When YouTube outbid Amazon and ESPN for the rights to Sunday Ticket in December, many people thought it had the potential to be a big win for consumers.
Now, NFL fans could potentially watch any game they want without being required to buy a pricey subscription to DirecTV or a cable provider. But one major issue has been dimming enthusiasm just as YouTube begins an aggressive ad campaign urging customers to sign up for the popular service: latency.
pov: you just got *$100 off* @NFL Sunday Ticket! https://t.co/ZV6z982h5g
📸: Sydney Morgan 💄
📸: Owen Han 🥪
📸: @jennabandy21 🏈 pic.twitter.com/yu5FvfAChA
— YouTube (@YouTube) April 18, 2023
The issue of the lag time between when the action occurs and when it hits peoples’ screens is particularly pressing for sports bettors, especially those who enjoy in-game betting. As of the Super Bowl, YouTube’s latency was roughly 54 seconds. While YouTube might be able to trim that down to 15 or 20 seconds using its current technology, thus eliminating most spoiler effects, it still could be an issue for highly invested gamblers looking to move quickly on shifting lines.
The latency YouTube is dealing with is exacerbated by the fact that its technology makes for asynchronous streaming, meaning individual users will be watching with different lag times.
“They’re going to have to make some decisions as to what they really want to do,” said Jed Corenthal, chief marketing officer at Phenix Real-Time Solutions, a company that specializes in high-quality, low-latency streaming technology. “You can unlock some value, I guess, by getting down to the equivalent of what the broadcast might be and eliminating spoilers to some extent, but if you go down to real time, you could unlock tremendous value by bringing in all of the interactivity you can have, whether that’s between you and the content or you and other users.
“When you watch with everyone at the same time, in real time, at least to our mind, that is a more compelling proposition.”
Core tech could be an issue
The technology is complicated, but there are two basic types of streaming in use these days. YouTube’s is based on technology developed by Apple and released in 2009. Because it breaks video down into pieces and then reassembles them, there is a floor on how low the latency can go in this form of streaming, known as HTTP Live Streaming (HLS).
The other form of streaming, developed by Google (YouTube’s parent company) as an open-source project, was released in 2011 and designed for video chats. Phenix uses that type of streaming, known as Real-Time Communication (RTC), and has refined it to 1080p quality, with 4k on the near horizon.
The next question is pretty obvious: Why doesn’t YouTube, which is reportedly paying $2 billion per year for Sunday Ticket, just partner with Phenix to offer users high-quality streaming with less than a one-second delay? Corenthal said his company has had “preliminary” talks with YouTube about working together, but that no deal has been signed as of yet.
YouTube isn’t saying how it will fix it, only that they’re aware of it and working on it. The issue could be that YouTube doesn’t want to abandon its core technology through the HLS protocol.
“The YouTube TV team is working on building a high-quality Sunday Ticket experience,” a company spokesman told Pro Football Talk in a statement. “Overall, YouTube TV is built on the infrastructure that powers YouTube and reliably serves billions of playback every day. Users can check their Live Latency in ‘Stats For Nerds’ directly in the YouTube TV app. We’re always working to find the right tradeoff between latency, buffering and quality.”
Needless to say, this is a story that isn’t going away anytime soon, especially if it lingers well into football season. You can practically hear the roar from in-game bettors already.
Betr pairs up with Cavinder twins
Considering the microbetting app Betr was co-founded by web influencer Jake Paul, it makes sense that the company would invest heavily in social-media marketing, right? Well, it seems to be selecting just the right influencers to distinguish its product in what, as we mentioned earlier, is a rapidly growing industry.
Last week, Betr Holdings announced an exclusive partnership with the Cavinder twins, Haley and Hanna. The popular basketball players will be the on-camera talent and also creative directors for what the company is saying will be female-centric sports content on the Betr platform. They also will make regular appearances on Betr Media’s flagship franchise, BS w/Jake Paul, as well on other Betr Media content.
“Betr gives us the ability to accelerate the growth of The Cavinder Twins brand in a focused and truly authentic manner,” the siblings said in a release. “We love sports, thrive on competition, and enjoy creating and bringing ideas to life. Betr truly makes The Cavinder Twins and our brand that much better and bigger.”