Reinventing Soccer On TV

  The newest entry for viewers to watch soccer games - Dream Football International Federation Network (DFN) - is right around the corner from launching. It combines the innovation of today's Silicon Valley startups with everywhere-accessiblity.

(I was offered a look at the inner workings of DFN, and given permission to talk about my findings publicly as long as I didn't divulge specifics. More about these specifics below.) With the impending implosion of Fox Soccer TV - a spectacular face-plant given their nearly-two decades of football coverage - it was only a matter of time before a new network emerged to grab the attention of football-starving fans.

DFN is keeping most aspects of the programming internal, controlling the entire user experience. Time will tell whether that's good or bad but by bringing all the key pieces within the group, it should be a much simpler process in building its distribution, programming, advertising, support, and feedback mechanisms.

 

DISTRIBUTION

DFN is leveraging current distribution options along with testing new models

When pressed a bit further, the current distribution model doesn't work for users and short-changes advertisers and sponsors. To meet somewhere in the middle, DFN is looking to build on the model Aereo has created in New York City - to leverage the distribution provided currently by cable and satellite providers.

The "new models" piece was one of those specifics noted above. While I can't go into specifics, I can say they are new and they are interesting.

For instance, you can catch your team's game on cable television and if you're not a cable subscriber, there's an option to subscribe to a monthly / season package to watch on your mobile device.

Since mobile access is built around the web, there's no need to download a separate application for your specific mobile device. Simply access the mobile website and log in with your DFN credentials. Once logged in, the web app provides a simple navigation:

 

DFN Mobile Site

DFN - Wireframe Mobile App

 

The goal is to bring the viewer closer to the action and build brand loyalty by acting as their football source, no matter their location.

 

PROGRAMMING

Off-time matches from off-prime leagues along with original programming

This was the part of the discussion that was mostly left "in the dark". However, there were a few pieces that seemed clear:

  • There would be no high-salary announcers, commentators, or studio shows
  • There will be shows that are produced by DFN
  • Payment will be handled through an agreement / partnership with a Stripe-like service

Not a lot of details but the goal seems to keep the pricing low.

Monthly subscription pricing for users would be focused less on channels but rather on storage use for DVR-like capabilities. A base rate would be available for a basic number of hours available for recording. Additional storage will be available at an additional cost.

Specific pricing was not disclosed. Without the need for announcer salaries and because the target audience is expected global (ie, there are no geographic breakdowns), the basic subscription rate is expected to be in the single digits.

 

ADVERTISING

It's something that needs changing and we hope a more direct and responsive model will bring the needed change

DFN is building an advertising system similar to Google AdWords to better match advertisements with users, and to maximize advertising spend for sponsors. The idea is to create a competitive and fair advertising strategy for sponsors during key matches throughout the year, instead of locking out sponsors through multi-year contracts.

By creating this type of system, the viewer is provided with offers dependent on their location and their interests, and sponsors are able to more finely-tune their budgets based on current / real-time conditions.

 

SUPPORT

Transparency decreases costs in the long-term

DFN will partner with a service such as ZenDesk or ServiceNow for users to submit their support requests, and to follow their progress through the support process.

 

FEEDBACK

Building relationships is the key to our success

Reaching out to viewers using today's social and communication tools seems to be a priority. While these tools will likely be integrated into different programming options, no details were released.

 

SUMMARY

Sadly, the DFN is just that - a dream network. But I believe these options aren't too far away.

And I believe they will be provided by Al Jazeera:

“There’s a major hole right now that Al Jazeera can fill. And that is providing an alternative viewpoint to domestic news, which is very parochial,” said Cathy Rasenberger, a cable consultant who has worked with Al Jazeera on distribution issues in the past. However, she warned, “there is a limited amount of interest in international news in the United States.”

( Source: NYTimes.com | Al Jazeera Said to Be Acquiring Current TV )

It's a wild assumption but the current models don't seem to be working (see here or here or here), and it seems like a non-incumbant will break the mold (Apple and Netflix have chipped away at it).

If you told me two years ago that Fox Soccer would not be around in 2014 and the 2022 World Cup would be held in Qatar, I'm not sure I'd believe you.

But the walls are breaking down much faster than we think, driven by a culture of innovation and the opportunity to build businesses that customers actually want.

Fellow football viewers, get ready - soccer on TV is about to be reinvented.