Betting on ultra low latency streaming

Horse race
Per Lindgren, Net Insight
Opinion
June 9th 2017 at 12:56PM : By

Sync and delay problems can ruin the sports viewing experience – and it’s worse if you have money riding on it. Per Lindgren, SVP of live OTT at Net Insight, shares insights on improving the live betting

In sports, every second counts. Timing is everything. And when it comes to live streamed OTT media, timing is the most valuable player in the technology game. With the increase in mobile device viewing and social media, timing can make the difference between an amazing, or ruined experience.

No matter what type of live-streamed entertainment a consumer seeks, everyone wants to experience the excitement first hand and be the first to know - regardless of location or device. This is the expectation of “live.”

But if truly “live” necessary to meet today’s user expectations, we have a big problem: today’s live video CDN services can operate with variable end-to-end delays of 10-60 seconds.

That is a long time in a live entertainment experience, and more than enough time for a friend to Tweet you a spoiler.

A high profile example of this issue happened last year. The NFL and Twitter began offering “live” Thursday night American Football games viewable via an app. Unfortunately, consumers heard from their friends via social media messages about in-game action and touchdowns before they could see it for themselves.

Online betting ups the game

An increasingly popular area of live OTT engagement is online betting. with the betting consumer seeking online, mobile and in-game betting. The issues around timing in online betting make the worries seen in live OTT sports and TV events seem like child’s play. Not only does it require video delivery, but betting also requires that real-time data, likie betting statistics, be delivered to both betting shops and to users.

In the betting world, the “betting window” is critical. The longer the delay in delivering live streams to second screen mobile devices and betting shops, the shorter the time customers have to place a bet. Both the betting shops and users benefit from a long betting window.

If truly ‘live’ is necessary to meet today’s user expectations, we have a big problem

Betting punters want the ability to follow the action and bet as close to the betting window closing as possible. They want precise control over when a bet is placed. But with today’s OTT delays, the betting window could have closed long before you see the action on the screen. For betting companies, this results in void bets and a bad user experience, which results in both missed revenue and missed opportunities to provide differentiated services.

Truly live OTT

Three capabilities need to be present to solve the issues in today’s live OTT environment. Just live is not enough.

What the solution requires is true live OTT. True live OTT has three characteristics: ultra-low latency streaming, constant delay and synchronisation.

Ultra low latency streaming takes the delay down to only 1-2 seconds, also to mobile devices. Constant delay means that as the time passes, the delay does not increase, as happens in most OTT streaming. Synchronisation means that every screen receives frame and time accurate delivery across platforms, including mobile devices.

This fixed ultra low delay and frame-accurate synchronisation results in a truly live OTT to every location and device.

Enhanced experience

In addition to solving the betting window issue, truly live OTT streaming offers opportunities for creating an enhanced betting experience.

A basic usage scenario may be that consumers bet on live events using their mobile device, while watching that event on their primary TV screen, transmitted over traditional linear broadcast television. A synchronised OTT solution could add to the linear broadcast by allowing extra statistics and complementary streaming footage and camera angles.

Beyond this, one enhancement is the ability for fast channel switching. Because of this capability, viewers can change camera angles, becoming their own producers and following their favorite player, horse or car up to the last second before placing their bets.

In today’s competitive betting market, it is crucial to provide a sticky experience and many are looking at building a social channel right into the live feed, creating a community that can be monetised. This opens the possibility for in-game and in-app community betting, and social wagering.

Betting companies often have people on site to close in-game bets. The same people may push out notifications about break points, birdie putts and penalties. This helps pushing people into additional real-time, bettable events. Because of the synced delay, additional value can also be added via social polling and other interactivity.

Once users are engaged, they can set preferences for notifications on favorite activities or ongoing bets. Betting companies can curate preference data to personalize the user’s experience with recommendations and notifications about favorite teams, sports or betting events.

Ultimately the key to growth in the live betting market is an enhanced experience. Through implementing technology that enables ultra-low latency streaming, constant delay and synchronisation of live OTT streams across all screens this can now happen. You can bet on it!