A Different Viewing Experience for FIFA World Cup 2018

A Different Viewing Experience for FIFA World Cup 2018

Engaging the Sports Fans
Digital technologies enable us to connect and engage with sports fans to a whole new level. They have opened up new possibilities for emotional connection between fans, players and teams. These advances also allow for information to be obtained in real time, content to be created within short lead times, relationships to be built as well as maintained and opinions to be shared with anyone, anytime and anywhere across various devices.

The Digital revolution has driven monumental changes to the sports industry, which include how sports content is produced, distributed, consumed and monetised. With this in mind, we constantly seek out new ways to provide maximum value to our sports fans.

The Complete Viewing Experience for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Live in Malaysia
As the official broadcaster of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, Astro brings everyone in Malaysia the most comprehensive coverage of one of the greatest sporting event in the world across TV, web and mobile, and the best viewing experience, from live coverage to on-demand and virtual reality.

The World Cup Channel Pass
We launched the World Cup Channel Pass for football fans in Malaysia with the aim to deliver the best value and convenience to our customers and all Malaysians to enable them to follow their favourite teams in action in the FIFA World Cup. The pass offered all 64 LIVE matches on all screens (TV, web and mobile) from June 14 to July 15 via 2 High Definition and 2 Standard Definition TV channels, and on our video streaming services (AstroGo and NJOI Now).

Additionally, the World Cup Channel Pass also allows our customers to get access to exclusive content on our Stadium Astro web & mobile app, and Stadium Astro VR app.

To further cater for different viewing preferences, besides signing up for the all-you-can-eat World Cup Channel Pass, the customer can sign up to watch a single match, all matches of a selected group or the knockout stage (all matches in round 16, quarter finals, semi finals, 3rd placing and Final).

Our Astro Arena 24/7 sports channel also showed 22 LIVE matches for FREE to all Malaysians.

Enabling the Digital Viewing Experience
To ensure that we keep football fans delighted with our 2018 FIFA World Cup coverage, we constantly re-adapt to the viewing habits and behaviours of our customers.

For sports fans who are always on the go, they are able to enjoy the 2018 World Cup live streams and replay matches on two dedicated channels via our video streaming services (AstroGo and NJOI Now) which are available on the web, mobile apps and smart TV.

We understand that there are people who are excited about the World Cup but may not have the time to watch all the matches, or to be able to sit through an entire match. To cater for these needs we have also made available match highlights, real-time scores and match statistics, as well as game replays from multiple camera angles through Stadium Astro app. The app also allows users to easily share video highlights and scores with their friends on the social media platform.

Transforming the Sports Viewing Experience with Virtual Reality (VR)
VR technology is blurring the boundaries between the digital and physical worlds. For this World Cup we decided to try out VR to bring football fans closer to the action. The Stadium Astro VR app enables us to place football fans in the centre of the action where they will enjoy an immersive experience as though they`re attending the game in the stadium itself, whilst sitting in the comfort of their own home.

The Stadium Astro VR 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia app allows sports fans to watch the World Cup matches live from a VIP Suite through a super wide-angle feed with 37 camera angles and modes to choose from, including Super Slow Motion, aerial coverage and a cable camera system. The user can enjoy this experience through a VR headset or directly through their smart phone.

Delivering the Best Quality of Experience and Service
To make the World Cup accessible to everyone seamlessly, we had to re-architect some of our backend technology services.

The user sign up journey and content purchase flow were enhanced to ensure that we make it as easy as possible for a user to consume our content through all channels. Our users are able to purchase the World Cup Channel Pass and its ala-carte variants through our web portal, set top box or streaming apps, and have the viewing entitlement enabled across all devices seamlessly.

There were number of other tweaks we had to do in the backend video streaming platform to ensure we are ready for the biggest sporting event in the world:

  • The video service is delivered to devices in multiple video resolutions (using adaptive bitrate technology) to ensure that the user gets the best possible viewing experience while on-the-go, based on network performance across mobile and fixed network
  • The backend platfom residing in the cloud has been expanded to ensure that we can cope with any sudden surge in users accessing the service
  • The single-sign-on (user registration and authentication) service has been fine-tuned to make it easier for both existing customers and new customers to sign up and enjoy our service
  • Tailored our real time dashboards to allow us to monitor our service and pro-actively address any issues, minimising impact to the viewing experience

We are happy to see that the system has been performing well to support record numbers of concurrent viewings over the last 3 weeks of FIFA WorldCup (except one unexpected downtime we encountered last week).

We are fine tuning the system further to ensure we continue to deliver uninterrupted viewing experience with the higher viewing traffic expected in the coming semi finals and Finals.