Southamption FC launches pre-match fan show on Facebook and Periscope

For football clubs, a smart digital strategy can be almost as important as a strong team sheet. Fan engagement can make or break brand value, so football teams around Europe are exploring new ways to connect with fans.

With the proliferation of OTT and advances in mobile technology it has become more challenging over the years, as clubs need to reach fans across new technologies, viewing platforms and social channels. Southampton FC is recognised as a team with one of the most progressive digital strategies in the English Premier League – from its website to interactive live streams, which earned the club a BT Sport 2017 Cutting Edge Sports Award nomination.

Ahead of its recent match against Manchester United, Southampton launched a pre-match show for fans on Facebook and Periscope. To streamline production, Southampton turned to Grabyo’s cloud-based video production, editing and distribution platform. A staple in Southampton’s social streaming workflow for nearly two years, Grabyo fuses recorded and archived content with interactive fan comments and Q&As for a number of Grabyo’s social streams, making it a natural match for the debut.

The workflow included three cameras that captured live footage from various vantage points including the pitch, entry tunnel and locker room and fed into Grabyo’s cloud-based interface. Tapping into Grabyo’s ability to interlace anything rendered as a URL with live video, Southampton’s media team populated the live feed with graphics created by Reality Check Systems (RCS) that were rendered out of the Singular.Live graphics production platform.

A focal point of the show was the starting lineup reveal. As part of the league’s charter, clubs cannot announce player names and positions until one hour before the game on match day, and are only given 15 minutes to prepare the information for live distribution.

Creating and changing high quality graphics for the player names and positions in that short timeline proved difficult in the past, until Grabyo partnered with Singular. “Integrating Singular with Grabyo allowed Southampton to bring live broadcast-quality titling to fans, which is a challenge for most clubs with existing tech setups,” says Grabyo Head of Marketing Aaron Duckmanton. “The quality at which the graphics were rendered out of Singular is also impressive, not to mention it’s fast and easy to use.”

Before the show’s debut, Reality Check Systems (RCS) created a series of templates in Singular, including: an animated ticker with a placeholder for each player’s name, image, number and position; a full screen CG pitch view graphic with a placeholder for player names and formations; and a full screen squad list.

Using these graphics Southampton’s production team populated the graphics as the presenter read off the starting line-up. “Taking social video to the next level is a huge focus for us. We want our clients to be able to create bespoke and engaging pieces of content, and Singular can help drive this, making it easy to render high-end graphics in the cloud,” Duckmanton explained.

Typically in pre, post or live match social streaming, clubs will use static PNG or existing broadcast graphics, but the visuals are not optimised for mobile viewing. Grabyo and Singular combined translate the total broadcast viewing experience for mobile and social.

“Creating a different viewing experience for social is becoming increasingly more important and fans are demanding new ways to consume content. Grabyo and Singular built a live experience that was dynamic, premium quality and built for a mobile, social audience,” said Duckmanton.

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