England World Cup Internet Exclusive

making sporting history

Overview

International football agency Kentaro came to Taylor Herring with an ambitious plan to broadcast the Ukraine Vs England Fifa World Cup 2010 qualifier exclusively live on the internet.

Kentaro had sold the broadcast rights of the fixture to Setanta in December 2007. However the Pay TV operator went into administration leaving the key match without a UK broadcaster. It would be the first time in history that a key England game would not be available to view on TV.

Kentaro hired digital sport specialist Perform, to stream the match online, on a pay-per-view basis. Fans would watch the landmark match by registering at ukraineVengland.com. Subscriptions would be available at an early-bird price of £4.99 rising to £11.99 for purchases made on the day.

With just 4 weeks’ notice Taylor Herring pulled together an aggressive PR plan to drive hype, excitement and awareness around the first ever exclusively online broadcast of an England game in the UK.

The Campaign

We positioned the fixture as an iconic milestone in the history of British broadcasting and technology, generating interest in how and where the game could be viewed.

We invited key journalists and opinion formers from a broad range of media to a press conference to unveil our plans and reveal our star pundit for the game, former England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson. Pre-recorded TV exclusives with BBC and Sky ensured that we dominated breakfast news coverage before the launch.

Post press conference, we staged a Q&A session with Eriksson, Philip Grothe (CEO of Kentaro) and Andrew Croker (Executive Chairman of Perform). This was followed by a photocall and one-on-one interviews. Peter Silverstone, Kentaro’s MD, was an active spokesperson for TV, radio and print.

A coalition of newspapers and ISP’s were brought together to stream the game via their own websites. Partners included; The Sun, The Times, News of the World, The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Express, The Daily Star, The Independent, Virgin Media and Orange. All websites offered a promotion where the user could watch the match for free if they opened an account with bet365.com, a leading online bookmaker.

Taylor Herring developed a crisis communications plan and provided support to Perform and Kentaro throughout the project devising Q&A’s and arranging media training. Multiple press releases and materials were pre-prepared for sell-in.

Taylor Herring facilitated a deal with Odeon group, via distributor Arts Alliance Media, who delivered a live stream of the game to cinemas across the country.

A special arrangement was made to screen the game to British Armed forces overseas for free. As many troops do not have internet access the game was broadcast into military bases via BFBS Television.

The story began in the sports pages but quickly gained crossover appeal resulting in our campaign becoming tailored to suit technological, news, media, features, and mainstream outlets in the media

There was some backlash experienced from disgruntled fans and sports writers who were less supportive of having to pay to view a game online. We were conscious of this obstacle throughout the campaign and proactively countered negative media commentary by positioning the venture as the hero solution.
 
Coverage

Pre event coverage was achieved in every national newspaper including double page spreads in The Sun and Evening Standard all of which fully credited the website and detailed its subscription terms. Editorial was also secured in the likes of The Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph, The Observer and News Of The World.

In the days leading up to the game our broadcast campaign delivered results on BBC News at 10, Sky News, ITV News, Channel 4 News, Five News, BBC Breakfast, GMTV and CNN as well as on key radio stations such as BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio Five Live, BBC Radio 2 and LBC 97.3.

Taylor Herring generated a wide online presence for the story with coverage running on a wide range of sites including PA.com, Reuters, BBC Online, Times Online, Telegraph.co.uk and Digital Spy.

The story became an international talking point with major publications such as The New York Times, Washington Post, Bangkok Post and South China Morning Post, amongst others, all picking up on the announcement.

Results…

The campaign delivered: 72 national newspaper articles, 17 national radio items, 28 national and regional TV Items, 88 regional newspaper articles and 142 major online news stories.
Close to half a million football fans watched and earned their place in the history books, as the game became Britain’s biggest internet pay-to-view sports broadcast.