Content is everything: DAZN’s Rimpal Shah on juggling projects, practices, technology and workflows to keep the OTT dream alive
Content operations manager at DAZN, Rimpal Shah, says on how she found a career in sports broadcasting that, “I wasn’t really looking for it, rather it found me!”
She goes on: “I’ve always enjoyed being creative and have a keen interest in sports, so when the opportunity to get into media and sports after I finished my degree presented itself, I felt it was a great steppingstone in launching my career in broadcast.”
Shah has a degree in media technology (BSC Hons). Once she graduated, she says it was a challenge to find the right role in media. “Eventually I came across an advert for a live sports editor at a new company, Premium TV, and felt a click,” she explains. “The job was logging horse races and although it was not where I saw my career heading, it got me into a media company and kick started my career.
“Live sport is a fast-paced environment; you must think fast and make quick, decisive decisions that have almost immediate effect to the customer, leaving you with little to no room for error”
“The job consisted of entering data points for when the horse racing would start and finish. Between each race there would be a 30 minute gap, and during this time I would watch and learn from the other editors in the room who would be editing cricket, tennis, football, and various other programmes.
“I quickly learned to edit and found my next career step as an editor at Perform; being more hands on and editing content for cartoon network, adult swim, and Channel 4 racing,” Shah continues. “I eventually mastered my art and started editing more premium sports highlight packages for Premier League football, basketball for FIBA and tennis events for ATP and WTA.”
Kickstarting the career with a change
After getting her feet safely through the door and into the room, Shah felt a change was needed to really kickstart her career. She says: “In 2010, I decided it was time to make a change. I left the world of editing and entered post production and content management. My manager at the time would often say that “I’ve found my niche” as it felt second nature to me. I managed most parts of the content lifecycle, from booking editors and facilities to ensuring the content is delivered on time, to the websites and directly ensuing the clients were satisfied with the service.
“Although I enjoyed working with the editors and managing post production, I found content management to be natural next step. I absolutely loved the interaction with the clients and systems,” she states.
In 2017, Shah stepped into the world of content operations for DAZN. She says: “During my career I had become the knowledge centre for video on demand (VoD) distribution and client integration, as well as editorial processes and metadata for content management. As a content operations manager, I get to work closely with the architects and development teams to shape the tools and the workflows we use across the company.
“The hardest thing about my role is juggling multiple projects and being able to link and decipher the impact of each project on the current operational practices and workflows. Working with the development teams and architects we look for the best tech approach as well as what makes operational senses and drives efficiencies for the business. Although this is the most challenging part of my role, it is also the most rewarding. My job is challenging, but this is why I enjoy it so much; it keeps me on my toes and allows me to push and reach for the best possible outcome.”
Enjoying and embracing challenges
There has been a significant period during her time at DAZN when Shah excelled, while also enjoying and embracing challenges she faced. She explains: “One of the toughest, but also the most rewarding stages in my career, was offshoring my team and creating a brand new content management team out in India.
“I was young and never had been in a position where I had to let people go. I had a brilliant HR team, which helped and guided me through the process. Although there was a lot of change, I did my best to help those affected find other roles and enhance their skill to enable them to find their next role.
“During this time I was hiring, creating, and building my team out in India whilst ensuring day to day operations was not being affected,” continues Shah. “I was managing 30-plus clients whilst getting my new team up to speed. The team eventually grew to a headcount of 50, consisting of four teams handling distinct processes and clients.”
She adds: “A year later, DAZN OTT launched, which my team were and remain the centre of on time content delivery to the platform.”
Shah also notes on the technology which fuels the way DAZN works: “Production processes and technology have evolved massively over the last few years, harnessing the power of the cloud to move towards a virtual, remote, and automated production environment. At DAZN we have also adopted these changes and have virtualised our production environment and automated some of our highlight creation, which has provided us with flexibility and rapid scalability for production teams.”
The coolest thing she has worked on in the course of her career so far was, “being an integral part of Perform Group’s first event broadcast live to YouTube”.
She goes on: “It was the first time I had content managed a live event onto the live streaming platform. After this event, I took on many live streaming events for International Paralympic Committee, Boodles Tennis, FIBA Basketball and Goal.com soccer.”
Quick decisive decisions
Shah’s day-to-day work is challenging, yet the people in her team make it work on all counts: “Live sport is a fast-paced environment; you must think fast and make quick, decisive decisions that have almost immediate effect to the customer, leaving you with little to no room for error.
“Depending on the sport being covered, the working day can be long and tiring, which can make it difficult to achieve a positive work life balance. But with a strong team, it can be achieved.”
On why she continues to work in live sports broadcasting, Shah says: “I have been in live sport for 14 years and although it wasn’t where I though my career would end up, the thing I enjoy the most about it is that its fast pace; it’s challenging, no day is the same and keeps pushing you to achieve more.”
Over the last two years Shah’s role has continued to evolve. She explains: “When I initial took the role as a content operations manager, it looked at our operational workflows architecturally to find and implement efficiencies. Over the last two years my role has grown organically into becoming the operational bridge between technology and operations, ensuring the tools, product enhancements and platform changes DAZN is delivering provide the best operational working practices and efficiencies.
“In terms of 2022 and my career, DAZN remains constantly evolving and I’m sure it will be equally exciting and full of challenges.”
Shah’s top tips for women looking to move into a role in sports broadcasting like her own is all about being bold and getting out there. She concludes: “The culture around sports broadcasting is evolving and there is a fantastic network of women in media to support you.
“If you take one thought away from this, it is, you must be confident, think big, believe in your own abilities, don’t be afraid to question, and put your ideas out there!”