The World Cup 2014 finished roughly a week ago and we can see how people are feeling the withdrawal syndrome of having no national football team - or soccer ;) - to watch on a daily basis!
Here at Streema, we have many football fans that were very enthusiastic about the World Cup. Also, since this was a huge global event that was going to be broadcasted on radio as well as television, many of us thought it would be a good opportunity to experiment with a live event - the following were the challenges, surprises and results.
The goal was to research how many people we could reach if we designed and implemented custom pages for each Match for an event such as the World Cup. To do so, we developed new assets to make sure people were able to watch and listen to the games as well as notifications on our site to make sure people were aware of the games, specially when they were live.
We focused a lot of our energy on the Match Page, which contained the main TV and radio stations that were broadcasting each match. In order to stimulate some discussion - or banter between opposing team fans ;) - we also added the possibility to interact with other users with a Facebook comment box.
Additionally, we developed a Notification Bar that appeared 1 hour before each match, and stayed open during the 2 hours informing the game that was being played.
As for general communication, we wrote 10 blog posts (including this one) that were posted through Hootsuite, which means it was replicated in our Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Linkedin accounts.
As this was the first live event we’ve worked on, we divided the work in 3 stages: from June 12-15 for the first 11 matches, from June 16-22 for the next 21 matches, and from June 23-July 13 for the remaining 32. In each stage we made a revision and introduced some minor changes.
Here were some of the questions we had at the beginning:
- How many people can we reach?
- How could it affect our monetization?
- Would our tech infrastructure be ready?
- How many TV and/or Radio stations will we find for each match?
- How many bugs, updates and additional work will this represent?
We made sure to check all of the questions in each stage - if the results we’re good, we would decide to discontinue the experiment. Fortunately enought though, this wasn’t the case. :)
The first challenge was finding the TV and radio stations that would broadcast each the first 32 matches of the Cup (or in other words, the two first stages of our plan). This was a whole lot of work since we never did this before and since most of the stations did not have a timetable with all their programming, so it was really difficult to know which station would broadcast each match. Actually, this would be one of the main reasons people refer to Streema to find particular live show and it is a yet unresolved problem on the web.
Another challenge was that many stations were not prepared to handle such traffic spikes, so in many cases, when a station reached a certain threshold in number of viewers, it would stop working for any new users and we’d have to scramble looking for alternative channels.
And the final challenge, the toughest one, was that most of the stations had a license to broadcast in a particular country, so more often than not, when people from outside the country tried to tune in those people wouldn’t be able to listen to or watch anything. :/
For the kickoff match of the cup, between Brazil and Croatia, we had to add new webservers because we clearly couldn’t handle the traffic with our current setup. In particular, we made a deploy in the middle of the match and the servers were not able to handle the load while it got redistributed.
Another surprise was that the social interactions in a live event tend to be more frequent and intense than during a regular broadcast. Even though we didn't put the comment box front and center (it was actually below the fold) we found more usage of that feature than is usually seen on our site. We found this to be very interesting and in line with our origins as a social network for radio listeners.
And finally, the sheer amount of work and attention to detail required to cover a live event with all the right content and timing. This was a first for us, so we take many learnings from this experience!
Roughly a quarter million people watched and listened to the 64 Matches over the 25 days of the World Cup through our Match Pages, while an equal amount watched through the actual radio and TV profile pages.
Also, which would you think was the most viewed/listen to match of the World Cup through Streema? You would have never guessed that it was: Germany vs Portugal in the Group Phase; then the opening game, Brazil vs Croatia; and in the third place of our rankings, the Final between Germany vs Argentina .
On the social media front, the Infographic we developed for the Group Phase called “The Best (and Worst) Predictions of the World Cup’s Group Phase” became our most popular post to date. We hope the same happens with our last one: “The Best (and Worst) Predictions of the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil [Infographic]”. :)
To wrap up, we can truthfully say it was an exciting experience to finally work on a live event and we’re glad it was useful to so many of our users!
The Streema Team