Rich Cheary Q&A: Challenging football’s status quo

In a nutshell, describe what PT SportSuite is and who it’s targeted towards.

PT SportSuite is an end-to-end digital suite of products that provides sporting organisations with the tools to become media powerhouses and establish sustainable digital sporting communities that bring the club, players and fans together. Our product suite allows sports organisations to create a content ecosystem in which they can collect, manage and share digital media with their communities like never before.

What inspired the idea to create PT SportSuite?

We’ve always wanted to play a digital role in the sports industry, but wanted to wait until we could provide a compelling, disruptive and unique value proposition. For a number of years I’ve believed that sports organisations and brands could benefit from a change in mindset; by starting to behave and operate more like modern media groups. How? By putting a key focus on digital asset management and immediate accessibility, as well as multichannel distribution, audience profiling, commercialisation of media and bridging the digital divide between print, web, apps and social properties.

Although we’re a software geek, engineer-based business, our passion for sport and extreme lifestyle is a part of our DNA. Myself and CTO Clinton Bosch are competitive by nature – be it summiting peaks, blazing new trails on foot and bike, or gearing up for a digital product event or implementation.

What were you doing before PT SportSuite was born?

For the past decade we’ve been working with traditional publishing and broadcasting groups to  digitally transform their organisations. These experiences influenced the evolution of our product suite, the Publisher’s Toolbox. Our products have been designed in collaboration with our customers and partners, to meet an immediate process or cost efficiency role, and can be implemented independently or as a complete digital suite that ensures a sustainable media and engagement ecosystem.

What does PT SportSuite look like to the end-user? (e.g. an online platform with user dashboard, etc, app?)

PT SportSuite has solutions for internal, secure usage, as well as public community engagement. 

The sports organisation’s internal user base makes use of PT SportSuite’s private mobile media distribution and collaboration platform; digital asset management cloud bulk upload and search facility; digital first CMS and streaming platform; augmented reality campaign manager; and dynamic advertising system.

The general public or fan base then engages with the sports organisation via a community mobile app platform on Android or iOS; augmented reality scan in-app module; FanZone engagement in-app module; as well as a branded video on-demand/live streaming player that enables pre-roll advertising.

How would you say sports organisations are coping with changing demands from fans – are they keeping up?

From our research it seems like sports organisations are doing a great job engaging with their fanbases across the numerous social media platforms. This is great for discoverability and awareness, but not without an immense amount of effort, and at what cost for what return?

I do question the loyalty and attentiveness of social media audiences, what with the stream of content and posts on someone’s feed – the attention span and value is easily diluted. We hope to help attract the loyal and committed fan from these networks into the sports organisation’s own media community platform, where content can be personalised along with better rewards for their engagement. By establishing their own community-based platform, sports organisations can better understand their audience while ensuring a unique fan engagement experience which will ultimately result in increased commercialisation and ROI.

What do sports organisations risk if they don’t keep up?

When I skateboarded as a kid, we used to say “Skate or Die” … the same goes for digital transformation. Without a cohesive, sustainable and measurable media ecosystem that brings efficiencies and flexibility, it’s difficult to increase media IP value and detailed audience profiling for advertising and marketing initiatives. Organisations across industries are looking at ways in which they can digitally transform in preparation for what the future might hold. Sports brands can benefit from identifying new methods of communication and media management that improve customer engagement.

What are fans demanding now from their clubs/teams that they weren’t 10-20 years ago?

We put a lot of value in the uncut, behind-the-scenes footage, that provides fans with more insight around their heroes or insight into the inner workings of the club. Fans are proud and have a sense of ownership for their club’s brand, and have a desire to be heard and acknowledged. With PT SportSuite we feel the new FanZone engagement module and fan media stream satisfies the short-term desire; something we are engaging, researching and planning to evolve with each implementation.

We also find ourselves in the age of loyalty rewarding. The more data profiling and engagement metrics we have digitally coupled with communication and targeting capabilities, the easier it is to accurately reward fans for their engagement.

Does the live, in-stadium/arena experience still hold as much importance to the fan?

Absolutely, but those live match experiences are enhanced by real-time fan influence, be it voting for the player of the match; half-time competitions, fan feeds on big screens or having the digital ability to unlock unique camera streams or product specials that make it easy to order beverages and food in-seat.

Is there a risk of over-saturating fans with content?

Profiling your audience for media targeting is important, especially when your demographic can vary across cultures, age groups and gender. Users of digital platforms also enjoy the opportunity for personalisation, to control and manage the frequency and type of media they receive from the sports organisation’s platforms. The future digital experiences are being defined for a more digital submersion experience, something the younger generation is all too familiar with, and be it 360 degree footage, or VR headset experiences, there will always be a fan pool diving head first into it.

What can customers expect in terms of ROI from PT SportSuite?

ROI can be measured in the short- and long-term. It’s important to rattle the status quo, while ensuring sound principles and standards are in place for sustainability.

Every digital community is built upon a solid foundation and bedrock. Establishing a scalable media ecosystem is what PT SportSuite provides, from which future campaign initiatives and revenue-generating programmes are formed.

As far as immediate ROI is concerned, PT SportSuite allows sports organisations to mitigate risk by storing digital media IP in the cloud; increase digital platform monetisation through dynamic advertising and sponsorship campaigns; and bridge the digital and physical worlds through in-app AR scanning for increased brand awareness and fan engagement.

Establishing a new digital community of loyal fans becomes attractive to sponsors and club partners, resulting in more digital coverage and measurable activities, thus laying the foundation for larger sponsorship deals for clubs that reach fans directly in the lead up to, during and post match days.

This Q&A first appeared in the October 2019 edition of FC Business magazine.

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