Elevating the Sports Viewing Experience

elevating the sports viewing experience
June 12, 2024 Xperi Gabriel Cosgrave
General Manager of EMEA

Gabriel Cosgrave, General Manager of EMEA

This summer, Europe will play host to three months of all-out sporting action — which promises not only to captivate billions of sports fans worldwide, but also bolster the opportunities for consumer electronics manufacturers, especially those in the TV industry.

Kicking off in June, football (or if you are reading this in North America, soccer) fans across the globe will tune in to watch 24 European teams battle to lift the Euro 2024 trophy. Then, in July, the Euros will pass the baton to the Paris games to keep the masses entertained. 

To put the scale of this sporting season into perspective, Euro 2020 ranked among the most viewed moments of all time, attracting a cumulative live audience of 5.2 billion across 229 territories. The final match alone was watched by 328 million fans across the globe — becoming the most-watched TV event in the UK in 24 years and in Italy since 2012 — setting all-time streaming records in both countries.

Similarly, the last summer games in Tokyo attracted a total of 3.05 billion unique viewers across linear TV and digital platforms. And the BBC’s coverage of the iconic Wimbledon tennis championship in 2023 reached 54.3 million streams on BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport online, and an international lineup of 27 commentators and 31 court directors delivered more than 700 matches to a global audience. 

There’s no doubt that a huge slice of the world will be watching sports this summer. Furthermore, consumers’ user experience expectations have become influenced by mobile interfaces, video game platforms and other digital experiences meaning they expect more no matter where they are tuning in. However, a large-screen TV in the living room remains the best viewership experience with the longest viewing times.

To keep up, smart TV manufacturers need to offer consumers seamless access to an array of content across streaming services, live television and on-demand platforms — all tailored to their preferences.

Give fans what they want

There’s nothing like the in-stadium experience, but next-generation smart TVs can offer the next best thing. Whether consumers are hosting watch parties or winding down after work, they want to maximise their viewing and that’s where OEMs can give them the experiences they crave. In addition to rooting for their favourite team, country or athlete, they want:

  • Advanced content discovery: To effortlessly find, watch and enjoy the latest sporting event live, or sports highlights and analysis from the day, or other favourite shows, movies, and music. Last year, Nielsen found that 20% of people ditched their TV viewing session altogether after an average of 10 minutes of browsing and not finding anything to watch — a statistic that is unacceptable. 
  • Personalised user experiences: Subscription fatigue is well documented and a smart TV’s OS needs to help. OEMs require an AI-enabled platform that offers a combination of preferred watch lists, what’s trending and live TV suggestions that constantly learn and recommend consumer choices for accuracy and relevance. If a fan is into football but not tennis, the TV should know through the power of the OS.
  • Voice control and search: That’s smart, accurate and relevant. This can be delivered by TV brands with AI-enabled free-flowing voice search technology that features natural, conversational dialogue. With this, users can refine the search as they go to find what they’re looking for, starting with limited information such as ‘movies about baseball’ — getting them to content faster. 
  • Immersive audio: That puts them in the heart of the action, with devices that have the flexibility and interoperability for different spaces, audio devices and budgets, as well as a simple wireless setup.

The opportunity is there for the taking 

Our own research last year found the smart TV market is ripe, with almost three-quarters (73.6%) of UK consumers owning a smart TV and households typically owning an average of 1.7 smart TVs. Added to that, 26.9% of consumers purchased a smart TV in the last six months and 15.4% of respondents expected to purchase a new smart TV within the next six months. UK retailer John Lewis also saw the sale of large TVs up 124% week-on-week when England went through to the quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup.

As such, the upcoming summer of sports provides an opportunity for TV brands to shout about next-generation smart TVs, powered by a centralised, independent, unbiased OS that will better fulfil their needs. 

Taking sports on the road

The car is quickly becoming an extension of the living room too and will provide a vital space 

for sports viewing this summer and beyond.

While radio is still the most popular entertainment source in the car, video content is taking off. The DTS Evolution of In-Car Experiences report found that high-quality video capabilities are a deciding factor in vehicle purchases for 37% of UK consumers.

Whether it’s catching up with highlights or watching live events, sports fans want the same personalised viewing experience on the go that they can get at home that goes beyond mirroring the smartphone. 

Building a unified, unbiased user interface that brings a content-first experience to the digital cockpit is crucial for future vehicles to deliver the same personalised experiences offered by smart TVs.

A new era of entertainment

Streaming and accessing the sporting events aside (my colleague Tyler Winton dives into the current landscape in this blog post), there are many opportunities for consumer electronics OEMs to entice new TV purchases this summer and reap the rewards. 

A neutral streaming platform delivers a better content discovery and delivery service to consumers and TV brands will benefit from customer loyalty if they adopt this tailored approach to user experiences. And furthermore, OEMs can capitalise on the opportunity to capture the growing portion of advertising spend allocated to streaming, as well as take advantage of ad-supported content and in-guide advertising units, but more on this another time.

I can’t tell you who will win the Euros, but I can tell you the summer of sports provides a perfect opportunity for TV brands to win brand affinity and elevate entertainment experiences for years to come.
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