14 July 2017

How technology is supporting the growth of ‘live’

Major League Baseball sold 73 million tickets in 2016 – the best attended league in the world.

12 million people stood roadside to cheer the riders of the Tour de France.

198,000 music fans went to last year’s Coachella festival.

The UK now has over 1,000 music and arts festivals.

The appeal and enjoyment of live events remains a huge draw. New events are popping up, larger stadiums are being built and music artists are touring for longer.

And to make the experience even more immersive and visceral, the way in which people are consuming live events is being embellished thanks to the prevalence of smartphones, better mobile networks, faster  broadband connectivity and continuous tech innovation.

Untapped potential of live streaming

The growth of streaming apps such as Facebook Live and WhatsApp video, and the availability of fast broadband, represents a huge opportunity for new styles and uses of video streaming. Imagine the opportunities: sports players live streaming on their phones taking fans inside their homes to see how they relax, or celebrating in the dressing room after a hard fought victory. Musicians and artists can bring their followers closer to their creative process by streaming from the studio as they sketch their latest artwork or practice their latest song.

As creators look to connect more closely and deeply with their audiences utilising data to form a much clearer understanding of their fans’ reactions and feelings, they will look for ways to develop more direct channels of engagement and create their own unique spaces where they can share and interact with their fans.

Connected stadiums

Wireless transmitters and sensors such as NFC tags and iBeacons allow consumers to enjoy content based on their surroundings. Coupled with intelligent proximity data, a smarter and more interactive world is at our doorstep. In the US Tennis Open last year, fans could receive real time data on ball speed and player movements, adding another level of context to their live match experience.  The NFL has experimented with fitting players with sensors allowing fans to track in real time their speed and distance travelled with the ball. These types of innovations help to drive the passion and engagement of fans, whilst growing sports by drawing in new fans.

Buoyant music industry

The music industry, whilst still grappling with the streaming revenue model, is generating large revenues and fan engagement with a resurgence in the popularity of live events.

According to Billboard Boxscore, gross box-office revenue and ­attendance figures at live music events increased by more than 30 percent globally in 2016, exceeding $5.5 billion and nearly 74 ­million, respectively. Revenue at events increased 25%worldwide, 45% in the U.S. and average attendance increased 30% globally and 39% in the U.S.
As promoters look to monetize the large capital investment in stadium concerts and long tours, they are exploring ways in which to reach even larger audiences. With tactics like more extravagant visual productions and costumes, there’s an increase in the amount of content for live broadcast, recorded or content sharing on social media.

All of these are advances are positive developments for artists, athletes, fans and the industry. But they all place greater demands on the networks as users stream more and more content. We’re working closely with the creative industries to help the creators develop closer relationships with more of their fans through seamless streaming and driving the broadcast revolution.