Academy blog


The 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang came to a close on Sunday, and in the world of sports coverage perhaps the biggest winner was the online video industry. Streaming services, benefiting from big data analytics and business intelligence, have seen more than double the number of viewers as the 2016 Summer Games in Rio and three times the numbers for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, with NPAW clients successfully managing daily spikes in viewership of 500% and more.


Content and timing dilemmas for broadcasters

This trend toward streaming media should not come as much of a surprise, as the Games have always presented challenges for traditional broadcasters that streaming media would seem to solve. As a global event staged in a single city, it is inevitable that riveting moments happen far out of prime time for many audiences. And with multiple sports that each attract their own fan base getting scheduled at conflicting times, broadcasters have traditionally been forced to make decisions on what to cover that alienate passionate fans of smaller sports in order to appeal to a broader audience. It’s a conundrum that gets played out differently depending on the country, but the results are often the same: massive buys for the rights to the Games, then viewers who are furious with the programming decisions of the broadcaster. Time zone differences are also of the essence, with no easy fix for broadcasters. Some Olympic Games broadcasters have delayed showing critical events until prime time in their respective countries, but as the Internet has become ubiquitous this old practice has lost its luster. After all, when people can easily get an event’s results online, it spoils the fun of watching it on delay hours later.


How analytics helped

Streaming media has advantages over traditional media for all these issues, but only if executed well. Ad-supported clips of Olympic highlights meant services could monetize the games while users’ could access whichever events they wanted at an hour that suited them. NPAW serves multiple online video services that streamed the 2018 Olympics, and our YOUBORA solution ensured that for the video providers that NPAW services, the only slip ups this year were on the ice. With our SmartSwitch module, when our clients experienced spikes in viewership during the Games, their CDN’s automatically switched to ensure maximal performance no matter the spikes in their network’s load. The unique and fleeting opportunity to reach viewers with ads that tie into the Olympic spirit was buttressed by our SmartAds module, which monitors ad performance and user responses in real time so providers can make adjustments on the fly. Lastly, with myriad events that each could have utmost importance to certain segments of a video service’s user base, it was essential that things run smoothly. With our module SmartAlerts, video services were able to identify in real time any technical issues affecting the video delivery ecosystem in real time with instant alerts to technical support teams. This kept viewers focused on the Games, and our numbers show a significant across-the-board increase in viewership since Rio. With online streaming video now able to provide as good or better performance than traditional broadcasting, one can be sure user churn rates will go down and the overall shift from traditional broadcasting will only accelerate with the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.

Research & Editorial Team on February 27th 2018

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