NFL uses Reality Digital to turn fans into video producers

The NFL needed way to "socialize" it's video and site content. Read how Reality Digital helped the league accomplish its goals.
Written by Jennifer Leggio, Contributor
NFL uses Reality Digital to turn fans into video producers
When the NFL wanted to create evolve the user-generated content on its site -- and find a way to better engage its visitors -- it turned to Adobe's Premiere Express technology for video clip editing. When the league wanted to turn that into a social experience, it combined the Adobe technology with a hosted service platform for storing, sharing and managing user-generated content from Reality Digital. The result? The NFL Replay Re-Cutter.

The NFL.com Replay Re-Cutter allows fans to edit and remix video highlights of their favorite plays, players and teams throughout the season. With the Adobe technology, football fans can make their own "personal highlight reel" using existing videos as well as photos, graphics and audio files through a drag-and-drop method. A great tool, but the NFL had a challenge on its hands. With the need to upload weekly video highlights from 32 teams, how would it manage the user-generated content? How would it track where the content is shared? How could they they turn this into a more social tool and create more site traffic?

The solution was found when the NFL integrated Adobe's technology with Reality Digital's Opus Social Media Platform, a white label solution. With this platform, NFL fans can share "re-cuts" with others who can view and rate them, and then create their own videos. Videos shared elsewhere then bring interested viewers back to the NFL.com site.

I spoke with Hans Schroeder, the NFL’s vice president of digital media and media strategy, and Noah Fischbach, NFL.com's director of digital content, to find out more about why they did this integration and what marketing benefits the league is seeing from the Re-Cutter overall.

Q. [Jennifer Leggio] What  gave you the idea to do the Replay Re-Cutter?

A. [NFL] The re-cutter was an opportunity for us to evolve the user-generated content experience on the site. We wanted to take steps in that direction and do it in a way that was smart and conscious of our brand. It was a way for us to allow users to get involved in a way they haven't done previously and a smart way to expand the suite of content on the site.

Q. How did you get started?

A. We talked to Adobe about a lot of options and one was the Adobe Premiere Express application. It's a strong product but Adobe didn't offer any community or social elements around that. Reality Digital really brought this product to life. We were able to aggregate all of the different clips and make them more social. We're very happy and satisfied. Reality Digital has proven to be a good partner.

Q. What  were the challenges?

The biggest challenge was understanding how to cut up the content and how to bucketize it. When we first launched the Re-Cutter we pre-populated it with hundreds of different clips for each of the teams. But how do we scale? How do we cut it? We decided that cutting them by team was the easiest way for us and for our users. We have a ton of content, though, and we had a challenge in determining how to best make it digestible for our users. Reality Digital was able to help us provide a richness to the experience so that the content is easy to navigate but none of the creative experience is lost.

Q. Has this increased traffic / improved visits?

A. We track the Re-Cutter separately than our other Web traffic and we've been very happy with the performance. It's had a good impact on overall site video consumption. We do registrations as well, though it's not required, and have been able to capture a lot of fan information that way. We're happy with the numbers overall. (Note: NFL declined to share specific performance numbers)

Q. What were the primary objectives you had when creating the Re-Cutter and have you reached them?

A. It was certainly an opportunity for us to expand our suite of products and thereby increase traffic. The more different products we offer, the more fans we attract. We also wanted to learn more about our fans. What content do they want and what will they do with our content if given the chance? It provides an interesting programming angle and by watching what content they produce it allows us to get smarter about how we program the overall site.

Reality Digital is creating similar solutions for multiple other companies. While MLB.com is also a customer, don't think the company only works with sports leagues. Organizations such as MTV, Travel Channel, Real Networks, Sears, Dreyer's and Hearst Corporation are using Reality Digital solutions.

"We work with a pretty broad cross-section of customers, including retail, entertainment and media, as well as other industries that you wouldn't automatically assume need a social media platform, such as the sports industry," said Cynthia Francis, Reality Digital co-founder and CEO. "Some of our customers base their entire business on our platform, whereas others may use it to support a specific feature or campaign. We've found a way to provide brand-safe, rich media communities for disparate businesses to build brand recognition and establish stronger relationships with customers and partners.”

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