In a bid to encourage innovation and discover new companies and products, BT has set up the Infinity Lab Competition so that tech startups and developers can show off their skills.
Each competition is based around a different technology theme. The seventh competition, which asked how technology can help a sports viewer’s TV experience, was won by Seenit, a video collaboration platform that enables BT Sport to turn smartphone users into a film crew.
At the end of each Premier League match, BT Sport posts questions and challenges to Seenit’s online studio, which can viewed by different fan groups within the community. Using the Seenit Capture app, members of the public respond to these challenges by uploading a video which can be integrated into BT Sport’s live Premier League Tonight show.
Check out the video below to find out more.
Edward Pearse Wheatley, Seenit’s head of business growth, says it allows all fans to become pundits and share their views with a wider audience.
“In the case of BT Sport, we are allowing them to reach out to fans to turn them into football pundits for their live TV shows. With our technology we are helping them bridge the gap between fans and broadcast show,” he said.
Harriet Beaumont, creative consultant at Seenit, says that the service channels the passion of football fans, who view matches very differently from the experts in the studio.
“It can be difficult for studio pundits to express an opinion,” she said.
“What this allows the show to include is that real-life passion that football fans have. That is what makes the game so enjoyable and what they are doing is highlighting and showcasing these people who absolutely adore their team and will say straight up if they think they’ve done well or not.”
Jamie Hindhaugh, Chief Operating Manager of BT Sport and a member of the Infinity Lab judging panel, says Seenit offers a glimpse into the topics of the day.
“It stimulates conversation, for instance someone coming out of the Bournemouth game which might not been televised,” he said.
“It feeds into the topics of the moment. If you are Arsenal fan you can’t help but not be discussing Wenger, for instance.”
Seenit’s prize included mentoring and support from different areas within BT, including technology, product, legal and marketing
Following trials with a couple of shows including a Saracens rugby match, the Seenit team heard about the launch of the new BT Sport Premier League Tonight show, which wanted to bring fans into the football conversation in a way that worked with a live TV show format.
“With BT Sport as we go from one season to the next we look at how we can enhance our output, change our editorial and build on what we’ve been doing,” says Hindhaugh.
“We were designing a new programme to follow our new kick-off time for the Premier League, moving from lunchtime to 5.30 and we wanted a show to follow it – we wanted it to be more than just a wrap up of the game. I contacted Seenit and said: ‘We think there is a real opportunity here to use what you said you can do to build it into our programme.’”
Just eight months after winning the competition, Seenit was being used by Premier League Tonight.
Wheatley says everyone was amazed at how quickly it happened. “There’s a really nice tit-for-tat relationship with BT Infinity. They have a need - that’s why they create the brief. They are there to nurture, to make sure it happens.”
The speed was a combination of things, according to Hindhaugh: “It was really around the timing and planning we do per season and the fact that they got our attention by being part of the Infinity Lab and being the winners of that initiative.”
Seenit has earned plaudits from the team at BT Sport.
“Our pundits like it because it brings a freshness, it brings people who are not paid pundits into the world of broadcasting to stimulate conversation,” says Hindhaugh.
“For the audience at home you feel you are more part of that show because it’s not just people that you are used to seeing, you are bringing in and establishing different personalities.”
Presenter Jake Humphrey, who was on the Infinity Lab judging panel, says getting real football fans plugged in means you get a very different reaction from the pundits.
“If I asked them a question about Leicester, Manchester City or Sunderland they will give me an answer like they are talking to a fellow pundit TV presenter. If a fan asks, they would give an answer like they’d give to a fan on the street. I think you get something much more honest from the guys.”
The team at Seenit is looking at expanding into other broadcasting channels in the US and around the world.