MANILA, Philippines – “These are exciting times for Philippine football and we want to be a part of it,” says Biplav Gautam, the director for Federation Services for Sportradar Asia.
Sportradar, based in Switzerland, will provide the livestream platform for the PFL, which kicks off its second season on March 3. The partnership was finalized last Thursday, February 22, in a press conference at the Marco Polo hotel in Ortigas. The contract has been described as a “multiyear” agreement.
The Sportradar website says the company has been engaged in streaming for 15 years already, producing 30,000 streams a year.
“We thank Sportradar for their belief in the viability of the PFL,” said Philippine Football Federation president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta.
Sportradar replaces the MyCujoo platform that was used last season. MyCujoo brought PFL matches to the phones and laptops of football fans with a user-friendly interface that allowed fans to view highlights and goals even when the match was ongoing. However, internet connectivity issues and often spotty video quality and camera work, (neither of which was the fault of MyCujoo), often marred the experience of watching the stream.
The PFL's new partner revealed on Thursday that they will strive to create a good product for the PFL. On Thursday Sportradar's Dylan Chuan promised no buffering and a “high quality stream.” Chuan mentioned that if the internet speed is slow, viewers would get a lower resolution video but a “seamless” stream. Presumably in an environment with a faster internet speed, a higher resolution video would be made available.
Last year viewers on MyCujoo could choose anywhere from 240p to 480p up to a maximum of 720p. In this writer's experience the stream would often work fine at 480p but bogged down if 720p would be selected. Results of course would vary based on the internet speed of the viewer's location.
PFL CEO Lazarus Xavier revealed that there would likely be one or two cameras for matches and that selected matches would have commentary. There is already a URL for the stream, and it is www.pfltv.ph. Sportradar officials said that an app will also be launched to allow fans to watch on their smartphones without going to a browser.
It was also announced in the press con that match highlights and top goals would all be archived for easy reference and sharing by fans. Chuan also said that the content would be made available on YouTube.
The videos would be available free of charge all over the world.
Gautam also remarked that the stream would be a “fantastic way for sponsors to engage with fans.” That presumably means plenty of opportunities for sponsors to exposure their brands on the stream.
Araneta said that the PFL is currently working with Japanese advertising behemoth Dentsu to search for new sponsors.
Xavier was quick to dismiss any notion that this OTT (Over-the-top) delivery of matches would mean a lack of a TV partner. The Malaysian affirmed that the league is indeed in discussions with an unnamed network to carry PFL matches on TV to complement the stream.
Sportradar operates in 30 countries and, apart from livestreaming. specializes in “integrity services” to spot match-fixing. Their clients include the NBA, the National Hockey League, the National Football League, and the International Tennis Federation.
“If there is match-fixing in the PFL we will catch it,” said Gautam.
The PFL's second season, which will feature a league phase, commences with two matches on Saturday, March 3, Ceres Negros vs Stallion Laguna, and JPV Marikina against Global Cebu. Davao Aguilas and Kaya Iloilo tangle on the following day. See the entire fixture list here. – Rappler.com
Follow Bob on Twitter @PassionateFanPH.