Movies are going online, games are online, social interactions are going online. Why should sports be any different?
The image I have of watching sports is doing so in the living room, at the local sports pub or at a friends flat. Point being, the actual watching happens through a TV. But it doesn’t always go like this any more. People are watching sports online because it give them more liberty to choose what to see while keeping the game possibly commercial free.
In Finland none of the TV channels really show you any national, local games anyway, other than maybe hockey and sometimes football. What about boxing, gymnastics and baseball? They all have a solid fan base but no TV coverage.
What if you wanted to watch one single specific match live, and you knew it was too small time to ever make it on TV? SportTV.fi could be your answer.
SportTV.fi is a streaming platform that cover’s a good deal of smaller yet popular teams and sports across the country. For a user, the idea should be fairly simple: go on their website, browse the calendar for any matches you might be interested in and once you’re done just move on to payment.
The check-out bill (and the monetization for that matter) is done based on pay-per-views and subscriptions; online payment currently supports all Finnish banks as well as PayPal.
Most live streams are €8/match while recordings are anything between €2-€6. Subscribing for a team’s season ticket ranges from €70-€85.
There’s plenty of online sports going on out there, and to be honest a quick googling revealed online channels that on the long run seemed to offer more compensation for my money (€24/month with mobile device support). Yet so, SportTV.fi gave us some pretty interesting conversion rates: 7.7% of all visitors to the site bought one or more streams (March-May average), 20.1% of customers bought more than one stream and 5.1% bought three or more streams.
The platform is recommended to use through a computer, as mobile device streaming formats are rarely supported. A quick glimpse at user feedback reveals us that the streaming has not always been seamless, which is tough stuff to say about a product which has a relatively high price tag on it.
However, based on the positive feedback I came across, people are using the service and they’re happy it’s still available. Why?
The answer is simple: loyalty and content.
It never ceases to surprise me how Finns don’t seem to have a largely flourishing national sports league, excluding perhaps ice hockey, even though Finns love sports. Fans here want to show their support just like fans everywhere else, but if the matches don’t show up on TV and they take place far away, how do you participate?
SportTV.fi offers to topple both of these issues by offering the content which might not be otherwise available, while giving the viewers the chance to financially support their teams. Though the prices are high, it’s a necessary evil – way over half of the price goes to the teams as commissions, so think of it as showing big support to the sport you love.
Fans also appreciate the possibility of viewing the content they thought unattainable. Sports like gymnastics, synchronized swimming and figure skating are apparently very popular and make up 65-70% of foreign viewers.
The reason why all of this stuff can be shown is because some sports associations require the matches/games to be videotaped anyway, so streaming or not, there’s going to be someone on the stop with the camera rolling. Instead of just shooting the footage for training purposes, SportTV.fi makes sure it get’s plugged online. In return for getting the content, the company brings in some money and visibility for the team and a 24 hour customer service for service related issues.
As for the stream issues mentioned earlier, problems usually manifest on the production side, whereas the platfrom only displays the quality their servers receive from the location of the game. Because the teams are the ones responsible for producing the content, they do not always manage to keep high quality standards. Further development and viewer rate increase ought to push the teams to deliver high quality footage.
Currently SportTV.fi is looking for funding to finalize and launch the product. This means the development of a more self-service for teams anywhere to deliver and monetize their live stream productions.
Expansion wise we were told that their eyes are set to countries like the UK, Canada and Australia where sports means lucrative business, if the business model is right, and that’s what they’re finding out.