EPL chasing the second screen
By: Andy Stout
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 5:28 am

Despite new research suggesting that in the UK 98.5% of all viewing is still via the television, broadcasters and leagues are chasing the second screen viewership with more tools and features than ever before. And one of the hardest working chasers is the EPL and the broadcasters associated with it.

The UK figures work out at 3 minutes 30 seconds of second screen viewing per day per viewer, which has surprised many with its lowness given the sheer level of noise and bluster all things second screen make. But measured against that you have to put the fact that last week 46m people watched TV every day in the UK according to ratings organisation BARB’s figures, making the second screen responsible for something in the region of 306 years of viewing every day. No wonder that BBC iPlayer saw a record three billion programme requests in 2013 – up 33% on 2012.

And as analyst Deloitte pointed out in its technology and media predictions for 2014 [http://svgeurope.org/blog/headlines/deloitte-predicts-big-sports-rights-rise/] second screen functionality is considered important for adding perceived value, even if it is then largely unused

The Carlsberg Live Match Centre is a case in point and is the latest cooperation between deltatre and the Premier League which is seeking to carve out its own global online offering independent of rights deals. Essentially it is a multi-platform website that brings together all the stats and facts from Barclays Premier League match days.

The site leans heavily on Opta’s official Premier League data feed and LiveWire Sport’s editorial services and thus aggregates live informational and editorial content from across the League including live scores and statistics; live blogging, text commentary and social media content; non-match video content; fantasy league updates and so on. The goal is that the Live Match Centre’s scalable architecture ensures that the highest quality content reaches audiences everywhere, on every device within seconds of a major match event.

That data drives other portals too. Sky Sports operates a particularly detailed site which is capable of some quite extraordinary feats of analysis using Opta data. Thus a deep mine of the recent Arsenal vs Crystal Palace on its website reveals midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s failings as he ended the game with 84 passes at a success rate of 83.3%, of which only 58 were in Palace’s half at just 77.6%.

(Though in fairness it should be pointed out that one of the comments on the story nails one of the cogent arguments against the overuse of such analysis: “Lies, damned lies and statistics. The only statistic that matters is “Goals scored: 2”).

Sky is also using EVS’ C-Cast technology to serve up its Sky Sports 360 app for such high profile matches as the Champion’s League, enabling viewers to customise screens, select match cameras for replay, jump to key moments on a timeline and more.

What is intriguing is that the second screen is also allowing for new forms of fan engagement from the EPL and other leagues, and is also widening the number of players in the market. Football magazine FourFourTwo, for example, uses Opta data to power its Stats Zone app, enabling live analysis covering all the major European football tournaments. The app is free and impressively powerful, letting users see every pass, shot, tackle, interception, foul, assist and the top match pass combinations in exhaustive detail.

It is part of the new wave of second screen apps that does far more than just serve up video on a mobile device. Squawka, for example, again uses Opta data to serve up a Player Performance Score, which it hopes will entice web users to use its site. As an illustration of the complexity that these services are reaching, this score is comprised of:

•          Action: 28 types Including passes, shots, saves, take-ons, clearances, fouls, tackles, cards, interceptions, blocks, key passes etc.

•          Execution: 942 Combinations Left foot, right foot ,head, swerving, strong, weak, volley, half volley, long ball, through ball, set piece, assist, length of pass, individual skill, flick on, forward, backward etc.

•          Outcomes: 2 Possibilities Success / Failed

•          Players: 4 Types Goalkeeper, Defender, Midfielder, Forward

•          Pitch Areas: 13

All of which results in an algorithm calculated in realtime using 14,323,744 data points.

Averaged out over 46m people, three and a half minutes of second screen time per day may not sound like much. But given the admirable ‘stickiness’ of some of the sites and apps that are being developed, the suggestion is that those that are accessing sports related second screen data are doing it more often and for longer, with the EPL very much leading the pack. And with BARB planning to roll out a system for analysing its panellists viewing on tablets in the first quarter of this year, hopefully soon the industry can put some detail on those figures.

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