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Case Study: How Sportradar delivered the OTT launch of K League TV

Sportradar has supported the launch of the Korea Professional Football League’s new over-the-top platform, K League TV, providing free live and on-demand coverage of all matches from the K League 1 and K League 2 divisions, as well as behind-the-scenes content, highlights and interviews.

(Jaewon Lee/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Dylan Chuan, Sales Director, Audiovisual, Sportradar, and Doojin Sa, Head of Broadcasting, Content and Distribution, K League, explain how the project was delivered at the start of 2021, and outline the future development of the groundbreaking platform.

Background

Dylan Chuan: “We signed a multi-year partnership with the K League in 2019 with the aim of expanding their international reach, and K League TV is one step in this long-term, multi-pronged approach. Understanding their goals is key, but so is having an extensive global network, experience in helping rights-holders reach a broader market, and regional experience.

“In spite of the pandemic, 2020 was a very rewarding first season with the K League, given the huge interest from global broadcasters. The broadcast footprint alone through terrestrial and online platforms grew 10 times  from the 2019 season.

“Moving into the second season of our partnership, we began to discuss a global OTT platform for K League fans and Koreans worldwide to watch all K League 1 and K League 2 matches live, as well as video on demand, highlights, clips, interviews and other content. It didn’t take long to conclude that this platform needed to be ready for the 2021 season.”

Objectives

Doojin Sa: “A primary goal was to take K League content to countries where there are no rights agreements in place, but there is high sports consumption. For the first stage of the rollout this season K League TV is free to access in territories not covered by media-rights deals.

“We are working with Sportradar to provide our content and services in a variety of languages. At the moment we are focused on English, with plans to expand that offering. All match feeds are available on the platform with two matches per round available with English commentary.

“For now, we only have video content, but the goal is to make K League TV an international communications hub and expand to offer diverse content, such as articles in English. There is also the opportunity to produce unique content for the platform covering, for example, international players who ply their trade in the K League, providing relevance to fans from different countries.

“Sportradar is responsible for technical parts of developing and running K League TV, while the K League is in charge of all administrative and operational activities.”

Suwon Samsung Bluewings’ Yeom Ki-hun (R) fights for the ball with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors’ Lee Yong (L) during the opening game of South Korea’s K-League football match at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Jeonju on May 8, 2020. – The towering stands of the 42,477-capacity Jeonju World Cup Stadium stood empty on May 8 as South Korea opened football’s post-coronavirus era without fans, but with an unprecedented international TV audience. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP) (Photo by JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images)

Delivery

Doojin Sa: “Once the commercial and administrative processes were outlined, we worked with Sportradar to bring K League TV to fruition. We had several learning sessions from Sportradar to prepare us for operating an OTT platform, and we carried out testing before the official launch as the focus was on making sure the streaming and archived videos on demand could run in good quality without errors. Sportradar supported us day and night, so we were able to launch the OTT service without any major issues.”

Dylan Chuan: “It took us roughly two months to plan, formulate the backbone and execute the implementation of the OTT platform. However, we are still in the early phase of implementation as there are further plans to scale up and develop the platform to provide even more content, adding more marketing and features to it.

“From the operational side we had a clear goal to launch the platform before the new season at the end of February. To fulfil this goal, we had a kick-off workshop with the K League and a dedicated team was assigned to work on the development of K League TV.

“The team included the account and customer experience manager to organise the processes, workflows and day-to-day operations, and to be a point of contact on OTT-related platform development and maintenance topics for the K League, as well as a project delivery manager and development team – including a designer and engineer – to be responsible for the technical aspects.

“The K League’s team also played a big role in the development of the platform and we had ongoing communications regarding different product parts related to streaming, designs, the registration process, data compliance and more.

“There is a Sportradar support team available to the K League on a 24-seven basis for any technical or streaming-related questions. Our OTT customer experience team is also in touch with the K League, not only to provide product updates and training sessions for our OTT technology, but also to look after the platform’s performance and offer consultation about how we can improve the user experience on K League TV.”

Outcome

Doojin Sa: “K League TV gives the league its own platform to broadcast widely and enhance our brand, giving us a good foundation to develop our OTT offering in the future. We are planning to source more exclusive content for K League TV, enabling greater interactivity with fans.

“League-wide, we believe K League TV could be a major turning point, not only for K League’s business plan, but for the domestic sports OTT business. We are looking forward to K League TV attracting more K League fans and activating more overseas people so that they are familiar with football in Korea and will interact via the platform.

“By providing not just audiovisual content, but data and articles about the K League and players, there is the hope that this platform will provide an opportunity to attract more international players so that the league itself can enhance its reputation and ultimately become an ‘international league’.”

Dylan Chuan: “The platform has been warmly welcomed, especially by Korean fans living abroad. Users in some countries like the US, Canada and Japan – where many Korean people live – previously had difficulty watching the K League in a convenient way.

“Besides managing and running the set-up and delivery of the OTT platform, Sportradar also continues to support, advise and provide ideas in areas like content creation, marketing, communications, branding and basically what it takes to bring the K League’s brand to the next level and provide the ultimate fan experience.

“We certainly have the technical and commercial experience to support leagues and rights-holders to develop their own OTT platforms, and this is something we want to continue to do, especially in Asia where the demand and potential is great.”

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