Why isn’t there a streaming app for the Premier League?


Premier League App Design
My Premier League App Design







Introduction

All the workings in this case study have been done by me.



Case Study Overview
Case Study Overview

As a 20 something I mainly watch content on my laptop or phone. My traditional TV consumption has decreased as most content I want to consume is online via Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime and other sources of online entertainment. I’m writing this during the pandemic and due to all the changes within the world, UK sports broadcasters have made all Premier League football games available for viewers to watch from the safety of their homes. The English Premier League made every game available via Sky Sports, BT Sports, BBC and Amazon Prime. In contrast, the NBA has always made games available via their League Pass app and different international and national sports broadcasters. The NBA stream all games through their app, so fans have the option to watch all the games in one location rather than have multiple subscriptions to different services.


For this case study, I will be creating a concept for a Premier League streaming app. The Premier League have spoken about creating a “Netflix style[1]” streaming service but currently split the digital rights for live games between Sky Sports and BT Sports were users have to pay at least £48 per month (taken from the Sky TV website)to watch live games. For that price, users don’t get full access to all Premier League games getting 3–5 games a week out of 10 weekly games. With uncertainty over when fans can return to football stadiums and with the continuous battle with piracy, a subscription service may financially help the Premier League and allow users to watch their favourite teams from home. Streaming could allow the PL to earn multi-millions from different territories, for example, the PL could potentially make another £100m in Singapore alone[2].


Not only does this allow users in the UK to watch their favourite teams, but it also allows users globally to watch the Premier League in their own time zone easily via an app. For example, the NBA saw view amongst international viewers increase by 15% for the 2018–2019 season and total watch time for NBA League Pass internationally is up 16%[3]. An app can increase the viewership for all the teams as there is a financial disparity over TV money payouts between the 20 teams in the PL. Based on 2018–2019 league season, Liverpool (finished 2nd in the league) were the most televised team[4] with 29/38 of their games viewed live on TV earning them £33.5m in TV revenue. Huddersfield (finished bottom of the league) only had 8/38 games viewed live on TV earning £12.3m in TV revenue. There’s been a constant battle for teams closer to the bottom of the table to be viewed more on broadcaster channels to increase their TV revenue which would help the clubs financially.


Data from UK television rating body Barb has revealed 14.27 million households in the UK now hold a subscription to at least one of Netflix, Amazon Prime or Sky’s Now TV[5]. It marks the first time that more than half of UK homes have a subscription to at least one of three services. It’s proven that users are interested in streaming PL games as Amazon Prime Video’s UK subscriber numbers increased by 35-per-cent year-on-year during the fourth quarter of 2019[6] on the back of its coverage of football’s English Premier League.


Research

Target Audience


Premier League Target audience (according to ec.europa, Global Web Index and premierleague.com)
Premier League Target audience (according to ec.europa, Global Web Index and premierleague.com)


Competitor research As this is an app concept, I’ve conducting market research on the competition and also other non-football streaming services. I’ve chosen to look at other streaming services such as Netflix (currently at 192m users[7]) to build the design around apps consumers would be used to, leaning into Jacob’s Law[8] “Users spend most of their time on other sites. This means that users prefer your site to work the same way as all the other sites they already know.”

For my competition analysis, I looked at Amazon Prime Video, DAZN, Sky Sports and BT Sports. Two of these are international and two are only based in the UK.



Competition Analysis
Competition Analysis

Above is a table breakdown of the competitors I’ve outlined. Which focuses on price, markets, customer ratings (using Amazon reviews and Trust Pilot) and how users use their platforms.


User Research

Following my research on potential competitors of a Premier League streaming app, I conducted a user survey to find out what sports viewers liked when watching sports, their pain points and any other affinity to do with streaming apps in general. I was able to get 12 participants to take and complete the survey. I targeted sports fans as I wanted to get an overview point on how sports fans as a whole respond to questions about watching sports.


Survey questions asked:

1. What’s your sex?

2. Age range

3. What sports do you watch?

4. How often do you watch sports?

5. What devices do you watch sports on?

6. Have you heard of any of these sports services?

7. How much a month do you pay to watch sports per month? (Equivalent to £ e.g. £9.99 would be $9.99)

8. Are you happy with the amount you’re paying per month?

9. What sports service do you pay for? E.g. NBA League Pass

10. How satisfied are you with the service?

11. What would you change about the service you are using?

12. Do you stream non-sporting content?

13. Do you stream using any of these services?

14. Would you pay for a sports streaming service which shows all live games per season? E.g. NBA League Pass


Survey Results
Survey Results



Highlights from the survey
Highlights from the survey

Analysis:

After looking at my survey results, I decided to run a SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses, Opportunity Threats) analysis on the potential streaming rivals. The competition shares many of the same features across the SWOT analysis.





Pain points around pricing and game access apply to Sky Sports and BT, however, 72% watch their sport on TV. This presents a good secondary option for the Premier League similar to how the NBA League Pass operates. NBA games are still televised, but like the Premier League they are limited in each game week, but they still allow fans to stream all games via their app. Fans without access to the app can still continue to watch games via TV instead of having to be shifted online. This is an issue Amazon Prime faces as it’s only online.


DAZN on the other hand is online and on TV (location depending), has a good price point but can only stream Premier League games in Canada.


According to my user survey results, 50% of users don’t pay for streaming (pirating) and only 9% paying over £30 per month. Piracy affects the industry as a whole, but it is believed to be hurting sports a lot. Leagues have taken it upon themselves to create campaigns against piracy[9]. The Premier League has also been warned the teams near the bottom of the league table “will fall off a cliff unless online piracy is faced down[10]”.


A cheaper monthly option which is mainly online would be favourable amongst customers. 63% stream football games, 36% via phone/tablet and 63% were happy with how much they were paying. Most of the survey takers paid £30 or less per month.


A global app would appeal to this online audience with 58% saying they would pay for an online sports streaming service. This could also reduce piracy for the Premier League. In the last 5 years music illegal downloading decreased from 18% to 10% due to music streaming apps. YouGov found that 63% of people who have stopped illegally downloading music now use streaming services[11]. Respondents to this survey claimed it was “easier to stream than pirate” and “Spotify has everything from new releases to old songs, it filled the vacuum, there was no longer a need for using unverified sources.”


The focus from results:


From my survey results and competitor research, I’ve decided to look at DAZN, Sky Sports, BT Sports, Netflix and YouTube for design inspiration and deeper competitor research. Netflix and YouTube have been included as 83.3% of users used these apps for streaming (Jacob’s Law). Both apps focus on TV, laptop/computer and phone, the majority of survey takers watched sports either on TV or laptop/computer. Research has shown that more sports fans are watching more content on their smartphone than their television despite a preference for large screen viewing (Forbes[12]).






User Personas Based off my survey and wider audience research, I created three different user personas to build the identity of who would be using the Premier League streaming app.




Wire-framing Low- Fidelity I began mapping out my designs with low-fidelity wireframes




Mid-fidelity

Once I had mapped out the rough idea of my low-fidelity I created my mid-fidelity which would then be tested by users to see what worked, what didn’t and what needed to be changed before designing my high-fidelity.





After creating my wireframes, I sent my mid-fidelity designs to different users to get user feedback on the design layout, their experience and any improvements I can make on the design. I did change some of the aspects from my low-fidelity to mid-fidelity wireframes creating more negative space on the web layout. This was picked up on by a user who questioned the amount of space being left on the mid-fidelity. This feedback favours going back to my original design which follows the design of the likes of YouTube and Netflix.



User comment about the mid-fidelity
User comment about the mid-fidelity


High-fidelity Design

Round 1


Following the user feedback, I made changes to the designs to reflect the comments. With the changes applied, I then ran a high-fidelity test amongst users to see if the changes resonated well. There were further comments on making some of the categories to users. Users who have some interest in football but not a long history may seem confused compared to the target audience.





User feedback
User feedback

User feedback
User feedback


User feedback on the app design
User feedback on the app design


User comment
User comment


Round 2 With this feedback, I made changes to my designs to reflect the comments.






I added extra labelling to the thumbnails to help organise and navigate users so they can tell the difference between the sub-categories.

After these changes, I ran a “5-second user test” to see how users would interact with the homepage of the app and answer a few questions based off just a 5-second eye test. The 5-second test provides both quantitative and qualitative feedback that helps you optimize a design[13]. Seven users took the test and answered the following questions:

1. Does this look like a usable sports streaming interface?

2. Is there anything missing from the interface?

3. Does it remind you of any other streaming services?

I focused on these questions to see if within a 5-second look if the app looked like a sports streaming app.

  • 5/7 of the users saying it did. I asked if they thought anything was missing with one saying yes, one user saying it would be nice to see videos and another saying a search bar is missing

  • 2/7 users felt that the app looked like BBC Sport and BT Sport, one felt it looked like streaming with the others saying no.

With these those comments and suggestions, I went back to review my app design vs what the competition produced:

Adding a search button to the tab menu:

  • YouTube and Netflix have search icons within their interface. YouTube at the top and Netflix has the search button in the tab bar

Adding an icon to video thumbnails:

  • Sky Sports has the play icon on its video content and Netflix has the play icon on content users have already been watching and can dive back into.


Final Prototype


Mobile Mock Up
Mobile Mock Up







Test prototypes here:

Mobile App: https://xd.adobe.com/view/a8ef3ce1-d381-4b02-9ecd-ed4c0fd434e2-fdbc/?fullscreen&hints=on

Web App: https://xd.adobe.com/view/b1067dfc-9b33-4959-8e11-33f26e8405ad-e455/?fullscreen&hints=on


Conclusion

With the uncertainty around when fans will be allowed to return to watch live games, a streaming app would help both financially for the Premier League and allow fans to watch their team(s) live. The Premier League announced on 09/10/20 that after October 2020, games which are not scheduled to be on either Sky Sports or BT will be available via Pay Per View at reported £15 per game[14]. This new method hasn’t had a good reception with both fans and pundits criticising the move by the PL. DAZN was bought up as comparison by some fans who highlighted how DAZN’s monthly subscription fee which includes all games is cheaper than one PPV PL match. A move towards an app like the NBA League Pass would be welcomed by fans for both monetary and being able to watch games in one place.


The case study has given me an insight into how businesses can develop but may hold themselves back with timing and a lack of innovation. The PL have flirted with the idea of creating an app, and due to the pandemic, they are paying for their lack of action. A subscription fee may not replace the amount of money lost at the gate due to COVID-19 restrictions, however, an app would keep fans happy and provide an extra revenue stream. In Q2 during the pandemic, Netflix added 10m customers[15] relating the spike due to consumers being stuck at home.

I enjoyed the improvements I’ve made from my previous case studies and was able to try out new methods of research. This allowed me to experiment with different methods and broaden my outreach to new users.


References:

[1] Premier League’s new chief says Netflix-style overseas service is on cards

[2] Premier League’s new chief says Netflix-style overseas service is on cards

[3] More non-US fans than ever are using the NBA League Pass

[4] Liverpool most-televised Premier League team

[5] Amazon Prime subscribers boosted by Premier League coverage

[6] Amazon Prime subscribers boosted by Premier League coverage

[7] Statista

[8]Laws of UX — Jacob’s Law

[9] Serie A: ‘Piracy kills football’

[10] Premier League clubs warned of revenue fall unless piracy is tackled

[11] ‘Spotify has everything’: Piracy drops as streaming wins over illegal downloaders

[12] Sports Fans More Likely To Consume Smartphone Content But Pay-TV Still Popular

[13] 5 Second Test: https://usabilityhub.com/guides/five-second-testing

[14] League confirms the latest interim broadcast arrangements for fans: https://www.premierleague.com/news/1859021?sf238670855=1

[15] The pandemic has been great for Netflix: https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/7/16/21327451/netflix-covid-earnings-subscribers-q2


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