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Global OTT: Ekstraklasa chooses Red Bee Media

Posted on Jun 21, 2021 by Verity Butler

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Fans of top-tier Polish football are in for a treat, as Ekstraklasa TV evolves through a new global OTT partnership with Red Bee Media

The Ekstraklasa is the top Polish professional league for men’s association football teams.

Ekstraklasa Live Park, the division’s production company, is fully responsible for producing all of the matches for its TV partners, including national broadcaster Polish Television (TVP) and Canal Plus.

With the Polish diaspora outside the country estimated at around 20 million people – and football itself being an international obsession – Ekstraklasa is undertaking a revolution in digital strategy. The league had been distributing its content online as far back as 2015, publishing near-live match clips to its mobile application. It streamed internationally through DailyMotion – Ekstraklasa had a distribution deal with owner Vivendi.

“We started thinking about setting up our own OTT platform,” says Ekstraklasa media rights consultant and board advisor, Małgorzata Borkowska. “The overall strategy is to have as many TV broadcast deals as possible, but with the global OTT platform, we have all the matches available in almost every territory. TV broadcasts support the OTT platform, in part because TV partners have to show a short bumper promoting the full OTT offering.

With a partner like Red Bee, we can move in directions we haven’t even come up with yet

Ekstraklasa had worked with an OTT provider for a couple years, but needed to develop its platform and decided to do it with a new partner. At the end of last year, it went through a rigorous RFP process, vetting over 30 OTT technology providers. After several gruelling rounds, the winner was Red Bee’s cloud-based OTT and VOD platform.

“A key feature was the complexity of data that can be delivered by the Red Bee platform,” explains Borkowska. “We’ve been repeating it over and over again – data, data, data. The more you know, the more you can do.”

The league’s revamped OTT platform launches in July. It’s set to offer clips and highlights for free, supporting pay-per-view access, a monthly subscription or a season pass that unlocks extra content. All matches have Polish commentary. Red Bee’s platform enables Ekstraklasa to deliver on as many platforms as possible, including iOS, Android devices and Smart TV.

“Red Bee has a long-standing history of developing these different TV services. It’s owned by Ericsson, and we trust that type of brand. We didn’t want to partner with a start-up or a company that was suddenly going to disappear from the market.”

According to Jan-Pieter Laauwen, business development director at Red Bee, the agility of the company’s platform goes beyond technology, accommodating various business models.

“Red Bee’s story is about offering multiple services and a flexible commercial model,” says Laauwen. “It is a pay-as-you-grow model, built on a modular and scalable system. If Ekstraklasa is successful, Red Bee is successful.”

“We’ll be able to do a lot more with the platform,” says Borkowska. “We can reach a larger audience, have more insight into the data we gather and offer a more mature product.

With a partner like Red Bee, we can move in directions we haven’t even come up with yet.”

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This article first featured in the Summer 2021 issue of FEED magazine.

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