Streaming Forum 2014 Keynote: BT Sport Sprints to the Finish Line

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A true disrupter in the online video space, BT Sport launched in a hurry and has managed to attract millions of viewers in less than a year. Explaining how his company pulled off such an accomplishment, Jérôme Tassel, the TV architecture and security director for BT, delivered the first day keynote address at the Streaming Forum 2014 conference now underway in London.

BT Sport launched on August 1, 2013, and is now available on nine platforms. The service has 3 million direct customers, or 5 million including those who get the service from wholesale deals with services including Sky and Virgin.

June 13, 2012 was a big day for BT Sport: That’s the day that it won the rights (for £3 billion) to broadcast live Premier League games, and then needed to build a service from scratch. Essentially overnight it needed a production studio and systems for encoding, CDN delivery, set-top box support, performance monitoring, and backend support. BT Sport didn’t have the option to start small and grow, Tassel said; it needed to handle large numbers of viewers from day one. On August 1, 2013, the service launched on nine platforms, including Sky, Virgin, BT TV, YouView, FreeView, and three apps.

Part of that startup included construction of iCity, BT Sport’s production center. Tassel showed a time-lapse video of the construction of the center, which includes 20 editing bays and an electronic floor that changes to match the sport being reported. Construction started on February 5, 2013, and the center was ready for production by July 1.

“We’re always thinking to get new content,” Tassel said, explaining that BT Sport hasn’t slowed its pace since launch. It recently announced that it acquired the rights to the World Rally Championship, MotoGP, German Bundesliga (extended to 2017), and Champion League football. It also began offering Chromecast support and buy-to-keep movies.

Looking ahead, Tassel said the service will stay free for BT Broadband customers through the 2014/2015 season, and viewers will be able to enjoy the European Rugby championships, thanks to a new content deal.

Watch the keynote address here:

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