In April 2023 it isn’t uncommon to fire up a live sports streaming service and find that a baseball game has broken out between the sportsbook commercials you logged on to watch. A forthcoming Apple tvOS update could help you cut through that chaff to access even more of those sweet, sweet sports betting ads.
Multiple sources have reported that Apple TV’s operating system will soon include a feature allowing you to stream as many as four live sporting events at the same time. Although that option is not new or unique to the device, its proliferation could impact legal US online sportsbooks and the people who use them.
What the experts are saying about the new Apple tvOS update
Apple isn’t the only company working on the split your screen four ways to stream all the sports option. In March, Chris Welch of The Verge reported that YouTube was working on the same thing for its YouTube TV platform.
However, the reported news about Apple TV’s update is a bit more concrete as it affects the actual hardware and operating system you will need to do that. Among the publications spilling the unconfirmed beans are 9to5Mac and TechRadar.
For the technologically fluent, the tvOS update is 16.5.2 and is currently in limited beta testing. Apple has made very limited information about the release available. However, the sources concur with each other on the pertinent details.
Chance Miller, writing for 9to5Mac, says the code in the release “suggests Apple has been working on a new quad-box picture-in-picture framing for the TV app, specifically for streaming multiple sporting events at the same time.”
David Nield of TechRadar reinforces that reporting, stating, “a multi-view option was spotted in the tvOS update last month, but the code was hidden and not enabled.” Nield adds that he believes that Apple should be unveiling it soon.
The capability will have its limitations at first. However, the implications both have drawbacks and upsides for sports fans.
The future is extremely futuristic
Miller and Nield also report that at first, this feature will only work with Apple TV content. Apple has live streaming rights for competitions like select Major League Baseball games and Major League Soccer matches.
Thus, the appeal of the feature might not be broad immediately. However, as other companies like YouTube improve their product in ways that Welch explains, it could include other services. That could mean ramifications for a lot of involved parties, including sportsbooks.
Should “quad-streaming” multiple sporting events at one time become a hot trend, marketers will adjust. For one thing, while you can view up to four events at the same time, you can only stream the audio from one of those events at a time.
The Apple tvOS update will let you switch between those audio feeds to the extent your Internet bandwidth can handle. However, that means any audio message advertisers send to viewers will be less likely to actually be heard.
That could incentivize ad agencies to prioritize messaging that needs no sound. Additionally, as viewers’ eyes will often be switching from one quarter-screen to the next, ads taking a mere few seconds to convey their message will be most effective.
There’s definitely an upside to a lower priority on audio in television commercials. It could mean fewer instances of increasing the volume during the content only to have your hearing impaired by the deafening sound of commercial audio.
There are downsides as well, though. What’s going to wake you up should you fall asleep during the fourth inning if the people in the commercials are no longer screaming at you like they are trying to get your attention in a crowded nightclub?
Also, it could mean that your exhaustion with sports betting content might just be beginning.
If you thought it was bad now…
By simple math, “quad-streaming” could increase the amount of sports betting content you consume by 75%. That includes not only advertisements for sportsbooks, but also activations via in-game mentions or segments during breaks in the competitions.
Instead of subjecting yourself to one source of that content, you add as many as three more sources by streaming live sports this way. However, if the advertising industry adapts to the new format, the whole could be greater than the sum of its parts.
For many sports fans, that could be an unwelcome change. Will Leitch did a great job of presenting that perspective for The Intelligencer. Among common criticisms that Leitch and others lob at the sportsbooks are that the content detracts from their enjoyment of the competition.
At the same time, Leitch acknowledges that companies like Apple and YouTube that offer live sports streaming don’t do so because it’s fun or they’re just super nice. They do it to make money. The best way to make money off such content is to sell ads within it.
For the time being, there are few if any restrictions on how much sports betting marketing content can take place within live sports broadcasts. Such restrictions might be difficult to enforce on streaming platforms as well.
Why streaming might be the future bastion of sportsbook marketing
Tighter restrictions could apply to content promoting sports betting during live sports in the future. For example, Maine’s draft sports betting regulations propose to limit those advertisements to only when the appropriate sporting events are actually taking place.
While those restrictions might cause linear broadcasters to bend to state governments’ wills, streaming platforms could prove trickier. On the federal level, such restriction would be a tall order. The FCC plainly states that it “does not regulate online content.”
In 2021, Hulu and Netflix filed suit to block multiple attempts by municipalities and states to enforce laws that were originally enacted for linear broadcasting stations. Thus, the ability to restrict sports betting content on streams of live sports is murky right now at best.
Should states regulate linear broadcasts in that way, that would further incentivize sportsbooks to devote more of their marketing capital to streaming. There is another possible impact for both bettors and sportsbooks.
The lag gap could expand
Currently, live betting on sporting events in the US has its limitations. Among those are the lag between when events actually play out and when the data feeds in sports betting apps update to reflect those events. Lag takes on an additional meaning in this context, too.
There’s also the lag in the streaming services. According to Mediakind, the average latency in live sports streams is between 45 seconds and a minute. Depending on viewers’ Internet speeds, “quad-streaming” could further that delay.
Whether that will serve as a deterrent to live betting as fans are watching remains to be seen. Should that be the case, that might only provide more motivation to advertise. The result might be a schadenfreude of sportsbook executives’ making for bettors.
One man’s dystopia is another’s paradise
The arc of future events tend to follow past narratives. At one time, paying for access to television programming was sold as a way to skip out on TV commercials. Sandra Salmans wrote for the New York Times in 1981 about how that was ending. It lasted about as long as Anthony Scaramucci in the White House.
Following that, streaming services touted themselves as a cheaper way to avoid the advertisement bombardment. In the vein of cable, though, those services have raised their subscription prices and introduced advertisements.
In April 2023, you can stream “Finding Nemo” on Disney+ without ads for your kids but not unless you pay Disney $11 a month. Upon that service’s debut in 2019, it cost $7 monthly and offered ad-free streaming of its content library.
Streaming services will continue to maximize the profitability of their products. For people accessing live sports streams, whether that be one, two, three, or four at a time, that probably means more rapid sports betting content is on the way.