The World Cup Goes Digital

 

by Chris Wagner, Executive Vice President, NeuLion.

The 2014 World Cup is going to be a memorable one in terms of glamour matches, big money and global audiences.  But for me, it’s the technology that is really going to be a game changer not only for viewers who will be watching on a range of platforms but for the players and officials well.

Univision Deportes Network will carry 24-hour coverage and it will make live-streaming of all 64 matches available on mobile apps and online. As the exclusive digital technology partner for Univision Deportes, we at NeuLion are expecting big fan numbers based on Univision digital traffic for the qualifying matches.  For example, Mexico’s decisive win over New Zealand in their World Cup qualifying match netted big online numbers generating nearly 650,000 live streams across all platforms, making it the U.S. Spanish-language media leader’s largest event since the 2010 FIFA World Cup.  That total was double the USA-Mexico WCQ match in September.

Questionable calls are part of the world cup experience.  But this year, for the first time goal line technology is being used to help with this issue.  Fourteen cameras will be on the playing field 7 at each goal. They will be connected back to the stadium network and used throughout the competition to analyze each shot on goal.  On the field,  when the ball crosses the goal line, the referee will receive the visual message “Goal” and feel a vibration through a special  wristwatch he will be wearing that‘s connected to the network.

 

With millions of people visiting for the World Cup, drones will be utilized to monitor the crowds for defense and security purposes.  These unnamed aircrafts can be remotely operated to detect and examine suspicious objects or explore dangerous environments.

With the recent large audiences for the NCAA and NBA Conference Finals (it was reported that internet viewing of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament surpassed last year’s total with over 70 million video streamed, up 42% from 2013), there is every reason to believe that the mobile audience for this year’s World Cup audience will be the biggest ever.  Mary Meeker, a partner at venture firm KIeiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), pointed out in her annual Internet trends report published last month, that the internet is scrambling  to become fluent on mobile. She found that mobile internet traffic is growing at a rate of 1.5 times that of conventional broadband or at an annual rate of 81%. Video is largely driving that growth. That’s why we worked together with Univision to launch the Univision Deportes App to enable soccer fans to watch the World Cup’s 64 matches LIVE wherever they are.

For mobile users, live highlights will be clipped and delivered throughout the matches along with a condensed game highlight reel at the end of each match.  In addition, the mobile fan will enjoy access to schedules, results, stats and personalized alerts and content.

In addition, the live matches will be available for fans to watch on digital; fans only need to provide authentication with an Univision pay TV affiliate and many of the early rounds will be authentication free.

Delivering live sports on digital is vastly different from delivering live sports on traditional broadcast (i.e. with cable set top boxes and satellite receivers). Fans want an all HD experience on any device that offers apps, coupled with interactive features and seamless consumption of live video, live audio, and live stats anytime, anywhere on every device. 

This type of demand from fans continues the mobile marketplace growth.  Gartner predicts that by 2017, mobile apps will generate more than $77 billion in revenue, which translates into a digitally engaged world offering enormous economic opportunity.

“We want to build beautiful products,” said Scott Levine, SVP of products at Univision.  “The experience for our fans needs to be seamless across devices.  We need personalization and interactive features to drive activation and engagement.  We need to give our fans access on their schedule.”

So the news here is good.  Pick the right technology partner and reap the benefits with more audience, longer engagement with that audience, more ads, more sponsorship, and ultimately more money. 

Goooooooooal……………………

Chris Wagner has been a driving force in the technology industry for more than 20 years.  In this capacity, he has worked closely with executives from many major corporations as well as entrepreneurs who have needed technology to support the growth of their businesses. In his current position as Executive Vice President and Co-Founder of NeuLion, Wagner targets the revolution currently underway as the television and internet video industries converge. Wagner has held numerous executive positions in the technology sector.   The growth of internet television on computers, tablets, mobile, and internet connected devices, has given him the opportunity to work closely with the largest brands in the sports and entertainment industries including NFL, NHL, UFC, NBA, Rainbow Media and many others. 


The Cynsiders column is a platform for industry leaders to reach out to their colleagues followers and the public at large.  In their own words, they address breaking news, issues of the day, and the larger changes going on in the ever-evolving world of television, video and digital.  Unique to cynopsis, Cynsiders lives on the cynopsis.com homepage and is promoted across the daily newsletters. We welcome readers’ comments, queries, and column ideas at [email protected]


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