Amid headlines of ratings dips, mutating viewer habits and new digital sports deals, one media pioneer – Brian Bedol – is now spearheading a new way to cultivate industry changes through his new digital media company Sportsrocket. Described as a company that offers integrated solutions for production, distribution, management and monetization of sports media across all platforms, including OTT, Bedol, who founded ran the likes of Classic Sports Network and College Sports Television, is now partnering with the like of Major League Soccer and PGA TOUR as well as eSports brands such as ELeague to help boost audience aggregation.
Cynopsis Sports asked Bedol about the changes in the media landscape and its effects on viewership.
On the changing landscape: Back when we were doing Classic Sports Network, non-linear wasn’t available, we had to give the same feed of sports content to every fans, no matter who they cared about or loved. We always used to think how great it would be if there was a way to allow people to watch, for example, just a Cleveland Indian feed. When we did CSTV, it started s a linear channel, we started to realize that there was a ton of content that didn’t fit a linear channel and we were able to build out rights agreements for broadband content. In many ways, all of that stuff pointed to what was going to happen in the future. At that time, Internet was basically just an adjunct to television distribution. Now we are at a point where the tables are turning. We realized that there was really no elegant way for teams, publishers and rightsholders, without custom-building a complicated solution, to be able to distribute that content to all platforms and that led to what we are doing today.
On distribution: One of the most considerations was the television was about exclusivity, and it was about one ingestion point in and one distribution point out. Then, Internet 1.0 was TV over the Internet. What we are now experiencing and the real part of the evolution is this transition from exclusive distribution to ubiquitous distribution where you are no longer trying to get all these people to go to one destination to consume a single game. Instead, you basically need to reach people on every platform that they consume, whether it’s an OTT platform like Roku or a social platform or an app. So everything is going from a single point of distribution to multiple point of distribution. Now you are no longer just showcasing a live game, you are also pulling out highlight of a live game in real-time, you’ve got players doing self-interviews, you’ve got data feeds and multiple points of ingestion. So when you pull it together, it is a complicated mess.
On strategy: On If you are thinking about this, you need to be thinking about how you are going to reach all of these fans on the various platforms they are consuming because the train has left the station and there is no way any longer of getting them to come to the station where you want them to go.
On ratings: I think that when you read about ratings declines and how fans are choosing to consume sports, I don’t think that fans are as much rejecting the sports as they are choosing different platforms to consume them. I think there are some fans who fully get their fix of the NFL on Snapchat while others fully get their fix through highlights on their social feeds. If you are a tradition sport, you need to be thinking about the aggregate audience and how long they are engaged with me versus the ratings on a live feed on broadcast or cable TV.