One own goal won’t turn the match against mobile streaming

Following Optus' World Cup streaming disaster, OVO's chief marketing officer Nicole McInnes fights her corner in the telcos as media players debate.

As the newly-minted CMO of a business predicated entirely on hastening the convergence of media and telecommunications, that also happens to be focused on sport broadcasting, Optus’s World Cup woes have been sobering.

A cautionary tale, perhaps. Certainly a reminder that for all the opportunity available to mobile broadcasters at this point in history, there are plenty out there looking for any chance to punch holes in the model.

And what a chance this was. In the parlance of the code, this has been a spectacular own goal.

I have a vested interest in this subject. OVO is marrying mobile and media by building a telco offering around its own digital broadcasting platform, OVOPlay. OVO is predicated on the belief that mobile is the first screen, and telcos are in the best position to become the mobile broadcasters of choice.

It should be said that OVO is yet to be subjected to the rigours of a marquee event like the World Cup. Our audiences at any one moment currently reach the hundreds of thousands at best.

Yet despite the face that our content is unlikely to attract the sheer weight of simultaneous audience numbers of a World Cup opener, I have no doubt we’ll be fielding questions on what this means for the prospects of mobile broadcasting for some time to come.

My answer? Probably not as much as some may think.

Sure, there were plenty of potshots fired from different segments of our industry at Optus, and at the notion of telco broadcasters in general, last week. For example, I can see the temptation to claim victory for a traditional platform off the technical failure of the disruptor that’s playing havoc with your business model.

I’d probably have done the same myself were I wearing different shoes.

But while our opposite numbers at Optus are having a rough time of it right now, I doubt any of them would be anything but bullish about the long-term − or even short-term − prospects of its future as a sports broadcaster.

The vast majority of sports in this country are not served by free-to-air broadcasting. Our most prolific sports broadcaster, Foxtel offer a fantastic service if you’re an AFL or NRL fan, but the numbers don’t really stack up if you’re after coverage of a lesser-followed sport.

The problems are technical

The World Cup coverage issues were technical ones, which incidentally were not experienced by digital broadcasters in other parts of the world. They had the audience, but the platform let them down.

Solve the technical mishaps, and you’re left with audiences that number in the millions that are not only prepared to experience their favourite sports online, they’ll go there first given the opportunity.

Nicole McInnes is chief marketing officer at OVO.

Listen to the Mumbrella team discuss the Optus streaming meltdown on this week’s edition of the Mumbrellacast.


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