NBC Sports relies on Brightspot to power digital coverage for its Golf Channel as well as exclusive digital rights for the PGA Championship and biannual Ryder Cup.
The NBC Sports challenge
NBC Sports is the parent for a portfolio of premium brands, including the Golf Channel, as well as the exclusive digital partner for the PGA Championship and biannual Ryder Cup. The overarching challenge for NBC Sports is a multifaceted one that delivers on the high-performance media needs for the golf world's most recognized broadcaster—not to mention the varying complexities that relate to rotating event venues, live scoring and player statistics for tournament play around the world.
Stepping back, however, to the genesis of a partnership that dates back to 2016, NBC Sports required a solution to transform the digital presence of emerging strategic brands within its Golf Channel division. This included launching Golf Channel's new GolfPass offering, an umbrella subscription service for golf enthusiasts to access premium content from the Golf Channel along with additional offline member benefits. Other sub-brands that fell within the same stable at the time included Golf Advisor (since merged under GolfPass) and Golf Films (now a Golf Channel subsection).
Based on the success of the initial engagement, NBC Sports further looked to Brightspot to combine its disparate brands and platforms into one unified digital publishing experience. The challenge was to reduce the total cost of ownership of hosting content on disparate legacy content management system (CMS) and blog platforms.
Within the broadening of Brightspot's partnership with the Golf Channel, a new opportunity arose to support the NBC Sports' digital coverage for its roster of tournaments, including the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup.
With the world's eyes on the action from the course, the solution needed to be highly scalable to support real-time scores and stats; video streaming for every putt, chip and drive as well as replays and course flyovers; plus an array of complex, data-intensive feeds.
The Brightspot solution for NBC Sports
Brightspot's multisite platform was the perfect foundation for consolidating a labyrinth of digital properties into one CMS instance for a more efficient publishing process across the NBC Sports network of golf properties. It also facilitated significant time- and cost-saving efficiencies for content teams handling different branding and sponsorship needs for individual tournaments.
Brightspot's extensible architecture supports NBC Sports' varied business requirements, including custom content types and over 20 third-party integrations vital to the business. These include video and audio feeds, sports stats and scores providers, syndication and analytics.
The CMS's flexible content-modeling capabilities, in particular, have enabled creation of golf-specific content types, including player and course profiles, tee times and tournament leaderboards.
I’ve worked with Brightspot on a number of strategic initiatives at Golf Channel and have been consistently impressed with the team and the technology. Brightspot literally empowers all digital team members, from editors to product managers, marketers and more, to utilize the full suite of tools within the CMS to create a premium customer experience.
The outcome for NBC Sports
The Golf Channel's GolfPass provides subscribers with access to a library of premium content and additional offline benefits provided by other Golf Channel properties. The first site redesign was launched in 2018.
- A single system powers GolfPass's product-marketing pages, its subscription sign-up and purchase process, as well as the online content destination experience.
- A native subscription sign-in and purchase flow was implemented by integrating with Golf Channel e-commerce APIs. As a roll-up brand, GolfPass can market to various audiences and attribute subscriptions back to any referring Golf Channel property.
- A two-way synchronization with the Golf Channel video provider (Comcast Technology Solution) was implemented to provide robust video management and paywalled content restriction. Brightspot’s advanced video features allow for easy playlist curation, while a proprietary companion content feature within the CMS allows editors to inject related content directly into the timestamped cuepoints.
- A true omnichannel offering, GolfPass is available on the web, Google Play, iOS App Store and AppleTV. Brightspot enables GolfPass publishers to program common application pages/screens from a single CMS and push to all devices or customize content per device.
One of four major championships in men's professional golf, the PGA Championship is hosted at a different U.S. golf venue each year. With this rotation, the PGA Championship's brand changes with each new tournament year, meaning a new theme of colors and logo must be updated to promote the latest event.
- Brightspot's flexible front-end theming supports easy rebranding of the major's website as well as the PGA's three other events (comprising the Senior PGA Championship, PGA Professional Championship and KPMG Women's PGA Championship). These events have been hosted through the Brightspot platform since 2019.
- With override options on front-end components such as the website header/footer, buttons, leaderboard and tee times, CMS editors have flexibility to adjust sitewide colors, elements and styles without requiring developer assistance.
- A “switchable” content type for the homepage, section pages, one-off pages and page navigations allow both the European Tour and PGA content teams to program their respective digital experiences.
- The PGA Championship's legacy iOS and Android apps were not CMS-driven. When there was an editorial or content-related change request, updates to the application couldn’t be made without code deployments. By integrating with Brightspot GraphQL-powered APIs, a new native app implementation allows content teams to editorially curate content experiences within the app both leading up to and during the live event.
The Ryder Cup is contested every two years on a rotating basis between the U.S. and Europe. Hosted at different venues in the United States and Europe, two teams comprising the best players from each continent compete for regional honors during the three-day tournament.
- Beginning in 2020 with the COVID-delayed edition of the 2019 Ryder Cup, the flexibility of the Brightspot CMS complemented the Ryder Cup's unique match format and tournament structure. The Ryder Cup CMS is used and managed by two separate content teams: for Europe, the European Tour and for the U.S., the PGA. When the front-end user is in Europe or has their team preference set to “Europe” on the site, they are only served European-published content and vice versa when the user is in the United States. The event's two teams are also sponsored by separate brands: the European Ryder Cup team by Rolex and the U.S. team by Omega. Given sponsorship requirements, those clocks must only display on their respective team pages.
- With viewership spread across the world and consuming fast-changing stats for live matches and scoring, digital performance is paramount for a site like RyderCup.com. During the 2020 event, viewers from over 25 different countries would be hitting the site at the same moment in time. Brightspot's scalable back end is built to support such event-driven spikes in data payloads, having supported multiple live golf and other sporting events over the years.
- Powered by content and feeds through Brightspot CMS, native iOS and Android applications for the Ryder Cup featured up-to-the-minute stats and tournament updates, programmable editorial content areas and app-user access to course interactives, on-demand video and detailed player scorecards.