In this edition of ‘Sell-Side View’ VAN spoke with Rob Brown, head of LiveScore TV at LiveScore. LiveScore recently moved into the live streaming space, airing matches from Italy’s Serie A and Portugal’s Primeira Liga, among others. As such, LiveScore is busy spinning up its video ad offering. In this Q&A Brown discusses LiveScore’s early experience in the streaming space, and how live content is helping the company compete for consumers’ attention.
What is the greatest challenge facing publishers today?
I think on a broad level, it’s the same for any media, which is competing for consumers’ time. I think we’re all in the same position of trying to produce as compelling a content offering as we can, to capture as much of consumers’ time as possible. And that’s one of the reasons we’re moving into live streaming video, to drive increased dwell time on our app and website.
LiveScore users visit frequently to keep track of the scores, and that’s what happens for live streaming too – people will jump on to watch for a few minutes and then leave. The total amount of time they’re spending consuming content is pretty healthy, but they’re watching in these bite-sized chunks. You can picture users having a sneak peek at the game whenever they get a chance!
How important is video revenue to your business?
We hope it’s going to be extremely important. In fact, we think that it could be a game changer for the business, to be honest.
We already have a very advanced and established programmatic set up. But one of our USPs is our large-scale global audience. And having launched programmatic two and a half years ago, and seen the instant impact that had, I’m equally excited this time around for video.
The early signs of live streaming are such that we know that the appetite is there for video content on LiveScore, and we’re excited about its potential, particularly for our video on demand service when it launches.
Which ad tech vendors are delivering the most value to your business?
It’s no surprise that Google accounts for the majority of our programmatic revenue. We have a good relationship with their team, and we see a lot of value from Google outside of just the revenue they provide. But the same could be said of partners like Index Exchange, who have a really hands-on team which we enjoy working with. And we have strong longstanding partnerships with Verizon, PubMatic and Rubicon (now Magnite).
The thing we value most from tech partners is their time, and the insights, ideas and suggestions they share to enable us to improve. So, the partners we most enjoy working with are the one who are most proactive in the service they provide.
Which content types and video formats are working best for you today?
In terms of video advertising, the intention is to launch with pre-roll, and then we’ll work through the gears in terms of trialling different formats. So, obviously we can’t comment yet on the types of ad formats that are working. But in terms of content, live streaming is already delivering in terms of dwell time and repeat visits.
Around 70 percent of our entire app audience in the UK and Ireland have now watched some part of a match with us. And 25 percent of that number have watched 10 or more matches. So, we can already see live streaming’s impact.
When we start delivering video on-demand content I think that will enable our users to become more habitual in their consumption of video. Live matches usually happen at very specific times, and teams will only play once or twice a week. But with VOD we will have a much higher volume of content, which will be available around the clock.
It’ll be interesting to see which types of content our users enjoy. We’ll be trialling things like highlights, replays, training ground clips, press conferences, and archive matches. Our users will decide which content they like most, and then it’s our job to create more for them to watch!
Do you produce video in-house? How do you go about it?
At the moment, it’s all essentially third-party content, however we’re already having conversations about commissioning our own video on-demand content. We’ll be launching a new ‘Watch’ section which will include LiveScore commissioned video content, leveraging our global sponsorship with LaLiga.
That’s going to continue to be a theme for us. We will look to work with football clubs and leagues directly in distributing content on their behalf. But commissioning our own content is also going to be very important to us.
What do you think is your publication’s strongest USP in the eyes of your audience?
Our users know us as a fast, reliable live scores brand. Our ambition is to deliver as live an experience as we possibly can, so that remains at the heart of everything we do, and the service we provide. Live streaming is a nice way to build on that aspect of our brand.
Do you think the demise of the cookie and privacy will help or hinder publishers? How do you think the industry will adapt?
I think it’s going to help the industry, but there’s no doubt it’s going to be disruptive. And it’s definitely going to be a challenge for publishers.
We’re looking to introduce registration for the first time in the near future, and there are a couple of reasons for that, but certainly one of them is the demise of the cookie.
We want to be able to offer a much more personalised service to users, and to do that in a privacy compliant way. So, it’s definitely been a part of our thinking.
But I think anyone who works in this industry is used to having to adapt to change, and this is just another example of that!
Which social platforms are working best for you in terms of distribution, engagement and revenue generation?
We have over two million followers on Facebook, and because we’re a longstanding global brand we have a large following across social platforms in general.
In terms of activating those audiences, I wouldn’t say we’re quite where we want to be yet. Video will play a huge part in this. We engage with our users across social, but we want to be able to use the channel as an extension of our existing platforms, and to be able to surface quality VOD content. I’d say there’s still lots of potential in social for us, given the size of our following across those platforms.
What does the future hold for publishers?
It doesn’t matter what type of business you are, you have to play to your strengths. It’s always easy to look over your shoulder at what other businesses are doing. However, the businesses I find are most successful are the ones who have a very clear set of ambitions, and they know the exact direction they’re heading.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t stay aware of industry developments but I think whether you’re a publisher or any other business, you have to have a very clear focus on what success look like.
And that is what we try to do. We observe and learn from others within the industry, but first and foremost we look to play to our strengths and provide the best possible service for our users. For the first time in LiveScore’s history, we’re excited that video is going to play a key part in that ambition.