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Opportunities & Challenges of Tent Pole Sporting Events

Sporting events like the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics illustrate how TV viewership is radically changing. For example, streamed viewership of this year’s Super Bowl increased 45% from 2017 to 2018.  

Consumers who want to watch the 2018 Winter Olympics have any number of options to choose from. NBC made the decision to broadcast events live across all timezones, with full live-stream options available through and the NBC Sports app.

Why is streaming so hot? Many consumers, particularly millennials, are less willing to pay for cable services, and want to watch content on the device of their choice. Appointment TV just isn’t their thing.

Moreover, streamed events can be more immersive and interactive. Broadcasters often offer additional content, like locker room interviews, that don’t make it on air, which live-stream viewers can consume at their leisure. They can also review key plays or game highlights as often as they like.

Add to that the rise in multi-screen viewing. An Adtaxi survey revealed that:

  • 47% of people will use secondary media to consume Super Bowl-related content

  • 68%  will use social media

  • Those seeking related content will use 2.1 different channels on average, such as social media, sports websites, and group chat forums.


Opportunities for Broadcasters

Live streaming offers broadcasters tools to win back cord cutters -- consumers who can be difficult for media companies to reach. Its an opportunity for broadcasters to grow their audiences.

Live streaming also offers additional opportunities for broadcasters to monetize their content. With server-side ad insertion, ads are inserted directly into the live stream, keeping then out of reach of ad blockers.

Audiences who stream content are more engaged with it, which makes them inherently more valuable to the advertisers who wish to reach and engage with them during a live event. Broadcasters that design sponsorship packages that exploit multi-screen viewing (e.g. video + display companion packages) will certainly benefit.

And, broadcasters can capture game highlights and post them to social media in order to drive tune-in -- videos that also come with monetization opportunities.


Challenges for Broadcasters

But streaming live events isn't without challenges, particularly when it comes to monetization. Direct-sold campaigns require broadcasters to closely monitor campaigns to ensure commitments are met. Extracting data from source systems, and merging it into an analysis must be done at accelerated intervals, but campaign-reporting infrastructure isn’t always set up for intra-day analytics.

And critical data is often siloed in multiple systems, such as the ad server and order management, making it difficult for analysts to get a holistic view of campaign fulfillment during a live event. Due to these constraints, live event campaigns are typically optimized to a single KPI: delivery. This is less than ideal for direct campaigns and sponsorships.



Elasticiti was asked to help a broadcaster manage its direct-sold campaigns during a major multi-day sporting event. Our solution included:

  • Data Refresh. We set up APIs and worked directly with source vendors to send log files at regularly scheduled intervals. As a result, campaign data was refreshed every 15 minutes, which helped the network’s analysts get the data they needed to ensure all campaigns were fulfilled.

  • Development of a Time-Appropriate Approach to Specific Live Events. We advised the broadcaster in setting realistic KPIs, and designed reports around those goals upfront. This helped their sales teams set expectations when selling inventory.

  • Infrastructure Optimization. We set up a temporary Massively Parallel Processing (MPP) architecture that accelerated analysis during a live event.

  • Intra-Day Data Visualization. Finally, we designed data visualizations that helped analysts quickly determine how each campaign and sponsorship was tracking.

Learn more about direct-sold campaign management for live TV events.