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Understanding data and its value

Here is your MyCujoo team with the “Sports Industry Brief”, a monthly newsletter to our partners, offering perspectives on the wider trends of sports and business across the world. This month, we look at the benefits of the ownership and usage of data...

Sports Industry Brief

Despite being a subject at the forefront of the sports industry in recent years, and one only growing in importance, data (and its benefits) has been often misunderstood.

The catch-all ‘data’ term often refers to the collation of user data by rights-holders (‘first-party data’), broadcasters or publishers, and then its subsequent usage to personalise a streaming offering or optimise advertising. On the flip side, data can refer to the sale of rights by sports organisations to gather official data and sell it on, often to bookmakers, and with the added motivation of ensuring integrity (see the recent ATP Tour-IMG and FIBA-Genius Sports deals for high-profile examples).

At the sharp end of the industry, the Bundesliga is among the most sophisticated in its (match) data gathering and exploitation for commercial gain, using its in-house Sportec Solutions to collect datasets that help drive increased revenues from rights-holding broadcasters or additional income from the betting and gaming sectors. However, for you, the content rights holders in the long tail, it is the effective gathering and usage of user data to deepen your relationship with the fan that will primarily make the difference.

Our vision at MyCujoo is to work together with our partners to scale content production, promote distribution and generate new revenue streams. For that reason, we are constantly looking to innovate and optimise the commercialisation of our partner’s content on their behalf. And match data is a hugely valuable piece of that monetisation puzzle.

MyCujoo has partnered with market leaders in sports data monetisation to package and generate revenue from the data around the content. In a nutshell, this programme concerns official match data collection via a low-latency stream combined with physical collection in-stadium. MyCujoo provides this official match data to our partners, generating a per match revenue which we proactively share with our partners once their content becomes part of the agreement. By combining official match data collection over the stream and in-stadium, the programme enables transparency and integrity over activities around match data.

Our data partners identify an initial portfolio of competitions, which will expand progressively. The commercialisation potential of our match data assets depends heavily on the number of matches streamed in that competition (the closer to 100% the better), and whether they are scheduled in advance (10 days minimum).

Know your customer

Many rights holders have traditionally opted to allow a third party to take on their media rights but, in doing so, are left with little contact with their fans as the direct relationship is taken on by the broadcaster or live streaming platform. This represents a missed opportunity for small- to mid-sized football organisations seeking to maximise technological disruption.

While it remains tempting to take up the guarantee of media exposure, a club, federation or league will only develop its audience in the long term by partnering with a platform that works with a rights holder to maximise the customer relationship for both parties. Major third-party streaming platforms, be it Facebook or YouTube, fail to offer flexible data collection or freely share data with those who provide the content.

Maximising distribution but failing to drive value from streaming customers’ data analytics is a pitfall for long-tail rights holders to avoid. As George Pyne, CEO of Bruin Sports Capital, remarked in Deltatre's 2019 sports streaming study: "The investment in OTT will drive innovation that fuels growth businesses informed by deep levels of data and insights derived from a highly-engaged, rapidly growing audience. Those that ignore this opportunity will pay a real penalty because they’ll miss out on a highly-valuable consumer base which nobody can afford to do."

In partnering with the FIH in a revenue share agreement with no up-front cost, MyCujoo is as motivated as field hockey’s world body to effectively gather customer data, while delivering live and personalised non-live content that drives audience and revenues. It is the pairing of communities of fans with content shaped by behavioural analytics that allows both MyCujoo and a rights holder to harness the benefits of data.

Pedro Presa, MyCujoo’s CEO, notes: "By securing exclusive and multi-year rights to live stream different football leagues, we are best positioned to understand football consumer demographics, as well as consumer habits – for instance whether they watch highlights, or full games, or both. As we collect further data on the consumers, we are able to construct diversified offers for different markets and partner with various organisations through scalable business models."

Although the lure of wide distribution may be compelling, there is potential for greater financial returns by building a long-term digital community, showcasing content on controlled networks such as MyCujoo, where content rights holders can take control of their data, instead of giving this up, sometimes free of charge, to huge data networks.

The thought of gathering user data to optimise your product can seem a technological headache. However, evolving your product using the ‘lean development’ concept, a term coined in the software development industry, can optimise efficiency and decrease costs.

As stakeholders rush to launch OTT platforms and apps, the less is more approach is the one to follow, with information gained straight from the source and software needs simplified.

Match your data with your audience

Realising the value of your own match data is also crucial in enhancing the user experience. Take the example of the L.A. Clippers’ ‘CourtVision’ concept in the NBA. The service allows users of the Fox Sports app to control their own viewing experience, using real-time data and graphics to retain the attention of tech-savvy fans.

Germany’s Handball Bundesliga was another to recently add more interactive content through data collection, teaming up with Kinexon to provide teams with an innovative chip and sensor network that facilitates real-time data tracking and performance analysis. This, in turn, adds value to broadcasts of Bundesliga matches and generates further social media engagement.

Analysing customer data to work out what they want to watch is key to deepening the fan relationship. A PwC study found that 56 per cent of US fans want more interactive content, be it stats, exclusive interviews or the chance to chat with other fans while watching the live event. Indeed, US sports such as baseball or basketball have lent themselves to stats and data, perhaps given the popularity of player drafts and fantasy sports stateside, and football has been slower to realise their importance.

Owning the league/fan relationship by offering the fan the desired content helps build a football community that retains users, delivering benefits for the long-tail rights holders and advertisers alike. The provision of official game data keeps fans engaged for longer and, in turn, creates more consumption data from the user. It can increase fans’ time spent on the platform, making them more likely to buy a product, and particularly if the consumption data has been used effectively to tailor advertisers’ messages in innovative ways.

Regardless of their size, football stakeholders must maximise the benefits of both user data and match data to come out on top in the battle for users’ attention in a disrupted media landscape, and MyCujoo is perfectly placed to guide you on that journey.

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