Tag Archives: AFL

AFL, Telstra and Apple let users down with bug ridden iPad app

In an effort to make AFL content available to iOS users the league has teamed up with Telstra and hurriedly released updated AFL iPhone and iPad apps for the 2012 season. The iPad version is one of the most bug ridden apps I’ve ever used. The issues are mainly centered around video playback errors and broken design display.




I’m surprised Apple approved such a shabby release. It’s a blessing and a curse that Apple approves all of the App Store apps but one of the benefits is that there is an expected level of quality that comes with an Apple App. The recent AFL iPad release highlights how the league has prioritised speed to market over quality and decent user experience.

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Who wins? The Optus ruling and time shifting content

Optus TVNowAn Australian Federal Court ruling last week means that Optus customers will be able to watch TV (including free to air AFL and NRL) virtually live – on a two-minute delay – a service for which Telstra believed it had bought exclusive rights. Telstra will, no doubt, appeal the decision but given football seasons are about to kick off the consumer will win in season 2012.

The AFL and NRL will complain that the Optus TV Now service will devalue the Telstra rights deal and, in turn, have a negative effect on fans and clubs. The reality is that TV Now allows users to time shift content (remember the VCR?). More people will be exposed to the free to air advertising via TV Now which is a good thing for clubs and the AFL.

Today Gideon Haigh beautifully summarised the outcome on ABC’s Offsiders:

“It demonstrates how in hoc sport has become in television. Sport has borrowed against its future so extensively in the expectation of unending TV riches. The minute that TV sneezes – sport catches a cold. All those pampered players, all those self important suits, all those spoils, all those lifestyles and one judge can make them tremble…just for a moment we should enjoy their discomforture.”

Now I don’t think ‘discomforture’ is even a word but you get the point.

The biggest winner in the ordeal is Optus. The publicity for the virtually unknown service weeks before pre-season competitions begin is priceless.

The freedom for users to digitally record and ‘time shift’ content should never be taken away. Digital rights deals should be done annually so they can stay relevant to the ever advancing technology.

Finally, the AFL should look to the NBA which sells multiplatform ‘League Passes‘ globally around the world. Users can watch every game, from any device, at anytime with DVR controls. If it’s not careful, the AFL will alienate users and lose them to alternative ‘streams’ void of an archaic digital business model.

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A few ways the AFL can improve its Digital Strategy

Ted Richards marks against Nick Riewoldt

Australia’s most popular football code does a lot of things right online. The AFL recently announced on Twitter that it would be running UX workshops for its website. The workshops will hopefully pick up a bunch of usability issues such as cross browser bugs and confusing IA.

In addition to addressing these issues here are four ways the league can improve it’s digital strategy.

1. Stop using Microsoft Silverlight.

It’s basically Microsoft’s version of Adobe Flash and it doesn’t work on iDevices. This means a whole bunch of people can’t watch any of the AFL videos and highlights. The AFL needs to embrace HTML5 and let everyone in on the action.

User Experience needs to be more heavily integrated into the design of AFL digital properties. People should be enjoying AFL content online not thinking twice.

2. Report the bad stuff as well as the good stuff.

Lets face it, when news breaks in the AFL, people don’t go to AFL.com.au. Why? Because the AFL is so worried about it’s image, bad PR and being number 1 that it can’t be transparent, open and honest with the public. The benefit of coming clean, letting its hair down and been more transparent (especially via social media) is that the league can lead stories rather than go around with a pooper scooper.

3. Engage with Fans

Social media offers so many opportunities for players and the clubs to listen, discuss and feedback. This doesn’t just mean posting photos on Facebook. It means actively engaging with the community online.

The AFL needs to utlilise more platforms more efficiently. That could be an incentivised swarm on FourSquare or even just broadcasting the match hashtags on TV. Strategist Hugh Munro suggests coaches should run Google Hangouts with fans. This could be a great way for the AFL to connect with supporters overseas or in remote areas.

DemandMedia are doing some good things with the AFL by running live chats during football events. Eventually these should be tablet friendly and you’ll be able to engage with live games, view alternate angles, ask Paul Roos questions and turn Bruce off.

The AFL needs a mobile strategy not just an App. Smart phone usage is increasing by the quarter and the AFL needs to work out how and why followers are using their mobile to obtain AFL related content. An improved understanding and strategy can be leveraged for mobile advertising and greater exposure.

4. The Footy Record Online needs an upgrade.

One of the league’s greatest assets – the Footy Record – has a terrible existence online. It’s an embarrassment and it needs to be fixed. Where is the iPad app or HTML5 Football Record website?

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