Organisations across the landscape of sport recognise the value of developing an engaging digital presence, yet the time and investment required to design and launch new platforms has often left them playing catch-up with a fanbase whose consumption habits are constantly evolving.
Spotting a gap in the marketplace, digital specialist OMNIGON set to work on creating Corebine, a new content management and fan engagement platform specifically tailored to the demands of sport’s increasingly mobile-first audience.
Launched this month, Corebine is designed to streamline and reduce the cost of building and releasing new digital platforms, says Nick Arcuri, the vice president of products at OMNIGON. It is already being utilised by a handful of OMNIGON clients including CONCACAF, the governing body for soccer in North and Central America which is using the product to power its Gold Cup and Scotiabank CONCACAF League websites.
Now, as Arcuri explains, the aim is to extend Corebine - which is fully customisable and compatible with OMNIGON’s existing suite of fan engagement and sponsor activation tools - to teams and leagues across all sports.
SportsPro: What kind of research and development has gone into the creation of Corebine?
Arcuri: We’ve actually been working on it with real resources and manpower for about 18 months to two years, but really the product itself has been in the making and in our thoughts for probably eight years. Having worked on sports properties and sports projects, doing a lot of the same work for a lot of different clients, we got serious about this from a productisation perspective when we saw a gap in the marketplace, especially around mobile and especially around sports.
We were seeing a lot of big content management systems and big content delivery platforms that were built a long, long time ago - ten, 15 years ago - that were not ready for mobile and were built for everybody and every type of industry as opposed to the specific needs from a digital sports perspective. When that gap became very pronounced, that’s when we made the decision to go with the product and Corebine was what was created.
What are some of the key benefits of Corebine and how does it differ from other CMS products on the market?
It’s mobile-first. The other CMS platforms that are out there all need to be retrofitted for mobile, and every new device, every new type of platform that comes out, needs to be redeveloped from scratch, which is very costly from both a development and time perspective.
That makes reacting to new platforms more difficult, so we built a mobile-first experience. What we did was we decoupled the content from how it’s rendered, so we can create the same amount of content and basically render it for a brand new platform or device very easily.
The other things that we think are differentiating around this product are the fan engagement platforms that we have built in. It’s not enough to just deliver content in a really nice way, with a nice design. We have award-winning design but a lot of people have that as well.
We want to make sure fans and audiences are engaged when they’re interacting with our platforms, so we have lots of different ways to engage fans - from a voting perspective, voting on the best player or voting on content itself, which are very sponsorable.
Monetisation is another key factor - being able to sponsor and monetise digital aside from just normal display ads and things like that. We wanted to make sure that some of the things that we were putting forth had sponsorship and engagement at the forefront of the requirements of what we’ve built.
Corbine can incorporate real-time voting features, helping to drive fan engagement during live events.
To what extent is Corebine flexible enough to meet the needs of fans and organisations across different sports?
The products that we have that are incorporated with it are flexible enough and can be customised per sport and per the marketplace to reach that particular audience. They’re not football-only products that won’t work for a basketball or hockey client. They’re more generic and flexible in that way. Using a lot of engagement around content, as opposed to around statistics or other things that are very sport-specific, helps with that flexibility.
What’s interest within the industry been like since you launched the product?
We launched with a few clients, CONCACAF included, prior to announcing it publicly. The success of the launch of the Gold Cup and the CONCACAF League sites has really sparked a lot of conversations with football clubs and a lot of other sports and leagues and federations out there.
CONCACAF have talked about how the Corebine platform has empowered them both to sell sponsorships, without the involvement of a development team or agency, and to be flexible in launching a brand new league website in under three weeks. All of these things have really opened peoples’ eyes across the board and we’ve gotten really great feedback around that.
It’s a future-proofed product from a device and platform perspective, but it also has value beyond launch.
What types of organisations are you targeting?
When we came up with this idea it was to reach all sorts of different levels and budgets and timelines that particular sports or federations or teams might have. In the past, with our professional service business, a lot of the custom work is a little more costly and may have made us a little too expensive for a mid-table club or a second-tier league or sport that might not have millions of dollars coming in from broadcast revenue.
The way we’ve combatted that is really making an efficient platform that can be reused and customised very easily across different sports and across different brands. It really brings the value proposition into a place where mid-table clubs or second-tier sports can afford this and have a great digital presence, both on web and apps, without having to break the bank.
The strategy is really to be as broad as possible and work with a large array of different types of clubs and federations. We can go anywhere from a CONCACAF, who do have a good amount of budget to spend and they’re launching four sites with us this year, to a smaller property that might only have one major event in the year. Those are both applicable and really the flexibility of the platform allows us to meet the needs of many different types of partners.
How important are speed to market and the ability to react to consumption trends when it comes to building a digital presence?
One of the value propositions that we talk about is how it’s a future-proofed product from a device and platform perspective, but it also has value beyond launch. If we add a new feature to the platform, anyone that is on the platform gets access to that feature. Every four weeks or so we send out new features to all our partners, discuss with them what they do, train them, and if they want to turn those features on, they get turned on free of charge.
That’s a major differentiator. Most of the time you launch something and it becomes pretty stale, or you have to pay and start a new development cycle to make updates. What we’re trying to do with the productisation is allow for updates to be made across the board as new technology comes about and as new things are hot in the marketplace.
We can add them and our partners get access to them free of charge as long as they’re on the platform. It future-proofs that investment, where they don’t have to worry about a great new feature coming out, everyone has got it but they don't have to pay another US$15,000 to get that.
When we add it to the platform, everyone gets it across the aboard, so it’s a way that you can be confident that your product and your digital experience is going to grow with the marketplace as the Corebine product grows as well.