From Facebook Live to Twitter’s Periscope, there is no denying that video streaming has become a staple of the internet – whether it is following the news, keeping up with celebrities or watching sports games live. And with a reported 78% of people watching videos online every week, it looks like the video is here to stay. In fact, it is estimated that by 2019 80% of consumer Internet traffic will be video, and if enterprises wish to stay ahead of the curve, they must fully embrace this new platform.

It is clear that viewers are flocking to the internet for all forms of entertainment – including sports.

The on-demand, always-on habit that has changed the way we live our lives was mirrored in last year’s Olympic Games, with over 100 million people streaming video of the action in Rio. In the UK, no fewer than 30.2m UK browsers streamed action from Rio on BBC iPlayer and on BBC Sport. The most popular streamed event was the men’s singles tennis final, in which 1.9m browsers watched Andy Murray as he retained his Olympic title by beating Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro.

In fact, last year, live streaming traffic from the Olympics surpassed all previous year’s numbers from the London and Sochi Olympics combined in just over a week — a powerful signal to the streaming video industry both around sports and other primetime content. Streaming video has brought the game-time experience online.

The technology that has made this possible is cloud computing. Cloud computing now enables any organisation or company to use a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.  This technology has had a massive impact on video, as the video is rich in data with visuals, graphics, film and much more, it was previously very difficult to manage, distribute and stream, until cloud computing changed all that. Today, cloud computing enables powerful and high-quality video streaming, and the sports industry have really embraced it.

In the enterprise space, 2017 will be the year that more businesses view themselves as content-service providers and begin to adopt video as a core tool for communicating with customers and business partners.  For all types of businesses and sports brands alike video streaming services offer a unique channel with which to further engage customers with content. Video allows brands to analyse and understand how their audiences are consuming video content, what they prefer watching and how they react to certain images in real-time. These types of insights are invaluable for customer retention.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Online streaming platform Footters has adopted IBM Cloud Video to bring football enthusiasts together” hashtags=”Cloud,IBM”]

Today, it is crucial for enterprises to provide additional value to ensure customer retention and similarly, there is demand for new products and services when it comes to the sports industry.  For example, online streaming platform Footters has adopted IBM Cloud Video to bring football enthusiasts together, to deliver on-demand video content for football players – professional and amateur alike. The Spanish company aims to connect as many as 24 million football teams and 270 million players around the world with its platform designed to stream amateur matches and through the platform enable professionals from across the world to have the opportunity to meet and collaborate. Footters is currently working with 50 teams to help connect them with other players, agents, scouts, institutions, tournaments, brands and even families – demonstrating the unifying power of live video.

Unsurprisingly, it is not only traditional media services that have seized the opportunity to employ video to embrace fans, but key players from outside the industry. Until recently, media industry experts viewed sports as a way to prevent cord cutting (i.e. cancelling traditional TV or satellite services). Controlling sports, it seemed, would allow cable providers and major television networks to maintain fans’ subscriptions. But in the meantime, non-media companies have joined the streaming video fray.

Twitter’s Periscope was one of the first social media platforms to allow users to create live broadcasts which were followed by their announcement that 10 NFL games will be streamed for free on Twitter.

Clearly, streaming video is drawing new categories of investors because there’s money to be made. In the UK, nearly a quarter of UK households subscribe to Netflix for on-demand streaming, with 1.4 million joining the streaming service in 2015 alone.

Online streaming of live professional sports is the future, and TV companies and sports channels must wake up to the reality that the sports entertainment landscape is rapidly changing. With an ever increasing number of sports fans opting to stream matches, we must be ready to embrace video streaming, and fast!

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Doug Clark (@cloudstuff) leads IBM Cloud Video for IBM in EMEA – he’s on a mission to help clients unlock the full power of Video; seizing their full business growth potential and uncompromised agility through the Cloud.

With over 15 years of International experience in IT and including over 5 years leading IBM Cloud: Doug’s mission spans all clients; all sizes; all sector including Media and Entertainment.  After running IBM’s Cloud Business in UK & Ireland, he now leads a Cloud team of industry specialists, marketing and technical solution architects. Prior to joining IBM via PwC, Doug’s held Director roles in Marketing, Sales, Distribution and Process Improvement in 2 industry Blue Chips, so brings experience that underpins his passion in Tech and his eminence as a Cloud thought leader – Doug won Cloud Personality of the Year in the 2016 UK Cloud Industry Awards.