In 2013, News UK secured a deal with the Barclay’s Premier League that gave the media giant exclusive rights to show clips of all Premier League football matches on its key digital platforms.
The move opened up the opportunity to create a new digital home for football, building greater customer loyalty and exploring new ways to drive revenue. As a result, News UK appointed The App Business to undertake the rapid end-to-end delivery of a brand new sports product known as Sun Goals for Britain’s leading red-top newspaper, The Sun.
With only four short months to deliver the initial release of Sun Goals before the season kickoff, the team at The App Business rapidly set to work reimagining the ultimate sports fan experience on mobile.
A premier sports experience
In a match, every minute counts and experiencing the excitement of the beautiful game - not to mention the ongoing tension and drama of the football season - is of utmost importance to fans. However, not every fan can be in the stands from game to game, or follow the season on the TV, so we created Sun Goals to provide a first screen experience for football fans on-the-go.
This meant delivering the best video-led content, served up on both smartphone and tablet, in an emotionally engaging way to keep fans and advertisers coming back time and again. To bring us closer to the fans’ experience, and understand how mobile could enhance it, we extensively mapped the user experience at both the micro level - on match day - and at macro level, looking across the entire season.
The latest major iteration of Sun Goals for the 2015/2016 season has continued to build on this vision and insight, keeping the fans front and centre with a complete rework of the existing app interface.
This includes a personalised, team-led dashboard, with video, scores and news brought into one screen and displayed in a series of widget-based cards. This makes it easy for fans to follow a favourite team’s updates and a top-level match summary in a single glance. Fans with more time on their hands can tap a particular card to get a more in-depth breakdown.
Personalised push notifications, like those shown immediately below, also provide fans with instant alerts on the latest news and results without needing to unlock a device or open the app. This ensures fans never miss a moment - whether a goal is scored, a red card waved or the final score is in.
Delivering near-live data at scale
Delivering the latest goals, highlights, scores and statistics to fans everyday - not to mention on a busy match days - demands a super fast, highly scalable architecture that can integrate a wide range of sports data.
To address this challenge, our engineers built a highly configurable, scalable Cloud-based content delivery platform from the ground up, incorporating a robust backend logic and a highly efficient mobile API. This backend ‘feed engine’ delivers content at near-live speed, collating raw sports data from a multitude of sources and data providers, optimising it for delivery to mobile.
This highly successful backend infrastructure not only powers Sun Goals, but each of News UK’s mobile products. This creates considerable efficiencies by simplifying data delivery to mobile, and streamlining ongoing support and maintenance for the products.
Building a long-term partnership
Since its initial launch in 2013, The App Business has worked in close partnership with News UK to continuously improve Sun Goals and maintain its performance. The app has grown from covering one league to nine and now incorporates over 40 video feeds - so that no goal goes unseen.
With a lightweight, ongoing support model in place for all of News UK’s mobile products, we capture feedback directly from users on a regular basis to refine the product roadmap. This allows us to consistently fine-tune the app’s performance, and deliver new functionality that ensures Sun Goals continues to provide the ultimate sports experience for football fans - on any screen.
The subsequent success of Sun Goals also laid the foundation for a highly successful mobile programme that is helping News UK radically redefine the delivery of news content in a mobile-led world.
"Embarking on Sun Goals, we had an ambitious vision: to deliver the premier destination for football fans on mobile. Working with The App Business has been essential to really understand and map the fan experience, and the result is a partnership that continues to go from strength to strength."
Head of Digital Product, News UK