The British & Irish Lions
The British and Irish Lions (formerly known as the British Isles and the British Lions) is a rugby union team chosen from players from the national sides of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The "Lions" (as they are colloquially known) generally select international players but they can pick uncapped players available to any one of the four unions — although in recent years this has rarely occurred.
Helping the Lions Roar
The British & Irish Lions tour is a highly anticipated and prestigious sporting event. A rugby tour of our four nation's best players, that comes around only once every four years. We were approached by the Lions to help them find a way to make the most of new and available technologies to enable fans to get closer to the game than ever before, opening up the playing field to all by using everything digital has to offer.
Beyond just imparting information about statistics and scores the Lions want fans to share in the passion, pride and excitement the tour incites in rugby fans from all over the world. With any national or international event there is always the challenge of making the spectators feel as close to the action as possible. With our help a 'Second Screen' strategy was formulated which has resulted in our building a multi-platform app with the functionality to communicate media rich information.
The free Lions Official app is available across the 3 leading operating systems, Windows, iOS and Android - both phone and tablet. The app provides in-depth tour knowledge and the perfect platform to share with the rest of the online sporting community using the #seaofred hashtag on the featured twitter feed. There will also be the ability to add your Man of the Match as the tour proceeds. We are really excited about the behind the scenes videos that will be taken by the Lions using the Microsoft Surface and the Nokia Lumia. These videos will be uploaded in real time to the app, giving fans unprecedented insight into the tour. The app also provides the opportunity to enter exclusive competitions and win once in a lifetime prizes. These features provide a great deal of opportunity for exposure for the Lions during the build-up to the tour.
As well as massive potential for usage during the tour the app will also serve as a great repository of content for the months following where fans can go to read more about their favourite event and sport. The 'behind the scenes' video function of the App is a modern and digital take on the iconic 'Living with the Lions' documentary, this will be a snapshot of history captured in a unique and utterly modern way. We will be part of a great sporting legacy. This app will provide more authentic content about the tour than any other app or website on the market. The tone is playful and fun with the content created by the squad and the fans themselves, rather than a reporter or someone else external.
Create Once, Publish Everywhere
This is our first time building across all three platforms, iOS, Android and Windows. To help us with this undertaking we employed a MVVM framework based on open source code which helped us build across all platforms. iOS and Android development were new to us so we had a steep learning curve ahead of us! The MVVM framework was massively helpful as it gave us somewhere to start when developing for each platform.
Using the Azure Cloud Service
We found the most elegant and practical solution with regards to hosting the App was to choose the Azure Cloud service, thus enabling us to cope with the massive traffic predicted during key times, match days for example, and giving us the flexibility and freedom to engage with as many users as possible. Using Azure also provides peace of mind that the App will be very reliable and quick. In the making of The British & Irish Lions App we used new Microsoft technologies such as video encoding and Azure websites. The Azure cloud provides a reliable and fully responsive service across multiple devices enabling the Lions to 'Create Once, Publish Everywhere'. We can't wait to see how the app grows and develops throughout the tour!