Home On TV & Video Streaming Sports Is In Desperate Need Of Standardized Measurement

Streaming Sports Is In Desperate Need Of Standardized Measurement


On TV & Video” is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.

Today’s column is by Steve Sottile, chief revenue officer at Unruly

It’s long been accepted in our industry that as long as major live sports airs on broadcast and cable, linear will stay relevant to consumers and thus to advertisers. 

But the sports industry is now also looking to participate in high-growth areas, including streaming video and connected TV.

In general, broadcast and cable apps already stream sports on their own apps or vMVPDs (virtual multichannel video programming distributors, or services that provide access to television channels via the internet). 

However, as major streaming-first platforms (read: Apple and Amazon) get serious about trying to get a piece of the pie, they’re giving broadcast a run for its money.  

Now, this fragmentation of linear and CTV is creating issues both for consumers and advertisers, particularly in terms of cross-platform measurement and audience deduplication.

The chaos behind kickoff

With so many OEMs, operating systems, content providers and streaming devices collecting their own viewership data (and keeping it within the confines of their own walls), brands cannot holistically analyze the data in a way that paints a clear picture of who they are reaching.

And among these companies, even the definition of currency within their measurement reporting creates disjointed definitions of “success.”

Let’s break down an example:


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Amazon has acquired the exclusive rights to Thursday Night Football through 2033. It is live-broadcasting 15 NFL games total this season, with all of the Thursday night games available to stream on Amazon Prime. (For the last three years, Fox owned the broadcast rights to these games, while Amazon owned the streaming rights – now Amazon owns it all.) 

In the local markets of the teams playing on any given Thursday, the games are televised for free on the Prime Video app, but out-of-market fans need an Amazon Prime subscription. Amazon is producing its own broadcast rather than using Fox’s, as it did previously.

Further, Amazon entered into an agreement with DirecTV to air the games in “more than 300,000 sports bars, restaurants, hotel lounges, retail shops and services, and many other venues nationwide.”

On Sundays, NFL games are available through NBC and their Peacock streaming platform, as well as on FOX, CBS and Paramount+. And on Monday nights, the games can be watched through Disney-owned ESPN (with a handful of games also airing on ABC).

While the Prime Video app is available on almost all smart TVs, if you’re a football fan without an Amazon Prime account, this could be aggravating. Traditionally, you could access every night of football through your linear TV or vMVPD. If you’re already paying for Peacock and/or Paramount+, you’re now going to have to fork over $139 a year to be a Prime member or $8.99 a month just for video, in addition to maintaining your cable subscription.  

Jumping over new hurdles 

While this fragmentation is frustrating for fans, imagine what it means for advertisers who already face ongoing measurement and efficiency challenges when working within the silos of the walled gardens. Multiple sources of measurement, a lack of standardization on currency and duplication unknowns are just a few of the obstacles they face.

As an advertising and media industry, we’re creating unnecessary problems for brands looking to reach an audience that’s increasingly straddling linear TV and streaming. Many in the industry are focused on offering a strong open web solution to these challenges. But we are operating in a world that lacks currency standardization.

Rather than stirring up more chaos for advertisers, the industry needs to become better aligned. Amazon partnering with Nielsen is an example of a step in the right direction. Standardization is the only path forward that will make this work, so that advertisers can actually truly understand the ROI of their spend.

Follow Unruly (@unrulyco) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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