How Can Image Streaming Benefit Premier League Clubs in the 2022/2023 Season?

Close up of a football action scene with competing soccer players at the stadium

By Rob Sewell, CEO, SmartFrame Technologies

The Premier League is up and running, and after being watched by a record-breaking audience of 26.8m UK residents – that’s nearly half (40%) of the UK population – last year, this season is set to draw in crowds of viewers once again. In total, the competition broadcasts to 800 million homes in 188 countries, while the total social media following of the League and its clubs is approaching one billion.

Whether through articles, photos and videos dedicated to game highlights, specific podcasts and profiles interviewing coaches, players, or match analysis, sporting imagery is key to chronicling the whole experience. At the same time, many fans are busy connecting and engaging with their favourite teams, footballers, and fellow supporters on social media.

It’s no surprise that the League, as well as individual football clubs, are eager to connect with this devoted audience – but how can they be assured they’ll reach the right fans and make the most out of their content? With current solutions falling short when it comes to engagement, traceability, measurement, and monetisation, image streaming is a tool that can serve fans and teams alike.

Enhancing experience in every instance

Premier League clubs want to boost engagement through relevant content and a positive user experience – specifically, an experience that draws consumers in and can compete within the attention economy. One way to do this is to maximise the use of images they own and unlock their potential.

Image streaming can enhance engagement with content in a number of ways: first, streamed images benefit from being displayed with a much higher level of detail than would be practical with conventional images – up to 100 megapixels – which allows fans to examine photos in full screen through specific Hyper Zoom technology, without affecting webpage buffering times. That contested off-side? Clear as day. That winning goal? Captured in the utmost detail.

With the changing nature of sports entertainment to a more cross-platform, immersive experience – as we have seen with Manchester City’s Metaverse Kit, for example – clubs need to go beyond simply maximising coverage and start advancing opportunities for engagement and interaction where they can. By amplifying the quality and interactivity of their images, Premier League clubs can cater to the desires of the most committed fans, even those who cannot attend real-life events.

Injecting transparency into the supply chain

Another marked difference between image streaming and using traditional image formats is the powerful metadata – provided by the image creators themselves – attached to the photo. This crucial data cannot be removed, and as image streaming prevents usual methods of image sharing through disabling right-clicks or drag-and-drop actions – which many don’t realise amounts to theft – it adds an extra layer of security when it comes to brand safety, contextual targeting, and protecting the image owner from losing revenue. What’s more, any questions around the content of the image can be addressed in integrated captions that stay with the image wherever it goes – with no chance of tampering.

From a brand safety perspective, the level of detail surrounding image content – who is featured, who took the photo, what match it was – covers ground that even the most sophisticated AI-powered brand safety solutions cannot. This same mechanism also helps secure highly contextually relevant ad placements, and image owners – such as individual clubs – can monetise entire collections, either by partnering with relevant advertisers or selling their own merchandise.

Promote those kicks

The global market for sports merchandise is projected to experience a CAGR of 3.4% until 2027, a number that extends to 4% in the case of footwear and apparel. As image owners, clubs can benefit from this booming trade where previously they missed out on important revenue opportunities: through image-streaming technology, they can partner with publishers to integrate advertising into an image within a relevant online article, benefitting either through image licensing, or through the sale of team kits, toys, games, or footwear.

The technology works as follows: if a fan is reading an article or visiting a webpage featuring their favourite football team, a photo of that team featured within the text can switch to an interactive ad for the appropriate football jersey. This way, in-image advertising avoids the typical banner ad placements that many consumers have become blind to, without reverting to irritating pop-ups or other methods that may negatively impact user experience. These high-impact spots create a more enjoyable ad experience, and garner higher CPMs, all the while advertising relevant products to the football community.

Unlike current solutions, image-streaming technology can also ensure clubs that their imagery is being used appropriately and they are being compensated fairly. By incorporating tracking and measurement abilities into each image, owners can use more sophisticated analytics on their content. This allows publishers – and clubs – to see how users engage with their ads, the average interaction time, as well as whether the user employed any of the extra functions such as Hyper Zoom.

While the Premier League hasn’t changed too much in recent years, the way fans watch and engage with the competition has. Viewers have greater access to relevant content than ever before, and feeds are awash with images. Clubs can capitalise on this by maximising the use of their photos through image streaming.

vIt’s a solution that benefits all: the clubs themselves, the publishers and brands that clubs choose to collaborate with, and most importantly, the fans.

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