||Establishing a new revenue stream directly with consumers is incredibly encouraging for us. And with Windows Azure we have a proven platform to expand premium services and subscribers.
| Finn Bradshaw
Deputy Network Sports Editor
News Limited – Herald Weekly Times
As one of the first of News Limited’s global companies to test new paywall-based revenue models for premium digital content, the Herald and Weekly Times needed to create a compelling user experience that customers would want to pay for. With Australian Rules
Football (AFL) a multi-million dollar industry nationally, the company decided to focus on building premium subscribers among AFL fans by launching a premium second screen experience.
With fierce competition for audience share and no rights to live match footage, it was vital to provide an exciting and personalised live experience on a wide range of devices with real-time match data as the game unfolds. At kick-off, massive scale would
be required, with as many as 80,000 people simultaneously accessing the site Australia wide.
Working closely with News Limited, Object Consulting, a Microsoft Gold Applications Development Partner and winner of the 2013 Global Cloud Partner for Enterprise Customers award, built SuperFooty Live HQ, a sophisticated web-based application running on
Windows Azure cloud infrastructure. The application delivers rich media content, including video, images and data visualisation, to football fans via web browsers on smartphones, tablets, desktops and TVs. It aggregates data from multiple sources to give premium
subscribers Playview, digital animation showing every ball movement plus real-time SuperCoach scores and game analysis.
To support SuperFooty Live HQ, the company considered cloud platforms offered by Amazon and Microsoft. They chose Windows Azure because of its reliability and scalability plus highly automated management features that help minimise risk and cost.
“At News Limited, we’re very audience focused, and we knew that getting the data to a large audience quickly was key. Object recommended Azure – and Azure works. It’s been incredibly stable, and the ability to easily scale according to peak traffic times
is exactly what we were after,” says Finn Bradshaw, Deputy Network Sports Editor, News Limited – Herald Weekly Times.
A compelling second-screen experience. SuperFooty Live HQ is now a premium destination for football fans, winning the prestigious Melbourne Journalism Quill Award in 2013 for best use of digital. Subscribers can follow play
plus see live SuperCoach scores and analysis, player profiles and match statistics from any device, with Windows Azure providing a highly accessible and responsive platform.
Engaging, personalised content on demand. The Microsoft cloud provides all the power SuperFooty Live HQ needs to support personalisation, interactivity and near real-time data feeds, boosting fan engagement and helping the
Herald Sun increase subscriber numbers significantly in the lead-up to the 2012 AFL season. “SuperFooty recognises you’re a subscriber and your preferences and gives you data relevant to that – there’s nothing else in Australia like this,” says Finn Bradshaw.
New audiences and revenues. Attracting paid subscribers at A$2.75 a week, SuperFooty Live HQ has seen strong traffic with some 160million page impressions across the 2012 season, up 400% from the previous year and paving
the way for new advertising revenues. “We’ve never shut areas off to non-subscribers before and we’re delighted at how many people are willing to pay for quality content,” says Finn Bradshaw. With Windows Azure providing a cost-effective foundation, News Limited
now has a viable model for monetising premium content globally.
Easy handling of traffic spikes. The powerful cloud-based infrastructure enables SuperFooty Live HQ to cater to more than a million unique visitors per round. When the game is on, the application leverages the power of Windows
Azure to scale massively to support 80,000 simultaneous users, with comprehensive failover ensuring high stability and a superb experience whether they’re on the couch, at the ground or out and about.
Cost-effective, flexible infrastructure. Windows Azure provides smart management and automation, as well as durable cloud storage and recovery solutions for data, reducing risk and cost. Automatic scaling keeps costs low
during off-peak times with complete flexibility to scale up quickly before and during AFL matches.