The Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling events broadcast by Sportsnet during the month of April included a new interactive feature designed to engage fans and test their knowledge of curling. This new gamification element was successfully delivered to international audiences by the Visaic platform. Curling fans around the world enjoyed access to over 70 hours of live and on demand curling action with an added surprise, the GSOC ROCKS interactive game for fans.
Why it matters: After 14 months of inactivity, there was a level of uncertainty regarding fan interest – how would fans react to play resuming during the middle of a season? Additionally, with no fans in the venue the event was venturing into new territory. Could there be a new way to present remote fans with opportunities to engage and interact with both the game and other viewers?
The GSOC OTT platform not only delivered the live action but presented something new for fans to enjoy: an interactive game which asked curling trivia questions and displayed the results real-time for viewers.
Curling is the most popular Olympic sport of the last decade. Over the last four Olympics, the sport has seen the biggest spike in Google searches, just surpassing figure skating .
As the largest international curling series, the Grand Slam of Curling has extensive reach in Canada. Each event typically reaches 2 million+ viewers across Sportsnet’s national TV platforms 2.
Since 2017 the GSOC International Service has steadily expanded its viewership to include over 80 countries.
Throughout the recent Humpty’s Champions Cup and Princess Auto Players’ Championship events over 10,000 fans generated approximately 45,000 sessions. The majority of sessions originated in the U.S., Japan, U.K., Switzerland and Sweden.
Details: Phase 1 of the GSOC ROCKS project was piloted solely on desktop computers. The decision to launch only on desktop came about in response to concerns that the game would be too much of a distraction on smaller screen devices (such as phones) and be difficult to play on certain connected devices (like Smart TVs.)
On desktop it proved to be a great interactive feature that was made available as an overlay on the live video player. It enabled fans to:
make predictions about the outcome of certain events
play curling trivia
see how their responses compared with other fans
The Visaic team prepared and assembled questions and polls that were curated and pushed periodically to fans during the games. Fans were given the opportunity to either opt in or out of the game.
Deployment of the GSOC ROCKS feature involved an overlay using a JW Player API which made queries to the backend. The question-and-answer features were built as a microservice hosted using Microsoft’s Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). This modular microservice architecture allowed the fan engagement tool to seamlessly scale as the number of users exponentially increased (while remaining completely decentralized.)
Approximately 25% of all subscribers participated in the GSOC ROCKS gaming experience. This number is even more impressive when considering the game was not made available on mobile – which comprised about 50% of all site traffic. The ease of interaction with the GSOC ROCKS game contributed to the strong response during the phase 1 rollout.