SPECIAL REPORT: Live streaming paves the way to innovative partnerships

November 22, 2016

Live streaming has been one of the main buzzwords in the sport business industry this year, as major social media companies such as Twitter, Facebook and Amazon have bid for sports broadcasting rights. Table Tennis England, table tennis’ governing body in England, are thinking ahead with their recent live streaming ventures on Facebook with SPORTbible and Team GB, paving the way to innovative partnership opportunities.

Recently, Table Tennis England signed a unique broadcasting deal with Team GB to broadcast England’s Table Tennis European Championship qualification match against Slovenia on Tuesday, November 22nd. The match is being filmed and broadcasted by the award-winning 1080 Media TV, who also provided multi-camera coverage and the online live streaming of England’s match against Greece on SPORTbible on November 1st.

We are approaching live online streaming in the exact same way we do for broadcasters, which is with top level multi-camera coverage, commentary and graphics. The feedback we are getting is that the quality of the production is key in engaging viewers and keeping them interested, as obviously if it’s boring to watch then no-one except die-hard fans will stay online. There’s a level of interactivity that is hard to match on traditional TV, in that people comment live, and react instantly through the chat when something happens. We even had to create a slate instructing viewers how to remove the ‘Likes’ and ‘comments’ that were blocking the lower third of their screen on Facebook when watching as they were complaining about it! This level of interaction and engagement must be hugely attractive to corporates, as the statistics enable us to see the exact demographics of the viewers – if they are male or female, what their age is, where they are located and so on. This surely leaves traditional TV audience measurement in the stone-age by comparison. It’s an exciting time and we’re pleased to be able to help Table Tennis England take this bold step in promoting the sport to a wider audience,” said Cliff Webb, CEO of 1080 Media.

Table Tennis England has also recently had experience with streaming live on Facebook when they partnered with TheLADbible group. They had started streaming live matches via SPORTbible’s Facebook page, reacting quickly to changing sport consumption patterns, and the audiences numbers have been astronomical.

While table tennis has been broadcasted on terrestrial television channels such as ITV, they federation, who own their own rights, decided to venture out into live streaming online for the first time earlier this month. The first match they streamed on the SportBIBLE social media page was between Table Tennis England and Greece and surpassed their expectations as it got 2.15 million unique viewers, with a reach of 8 million.

Our vision as a business is to get everyone talking about table tennis – we want it to be unavoidable,” said Mark Taffler, Head of Commercial at Table Tennis England, on their decision to stream with SPORTbible. “We wanted to get table tennis viewed a lot more, as it is a very engaging sport. We decided to look at more cost effective ways of introducing our sport into a wider, younger, more engaged audience.”

Streaming online with SPORTBible gave Table Tennis England the ability to reach a younger demographic as well as adapt to people’s every-changing sport consumption habits.


“People are consuming shorter chunks of matches on portable devices. The Premier League viewing figures are down 19% year on year, which is symptomatic of people’s consumption habits. Because we own our own rights, we have the ability to quickly adapt to these habits and move to online streaming,” added Mark. 

Ben Barker, Head of Sport at Monterosa, digital fan engagement company, stressed that the way people are consuming sport is changing rapidly due to big media and social media changing the way that they distribute content to fans and the fact that people are becoming more and more “time poor” and have more choices than ever before in terms of how and where to watch sport.

It very much depends on your age and your viewing habits, as to whether your phone is your second screen, or your first screen. Roughly, people around the age of 45 and above, are still consuming sport through traditional TVs. Younger audiences are no longer watching 90 minutes of a football or 80 minutes of a rugby game, but are watching snippets or highlights on their phones and tablet,” said Ben,

Live consumption of sport is definitely something that is both hindered and enhanced by technology and mobile devices. One of the things sport needs to understand is that we are competing for fans’ attention, and therefore non-live consumption is very important too.”

With fans busier than ever before, live streaming games on social media, although uncharted terrain for most sports, may be the way forward and may pose new partnership and advertising opportunities as well.

While Facebook Live doesn’t allow in-stream advertising yet, it does enable access to large demographics to view sports. Mark added, “We have to be more creative in the opportunities we provide to partners, and when Facebook Live does begin to allow proper in-stream advertising, we will be ahead of the curve.”

{jcomments on}