BT Sport reimagines digital sports content with Adobe Experience Manager.
One of the UK’s most popular sport broadcasters ups its game with a customer-centric website and mobile app.
Relaunch BT Sport’s website and app as a user-led digital experience
Replace legacy CMS and eliminate data siloes that were impacting website performance
Automate data processes to support seamless integrations between digital channels
39% jump in visits to BT Sport after relaunching the digital customer experience
Boosted page views by 19%
Pages load 35% faster
An experience built for sport fans, by sport fans
“I love sport, to the extent that I even did a sport degree at university. I’m lucky to work in a field I’m so passionate about,” reflects Matthew McMahon, digital product owner at BT Sport. “It’s rare that you get to influence the way something you love is portrayed to the world, but that’s precisely what my team and I get to do each day”.
BT Sport is one of the UK’s most popular sport broadcasters, showing and hosting content on everything from the UEFA Champions League to MotoGP races to marquee UFC matchups. As the architects behind its website and mobile application, McMahon and his team play a crucial role in the organization, which is to build and deliver a digital fan experience that lives up to the promise of these channels.
The team reached a pivotal moment in 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when BT Sport relaunched its website and mobile app. Working closely with stakeholders across the business, McMahon and his team moved the company off its outdated CMS system and onto an integrated suite of Adobe technologies, including Adobe Experience Manager. Less than a year after launching, BT Sport had dramatically boosted traffic to its website and mobile app, and achieved record sales.
“It’s rare that you get to influence the way something you love is portrayed to the world, but that’s precisely what my team and I get to do each day.”
Digital Product Owner, BT Sport
Reaching collective euphoria
BT Sport’s transformation began in 2019 thanks to the convergence of two factors. First, the company’s legacy CMS system had reached the end of its service life. The web team had a clear mandate to deliver an integrated customer experience to BT Sport’s audiences, but the system could not support the data exchange, automation, or collaboration between teams required to deliver a modern customer experience.
“We knew we wanted to deliver personalised online journeys for our web and app visitors,” says McMahon.
Secondly, BT Sport’s parent company, BT, had kicked off its own shift to user-led design in its customer offering. In practice, this means it prioritizes the user experience over explicit upselling on its web and mobile properties, which included the removal of advertisements from the BT Sport platform.
“Looking at the Adobe suite, including Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe Target, and Adobe Audience Manager, we were able combine these pieces together strategically to spend less time authoring content and more time focusing on customers. Today, we just create APIs and data feeds to support every piece of content that appears in the BT Sport app, rather than manually authoring everything, which greatly improves the experience for fans,” says McMahon.
McMahon is adamant that while his team spearheaded BT Sport’s digital transformation, the project was in fact a strategic rebuild that brought the entire business together. Working closely with marketing, sales, BT Sport backend services, and other stakeholders across BT, the web team was able deliver a new digital version of BT Sport.
“We had five editors, two product owners, a content specialist, a designer, 12 developers, service architects, our support services team, and the IT guys who run our infrastructure all working collectively to get this over the line. When you’re that collaborative and the result is this successful, you come out the other end with a sense of euphoria,” says McMahon.
COVID-19: a test and an opportunity
It would be impossible to discuss BT Sport’s relaunch without nodding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Overnight, there were no more live events to watch, and though fixtures eventually resumed, attendance was drastically reduced.
“As a sports lover, it was heartbreaking to see a world without live events, but we were in a unique position to launch our digital experience at a time when people craved it most,” says McMahon.
In a surprising twist of fate, BT had earned the rights to show more content than ever, including every Gallagher Premiership Rugby match.
“We had an opportunity to launch the new BT Sport website and test it with sport-starved fans who were receptive to new experiences. That allowed us to learn and refine our approach quickly, with less risk,” says McMahon.
Shattering records and customer expectations
Above all, the new BT Sport experience is more unified and user-centric. BT Sport can now deliver a complete live stream experience. This real-time access from any device sits at the heart of the new BT Sport.
To optimize its customer experience across devices, BT Sport opted for an adaptive design for its website and app, rather than the more common responsive design that prevails among many developers. McMahon explains that this was a conscious choice, using the example of match day pages to illustrate his point:
“On a responsive app or website, the team tables and line-ups on match day pages would stack on top of each other creating an incredibly long page and we know that’s not how sports fans want to consume content. Instead, our adaptive experience ensures that visitors can easily access and flick through all of this information, without having to scroll back and forth endlessly,” he says.
Behind these improved digital experiences sits Adobe Experience Manager, which has helped BT Sport to automate the crucial tasks that underpin its web and mobile offering. McMahon and his team decided early on in the project to ensure all digital content was properly tagged so that the BT Sport team could lean on the automation in Adobe Experience Manager to roll out personalized content quickly, rather than relying on slow, manual processes.
The tag management system within the platform allowed the team to create comprehensive indexes for all of BT Sport’s digital content, which in turn led to rapid turnaround times and webpage launches. According to McMahon, the company was able to spin up 200 tag pages almost instantly.
“We also created 4,000 football match day pages, incorporating live data, live streams, and video content in just 20 minutes, without any editor intervention,” he adds. “By the time we launched, we estimated that this approach had saved us 47 days per year in content editing time”.
Meanwhile, Adobe Target has allowed BT Sport to adapt its calls to action and deliver more personalized user journeys, which was a major consideration for an ad-free website. Existing customers might see tips on how they can make the most of their BT Sport subscriptions, while new visitors will see tailored experiences to engage and draw them into the ecosystem.
“We thought of all the headaches that get in the way of a good experience and looked to eliminate them. We never leave visitors with a dead-end. They always have the option to engage further if they want, whether that means viewing related content, more highlights, or checking news and scores from other fixtures”.
These improvements have paid dividends across the board. Since going live with the reimagined BT Sport, page load speeds are 35% faster and improving each day. This smoother experience has won customers over as well, with page views jumping 19% and visits to BT Sport rising 39%.
“We had five editors, two product owners, a content specialist, a designer, 12 developers, service architects, our support services team, and the IT guys who run our infrastructure all working collectively to get this over the line. When you’re that collaborative and the result is this successful, you come out the other end with a sense of euphoria.”
Digital Product Owner, BT Sport
Ultimate support meets the ultimate premier league
To make the most of its new solutions, BT Sport enlisted the help of Adobe Support to optimize the performance of the Adobe Experience Cloud solutions. Through dedicated knowledge sharing and consulting, the Ultimate Support plan provided best practices and enhancements to ensure solutions were integrated to perform at their best and users were aware of new product features, whilst technical audits were performed to proactively identify and solve potential risks to performance.
Adobe Support also helped the team to refine their customer segmentation and personalisation strategies with Adobe Target and Adobe Audience Manager. “Adobe has been a true partner, helping us to enrich our customer profiles and segmentation, and to plan for the adoption of advanced features as we build on our success to date,” says McMahon.
“The result is a product that marries the latest features with a fan-friendly experience that has made our brand stronger than ever.”
Digital Product Owner, BT Sport
The future is simple
Roughly one year after going live on the new BT Sport platform, and McMahon is still amazed by how the changes his team has made on the backend have translated to slick, simple, personalized experiences for customers.
“That’s the wow factor. When you see those automated elements ticking along and doing their job, it’s immensely satisfying. It took a great deal of planning and design, but the big payoff is in the simple things working well. Like a match day table for a Champions League fixture that does everything our fans want it to,” he says.
BT Sport now plans to draw on the suite of Adobe technologies to automate its processes even further. The company has more than 200,000 pieces of live content and counting, and together with Adobe Support, who helped them through every step of their implementation, it is looking to deliver its growing list of assets in a truly personalized way.
McMahon is confident BT Sport’s digital experience will continue going from strength to strength. “We still have work to do, but I'm proud of the platform we have built so far. The result is a product that marries the latest features with a fan-friendly experience that has made our brand stronger than ever.”