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I can’t tell you who will win March Madness or the Dubai World Cup, but I can predict that big changes are in store for sports television. Between the timeless dynamism of live events and the cutting-edge capabilities of today’s OTT video technologies, it’s a sure thing that we’re in a new golden age of sports TV innovation.

At the Sports Pro OTT USA conference at Citi Field earlier this month, the potential was pervasive. Co-viewing experiences, personalized camera feeds, interactivity, and more were among the trends that had the audience abuzz.

Here are just a few of the headliners that caught my eye:

  • Co-Viewing – Sports broadcasting consultant Chris Wagner pointed to the increased popularity of watch parties – sometimes with celebrity introductions –with some games attracting groups of 500 or more viewers.
  • Rich Personalization – The USGA is teeing up productions with up to 15 cameras per hole. USGA’s Amanda Weiner says “golfers expect every angle to be selectable for viewing at will to track body movement.”
  • Immersive Experiences – Sinclair talked about how Interactivity and stats overlays in live events are creating new layers of importance for rights holders, and ultimately for advertisers and brands as well.

In a business where the only limits seem to be the bounds of our imaginations, building a service that can support the features that are yet to come is critical. Rogers Sports & Media has kept its eye on that ball with its relaunched Sportsnet Now service that is harnessing the flexibility, the extensibility, the scalability, and the ultra-low latency of Firstlight Media’s cloud-native platform to drive engagement and monetization today – and into the future.

Imagine a service that zeroes in on viewing preferences as accurately as TB12 hits his receivers. That knows whether viewers want a standard hockey broadcast, a low-angle rinkside view, or just bite-sized highlights. That targets highlights, interviews, and news to individual rooting interests. That optimizes content choices and recommendations based on time of day, location and viewing device. That’s what’s coming.

Like a two-man advantage in the last two minutes, a 100% cloud-based platform is a game-changer. Its ability to deliver the right content to the right viewers can solve pesky rights and authentication issues such as zone control that have dogged sports TV for almost 50 years and open new doors to more personalized content experiences. And leveraging real-time stats and interactivity in an ultra-low-latency environment makes possible gamification features – and ultimately sports betting directly on the TV.

Picking sports winners is tough, but you can bet on this: The rise of new technologies is creating a sports TV landscape that will attract, retain and engage viewers like never before. That’s a winner for sure.

Ralf Jacob