In October 2004 Versatel placed itself to a big challenge: a bid on the rights of the live matches in the Dutch premier soccer league.
The bid was won, and a program had to be quick started. Time was precious, between January and August 2005 a complete organization had to be set up (hardware, software, people, procedures, content, network, contracts….). The decision was made to get a lean approach.
Four of the team members were involved in this mission impossible.
After some intensive design session the route to go was set.
- An IP based network, core and metro
- Use of existing applications for order intake, customer (self) care, billing, provisioning
- Integrate the content management, the set top box had a browser based user interface
- Hire specialists for the build of the content registration en distribution
The project had a simple structure. A core team of four: 1) programme office, 2) network, 3) IT and content management, and 4) marketing and customer care. This team managed a series of smaller teams to address the challenges.
One of the other challenges was to manage one of the main contractors, Samsung. The way of work was quite different from what we know. The performance was high, as the commitment was.
Despite the strict timelines we managed to keep within budget. Quality was not something to discuss, TV has implicit quality constraints.
The first customers could subscribe in May, the first test and friendly user customers were connected at the end of May. The initial broadcast and VoD started mid June. The roll out started end of June, following the network readiness. Test-matches were broadcasted mid July, the first real end to end test. And at August 18th we had the first life broadcast of the opening match of the season.
In period after August the rough ends had to be cleared, and we started working on additional functionality like interactivity and special interest channels. The last were for instance life broadcast of Grolsch concerts, using the soccer broadcast infrastructure. But also advertorial channels were developed.
A headache project was the user interface on TV. This had not been done at this scale at that time. It should be not a copy of the hotel interface or TIVO. In the period between March and Beginning of August at least five look and feel changes were performed. The limitations of the remote control were most challenging.
Isn't this look and feel famliiar? Note that this was created in the mid of 2005!!