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Saturday, July 13, 2024

1 Play Sports: Navigating the challenges of sports tech innovation

Explore how 1 Play Sports is overcoming challenges in sports tech, enhancing broadcasting with innovative technology and expanding community engagement.



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1 Play Sports started as a modest startup with a mission to democratise the streaming of smaller, less popular sports events and activities that are not typically covered by mainstream sports media, such as community and school-level sports. Founded with the vision of making sports accessible to every sports fan, the company sought to break down barriers in sports viewership. This focus on inclusivity was a response to the traditional broadcasting models that primarily catered to premier sporting events. By addressing this gap, 1 Play Sports provided a platform for lesser-known sports and cultivated a more inclusive sports culture.

As digital technologies began to reshape various industries, 1 Play Sports seized the opportunity to leverage these advancements to enhance its services. The shift toward digital was strategic, aiming to harness the power of streaming to reach a global audience. Fuelled by the rising demand for accessible sports content and the proliferation of mobile technology and broadband internet, the company embraced . This transition allowed them to offer high-quality, live-streaming services that were both scalable and cost-effective, setting a new standard in sports broadcasting.

From humble beginnings to technological advancements

The journey of 1 Play Sports began with the challenge of broadcasting sports events on a shoestring budget. Initially, the company relied on third-party platforms to deliver content, which soon revealed significant limitations regarding data ownership and revenue generation. This dependency on external platforms highlighted a critical need for content management and monetisation autonomy, leading to a pivotal shift in the company's strategy.

To overcome these challenges, 1 Play Sports developed an innovative Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform that allowed sports organisations to launch their branded over-the-top (OTT) services. This white-labelled solution required no coding, making it accessible for sports organisations of all sizes to adopt and implement. The introduction of this platform marked a significant technological advancement, providing complete control over broadcasts and direct engagement with audiences, which opened new avenues for revenue through subscriptions, advertising, and sponsorship.

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Image credit: 1 Play Sports

Today, this platform has grown exponentially, with over 40 partners utilising the service. This rapid adoption proves its effectiveness and the industry's demand for such innovative solutions. The success of its SaaS platform not only reinforced 1 Play Sports' market position but also demonstrated its pivotal role in driving broader digital transformation trends within the sports industry. This strategic pivot has enabled the company to scale its operations and provided a sustainable business model that continues influencing the sports broadcasting landscape.

Overcoming challenges and celebrating milestones

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Despite these technological advancements, 1 Play Sports encountered numerous challenges, including the need to navigate the unpredictable terrains of the sports industry. This was particularly true during the COVID-19 pandemic when the entire sports calendar came to an abrupt halt. This crisis tested the company's resilience and adaptability, pushing it to innovate and rethink its strategic approach. The pandemic also underscored the importance of flexibility and the need to maintain a strong  foundation, prompting a shift towards more sustainable growth and careful financial planning.

Amid these challenges, the company has achieved significant milestones, including securing the broadcasting rights to the National School Games. This project was not only commercially promising but also profoundly aligned with the company's mission to support community sports. Broadcasting these games allowed 1 Play Sports to further its commitment to community service, providing exposure for young athletes and delivering content with significant social value.

The broadcast of the National School Games also highlighted the company's growing influence and ability to secure high-profile partnerships. This achievement was a testament to its operational capabilities and strategic vision, helping to solidify its reputation as a leader in the sports tech industry. It also set the stage for future opportunities, opening doors to other high-stakes broadcasting projects and reinforcing its market position. 

In 2021, the company also received US$2.5 million in funding from investment firms ThinKuvate and H Capital Investment and other high-profile angel investors. This investment further enhanced the platform's capabilities and expanded into profitable markets like India and the US. The evolution from a simple streaming service to a leader in sports technology illustrates the company's trajectory towards innovation and excellence. 

Today, 1 Play Sports stands as a pioneering force, transforming how grassroots and community sports events are broadcasted worldwide. Its approach has revolutionised the viewer's experience by providing more accessibility and richer content. It has also influenced how sports are perceived and consumed globally, fostering a stronger connection between athletes and their communities.

Technological impacts and future directions

Looking to the future, 1 Play Sports is committed to incorporating advanced technologies to enhance the viewing experience and engage sports enthusiasts in unprecedented ways. The company plans to integrate artificial intelligence and machine learning to offer more personalised and interactive viewer experiences, such as gamification and automation, providing a richer and more engaging viewing experience.

Additionally, the adoption of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies is set to transform how fans interact with sports content, offering immersive experiences that bring viewers closer to the action. These innovations aim to enhance the fan experience and open new monetisation avenues through interactive advertising and premium content offerings.

Blockchain technology is another area where 1 Play Sports is set to make significant inroads. By leveraging blockchain, the company aims to solve the persistent challenges of monetisation in the broadcasting of community and grassroots sports. This technology will enable more transparent and efficient transactions, allowing creators and rights holders to reap the benefits of their content directly. Integrating these technologies signifies 1 Play Sports' commitment to staying at the forefront of the sports tech industry, continuously exploring new ways to revolutionise sports broadcasting and fan engagement.

Envisioning a connected and empowered community

As 1 Play Sports looks ahead, the company is focused on expanding its technological capabilities beyond traditional sports broadcasting. The introduction of the Playmersiv platform is a significant step towards building a more connected and engaged community. This platform aims to integrate various interactive features, such as chat rooms, coaching solutions, and fantasy leagues within the metaverse, creating a more dynamic and participatory environment for fans.

The company's vision extends to fostering community engagement across various sectors, including music and entertainment. It leverages its technological expertise to empower communities and enhance engagement across different platforms. These initiatives reflect 1 Play Sports' broader mission to innovate within the sports industry and create meaningful connections and experiences that bring people together.

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Mohit Lalvani, Founder and CEO, 1 Play Sports | Image credit: 1 Play Sports

Under the leadership of Mohit Lalvani, 1 Play Sports continues to innovate and push the boundaries of what's possible in sports tech. The company's commitment to continuous improvement and community service drives its efforts to explore new technologies and business models. This forward-thinking approach ensures that 1 Play Sports remains a key player in the sports tech landscape, ready to adapt and thrive in an ever-evolving market.

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Vanessa Koh
Vanessa Koh
Vanessa Koh is a senior writer at Tech Edition. She explores wide-ranging topics from the workplace, management, and leadership to artificial intelligence and the metaverse. She loves to work with companies and often explores how work is changing today.

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