From a business perspective, sports rights are a powerful moneymaking tool, a principle we know well at MTV Oy in Finland (not to be confused with MTV, the music network). We have exclusive rights here to broadcast the matches of the national ice hockey team, which we air on our largest channel—MTV3—and also on our pay-TV channels.
In an effort to maximize our rights—and to drive viewers to MTV3’s online TV portal, Katsomo—we decided to build an online, interactive TV service focused exclusively on ice hockey.
Rather than simply transfer the television experience to the web, we wanted to create a completely new interactive Internet player that would give viewers features they just couldn’t get from traditional TV. By subscribing to the ice hockey package, viewers are able to access a portal via Katsomo throughout the season that allows them to watch live or on-demand matches online, switch camera angles, chat with other viewers, publish comments to Facebook, and review team statistics, match lineups and other data, among other actions.
The challenge was to create the feature-rich, hockey-specific portal in just a couple of months. We started the process in February 2012 and aimed to launch the service in time for the 2012 Men’s World Ice Hockey Championships, which started in May. To make it happen, we turned to our partner, Vimond Media Solutions.
We already relied on the Vimond Platform for online video to drive the Katsomo portal, and because of that, we were already using Vimond’s APIs to build our services. That gave us a foundation for the new ice hockey center; however, building a service with APIs usually takes more time than we had available.
Thankfully, Vimond offers a sports-specific Vimond Player framework and open SDKs that enable programmers to create rich experiences for sports fans in just weeks instead of months. A library of features is already implemented on Vimond APIs, so instead of having to build the site from scratch and figure out how to configure all of the features we wanted, we were able to quickly and easily build the portal exactly the way we envisioned it. And as the whole service is based on a sports-specific development framework, MTV3 programmers have a way to produce services more quickly than ever before, making it quick and easy to expand the portal as needs change and viewing habits evolve.
Now MTV3 has a web service with rich interactivity and social dimension unlike any in the region, driven by technology that is as innovative as we are. Not only that, but it has allowed us to accomplish what we set out to do: maximize our broadcasting rights by creating a new revenue stream. (The portal garnered more than 20,000 subscriptions during the first season.) For that and so many other reasons, the MTV3 live ice hockey center has lived up to our bold vision.
Teemu Lehtonen is in charge of web TV at MTV Media Finland. He began his career at MTV Media in 1995, when mtv.fi was launched. He’s based in Helsinki and may be contacted at teemu.Lehtonen@mtv3.fi. For additional information, visit Vimond atwww.vimond.com.