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How YouTube has established itself as a leading destination for sports content


Organizations around the world have seen YouTube as a platform that connects users. Sports properties in particular have seen this platform as a mode through which they can communicate and connect with their audience. The advancement of this space has given sports properties more options to engage with users and it has provided another channel through which they can generate revenue.

YouTube is a leading destination for sports fans and with the platform garnering more attention from potential audiences, sports properties are now turning their head toward this platform.

Highlights is a shopping window for greater revenue and data

The data that is available on YouTube helps organizations gather insights into the type, length, and variety of content that people are watching. The presence of this data is valuable in the long run as organizations can analyze their audience’s consumption habits and with the given analysis, they can devise a digital media strategy that would cater to their audience demand.

“YouTube highlights are like a movie trailer that encourages viewers to subscribe. We’re happy for that graduation to happen and we don’t always need to be the destination”.

“We really want the industry to understand how YouTube makes you money elsewhere. Proving that link between people watching your content and then paying for that content elsewhere is something we’re really passionate about and we’re willing to co-found research to do so.”


With monetization playing an important role for organizations, YouTube has spent years developing the right advertising management tools and programs that give organizations complete control over how their content generates income.

“We launched a partner program a few years ago and we’ve really been ahead of the curve so that programme really is market-leading,” Pilgrim said. “We’ve got advanced tools where partners can block advertisers. If you have sponsorship deals in place and you’re worried about potential conflicts then you can block those competitors from advertising on your content.

With other options available YouTube has come up with a new membership program that would allow the most passionate fans to pay a monthly fee in exchange for additional benefits and exclusive content.

“YouTube has always been an advertising business at our core but we have recognized that partners and creators have asked us for new ways to monetize,” Pilgrim explained. “Memberships have been very successful.

“You can have a paid section of your YouTube channel that ‘super fans’ can have access to. Liverpool FC has a few thousand members each paying US$5 or so. We’ve also brought in paid events.”

Importance of showcasing highlights and live matches in YouTube

Showcasing highlights is an important feature of YouTube. It provides the perfect platform through which sporting competitions can upload their highlight videos and with the platform being easy to access the sporting property would find it easy to draw a large audience. Seeing this as an opportunity many competitions announce tie-ups with YouTube with the objective of attracting and retaining a large audience base. One of YouTube’s first tie-up with a live sporting event was with the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2010, since then the platform has showcased different sporting competitions from the UEFA Champions League finals to the World Handball Championship. The easy accessibility of this platform provides right holders a convenient and efficient route to the market.

Latin American broadcaster Marca Claro showcased the entire Olympic games competition on its YouTube channel and the objective of using this platform was to reach a youthful audience. The social media giants saw the attention that these competitions received on their sites as commercial opportunities which should be explored hence they took the decision to implement DAI into its platform. Most videos are monetized via a few pre-roll adverts however the implementation of Dynamic ad insertion (DAI) would completely change the game as it would allow creative, tailor-made ads to show on videos. This software analyzes the consumption habits of the user and based on their habits would an ad be showcased in the video.

“With DAI we’re really looking to supercharge revenue not just on the body content, which is just one pre-roll ad, but also on live content where we’re looking to add multiple ads,” explained Pilgrim. “[DAI] might seem like quite a small technical thing, but I’m told by our engineering team that this is a non-trivial thing to build. “If you’re watching a football game on YouTube, that one ad might have generated a few thousand dollars of revenue. Now if you have 50 ads and you maintain the same cost per impression (CPI), you can quickly imagine that number goes [much higher] and [streaming] becomes very viable.”

Learn more about YouTube releasing updated sports platform and its latest CTV offer

Content protection is vital

Many sporting competitions consider YouTube to be an integral part of the broadcasting landscape and the reason behind it is the problems that the platform addresses. YouTube had implemented a software called ‘Content ID’ which detects any copyright infringement made by videos uploaded. Sporting competitions experience a sense of security when they know that their content is being protected and with YouTube taking the necessary steps to mitigate the risk sports competitions are now exploring the idea of broadcasting live events on YouTube. Easy accessibility and a sense of security has made YouTube an option for sporting properties to showcase live events and highlights.

“We’ve got this really impressive system that can use Machine Learning to fingerprint video, understand what’s in it and then look around YouTube and find other copies of that video,” Pilgrim said. “From this point on, it’s the rights holder’s choice. They can take it down, monetise it or track the data on it.”