In August, German soccer giants Borussia Dortmund relaunched their in-house over-the-top (OTT) content service, BVB-TV, partnering with sports data and service provider Sportradar.
Combining free content with an exclusive premium offer behind a €1.99 monthly subscription, the platform provides live coverage of the club’s friendly matches, while offering additional content of Dortmund players as the 2018/19 Bundesliga season progresses.
Given Sportradar’s expertise in the sports statistical data industry, the package comes armed with a range of innovative functionalities. Fans are able to watch full match replays, as well as exclusive interviews and other content offerings put together by the club’s digital team.
With the new and improved platform now having been in use for almost two months, SportsPro spoke to Patrick Mostboeck, Sportradar’s project manager of the BVB-TV relaunch, to understand the Swiss-based company’s role in producing the new service and the challenge of appealing to a range of generations through an OTT product.
In essence, what was Sportradar’s role in the relaunch of BVB-TV?
Our role has been to provide the complete chain of technical capabilities. From the video management system, which allows Dortmund to coordinate and navigate the whole system, to content design, to the hosting of the platform, to the content delivery. In this case, pretty much all aspects that are needed from a technical standpoint have come from our end at Sportradar.
What is added from Dortmund is really everything on the actual platform in terms of speaking about the platform. Then, there are also some elements that we provide in terms of the actual content, and especially the content around the game-days. The match highlights are produced by our production team in Vienna.
What was the main reason put forward by Dortmund for wanting to revamp their product?
There were several reasons for relaunching. A problem they had with the existing platform was that they originally launched their service in 2013. Between then and now – in the digital age – five or six years is a long time.
Therefore, simply from a look and feel point of view, as well as from the perspective of how the platform integrates into their systems, they saw the need to take the next step here. With what they had, they already had the opportunity to reach out to the fans, but this now provides them with the chance to achieve the same but with an increased level of functionality.
What were Dortmund looking for Sportradar to add to the existing platform?
They wanted to give the content offering a bit more in terms of dedicated features in order to increase the enjoyment of the fans. Simply, it’s about increasing the number of subscribers to the site, and then once they are there and subscribed, it becomes a case of maximising their viewing time by offering better content.
Dortmund are traditionally very good at creating content, and on the video editing and creating side, they have a team of 15 to 20 people. If you think about a soccer club, that is still a lot. As a result, our job then became to provide a platform which displayed content in a way which is very appealing to the fans and allows the club then also to provide an offering to the sponsors, which is even more appealing.
"It’s about increasing the number of subscribers to the site, and then once they are there and subscribed, it becomes a case of maximising their viewing time"
How challenging is it to promote OTT products across different generations, who have become accustomed to consuming their sport through more traditional means?
I think this is a really good tool to attempt to migrate older generations towards an OTT platform, if only because it allows them get some fresh content from their favourite club. It gives the fans a chance to break the barriers and to enter a new service and a new technology, and then it allows the club the chance to offer such a service to an older target generation of fan, simply due to the fact that the content is interesting to them.
Of course, the distribution channel matters, but not so much to Dortmund. It doesn’t matter whether people are taking their content from an OTT channel or whether through social media or traditional television or whatever else. For Dortmund, what matters is that they are able to reach all the target groups and to reach them through the different content that they offer.
In general, Dortmund – in terms of their content offering – do have a challenge to overcome in the sense that nowadays the content they are providing is across a variety of channels, some of which are designed for younger generations and age groups. There is always that question of what there is available for the older fans.
I think if there is a huge difference in offering something to a 20-year-old and a 60-year-old. Their preferences are different, what they want to consume is different. If you think about a soccer club, there are even fans who don’t even want to know the result of their team’s game until Monday when they’ll watch the replay of the game. Of course, with the platform, we have to comply by that behaviour in terms of the images used, so that those fans can avoid the score.
Some of that advice will come from our side, but we also get some very valuable input from the clients’ side. They might say: ‘We know that your focus is on our tech stuff, but please do also think about our fans’ behaviour and how they consume the content.’ This has to come from the club or the federation at some point, though.
On the field, Dortmund have won two and lost two of their opening four Bundesliga games.
What are the most important aspects of putting together a new OTT platform?
I think functionality is one of the most important aspects nowadays, in order to make sure that people can consume their content easily and quickly. Another key one is that any OTT offering is integrated in your existing digital environment. It makes no sense to launch an OTT channel with a completely new user database, completely separate from what you are already doing. This is so important to really leverage any outcome from what you produce in your OTT space.
Find out more about BVB-TV at the OTT Summit in Madrid, where Benedikt Scholz, Borussia Dortmund's head of international and new business will be speaking.