the first lockdown, being pretty much shut down completely. Over the summer it made a comeback behind closed doors and looks set to stay that way through Lockdown 2.0.

That leaves sports brands, teams, leagues, TV companies and marketers scrabbling to find new ways to make money from these games. Naturally, they have turned to the internet, but how do you monetise?

How sports has been monetised is an object lesson in how to profit in the digital age. These teams, leagues and TV companies have had to be agile and find new ways to make money from the content they have – and it has proved to be a boon to telemedia digital payments.

The biggest news is that the UK’s Premier League is using DCB to charge for access to watch live streamed matches. The league has had to stream even more of them than usual since the stadia are empty and, while many of them were free in the first lockdown, the PL has to turn a profit to keep running and so has started to charge.

What is new is that it is charging for single views of matches and has tapped into DCB to make this happen. This is something that we have been talking about here at telemedia-news for ages: DCB, mobile and matches and highlights offer a huge potential opportunity to create a new way to watch and enjoy sport.

The DCB-powered streaming of top-flight football is just one place where we are seeing a surge in digital consumption and the rapid uptake of digital and mobile payments. The European Champions League was streamed in it entirety earlier this year – another first.

Similarly, the nexus of sports and games has also seen huge amounts of interest over 2020 as the world stayed home. eSports investment value rose by 714% quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) in Q3 2020 to reach $1.33 billion. The total M&A and investment transaction value for the three-month period was $17.54 billion.

This is huge numbers and the opportunities here are enormous for the use of carrier billing and other digital payment tools to monetise the gaming and eSports sector properly off the back of this investment.

This has not been wasted on DOCOMO Digital, a global leader in direct carrier billing and alternative payments, and Razer, the leading global lifestyle brand for gamers, who have announced a strategic payments partnership to do just that.

DOCOMO Digital will catalyse further growth for Razer by integrating alternative payment methods such as carrier billing and e-wallets. Razer Gold customers will be able to make in-game purchases with their preferred payment methods.

Razer will be able to leverage DOCOMO Digital’s global coverage while DOCOMO Digital’s carrier partners will be able to offer Razer’s leading-edge repertoire of hundreds of game titles and as many publishers.

Technology is making other inroads into sport in 2020, fundamentally reshaping how people interact with it. Rugby Union team Sale Sharks has added VCodes to their kit so that players can be scanned from up to 100m away to add rich mobile content to the user experience.

Similarly, Proxy42 is adding Virtual Reality to Soccer in the US in its latest app – all thanks to nascent 5G. It has even made it into Dr Who.

Things are moving fast in sports and, with 50% of Americans now preferring YouTube as their main source of sports highlights, there is everything to play for.

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