For the 2020 NFL season, we had the opportunity to design and develop an all-new Live Game Player for our clients’ iOS and Android apps. The complex, fully-custom project was driven by business needs and feature requests from the NFL, its broadcast partners, and our NFL clients.
Here’s how it works: fans within the team’s broadcast designated market area (DMA) are able to watch the live game broadcast within the app, and they’re presented with team and player stats, as well as drive summaries. Think about the tremendous engagement value this experience brings to the app! With most fans limited in their ability to participate in “traditional” game day activities, a team’s owned channels, particularly digital platforms, become crucial to maintaining a strong connection with its fanbase…and LIVE is still King.
When first approached for this project, we were presented with some interesting business and UX/UI challenges. For example, our teams requested that the player auto-launch upon app open while the game was in progress and follow a complex rule set of exclusions based on location, connection type, and varying broadcast rules that can change game-to-game. To accomplish that, we built a flexible and scalable middleware that can accommodate adjustments to the rules on the fly.
We decided to default the auto-open frequency to once for a variety of reasons, including maintaining the value of each team’s main landing page. We had to then create this in such a way that it could be variable per team, and even per game, because some venues are allowing fans (hey, it’s bound to happen at some point…right?), which might change a team’s strategy around what occurs when the app opens. For a lot of users, the app is literally their ticket into the game, given the Ticketmaster integration we deploy. So, we wanted to reduce the number of times those users had to dismiss the player to get to their tickets while they were going through the entry process. Just in case, we also created a link directly to their ticket wallet via the NFL Live Video Player to help ease that access.
Critical to the success of this project is the measurability of the broadcast. Broadcast partners’ rights deals are incredibly valuable, and they aren’t really interested in letting their feeds be distributed without adding to their ratings. This required analytics implementations with Nielsen and ComScore. Both of which require extensive testing of the team apps, giving the stakeholders confidence in the integrity of their critical business analytics.
These are the types of projects that really get us excited. Not only do they add huge value to both fans and our clients’ during a highly unusual season, they allow for us to flex our development muscles and add to our capabilities and project experience.