The British and Irish Lions is a rugby union team made up of players from the national sides of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. They tour every four years in either Australia, New Zealand or South Africa in what are highly publicised matches.
Helping the Lions roar.
We were approached to make the most of new and available technologies to bring fans closer to the tour than ever before. Opening up the playing field to everyone. 80% of people use mobile or tablet whilst watching TV - this was the target market for a new app.
Beyond just imparting information about statistics and scores, the Lions want fans to share in the passion, pride and excitement the tour incites. With any national or international event, there’s the challenge of making spectators feel as close to the action as possible. So we formulated a 'second screen' strategy resulting in the build of an app with the functionality to communicate media rich information.
Built using Xamarin, the Lions app is available across Windows, iOS and Android operating systems. It provides in-depth tour information, and a platform to share with the rest of the online sporting community using the #SeaOfRed hashtag. Amongst other features, users also have the ability to nominate their Man of the Match as the tour proceeds.
The behind the scenes videos taken by the Lions during the tour using the Microsoft Surface and the Nokia Lumia is something fans really engaged with. These are videos uploaded in real time to the app, giving fans unprecedented insight into the tour. The app also offers the opportunity to enter exclusive competitions and win prizes. Such features provide an opportunity for exposure for the Lions during the build-up to the tour.
Windows Azure as a technology platform is absolutely at the heart of the solution built for the British & Irish Lions. It means that the Lions can publish their content once, put it into the system that Sequence have built, and then seamlessly have that information powered out across all devices.
Geoff Hughes Microsoft
Create once, publish everywhere.
As well as usage during the tour, the app also serves as a great repository of content for the months following. The behind the scenes video function is a modern and digital take on the iconic 'Living with the Lions' documentary. A snapshot of history captured in a unique but also modern way.
The most elegant and practical hosting solution was the Microsoft Azure Cloud service. Enabling us to cope with the massive traffic predicted during key periods, and giving us the freedom to engage with as many users as possible. Azure also provides peace of mind that the app will be reliable and quick. Providing a responsive service across multiple devices allowing the Lions to create once but publish everywhere.
Bringing fans closer.
The Lions app created a challenge for us, but at the same time created an opportunity: to turn the core architecture of the app into a reusable platform which would allow us to deliver cloud managed, multi-platform apps. This platform is even made available to other developers in the future to aid them in building their own content-rich, updatable applications.
The app itself provides more authentic content about the tour than any other app or website. The tone is playful and fun with content created by the squad and the fans themselves. Therefore, engrossing fans within the tour at all times. The tour of Australia went underway in June 2013 and the app received over 180,000 downloads, with a positive 4.5/5 star rating on the app store.
App store rating
Downloads by June 2013