Scaling a mobile app that serves real time content – Umpire Media Story!

Oh Fuck! What’s happening? What’s wrong with the umpire?
That *beep**beep**beep* has 
given a wrong decision. Oh man… this sucks! “.

If you are a huge fan of sports, you definitely will not be an alien to this situation. Its not very uncommon to see umpires giving wrong decisions and the managers getting into an argument with them. You can’t dive into a rule book every time to find if a decision is right or wrong. But what if, someone could explain to you every rule, that too with a video with just a tap on your mobile phone. Umpires Media has a solution. Lets find out.

Umpires Media is the provider of video-based sports rule explanation for several sports in several languages.  They help fans, players and  coaches  to get easy access of the explanations of the rules of the game over a wireless device. On their recent interview with their CEO David Yorke, lets find out the inspiration behind their idea, reason he choose to go mobile and more.

What led you to come up with this idea?

The  idea struck  me while I was a producer & director of a television series in Toronto. There are about 4 million umpires in the North America holding on to their rule books for getting re-certified every year. And there are 500 rules in the rule book out of which many rules are not clearly explained. So, I applied my production skills to my true love, baseball and came up with explanatory videos and quiz.

There are totally 478  situations in a baseball rule book and we will be producing videos explaining all the situations. For now, we have 10% of the baseball rule book already available.

Why did you plan to go mobile and are there any specific nuances about being a mobile-first company?

Evans Camp Director Camera 084The video content has to be easily accessible to everyone. These days almost everyone has a mobile phone and are connected to the internet. So with our mobile app, anybody could easily access our content. For moment of truth contexts like ours, mobile is the most important medium. But when it comes to mobile, just an app won’t do it. We would see spikes of tremendous traffic within short periods of time, putting load on our servers. We need to be judicious about what the app does locally versus what the server side needs to do. We were meticulous about scaling optimally.

There is video content. There is search and response. There is interaction around the video. The app had to be super light and content had to be optimized for faster serving. Thankfully with state of the art content delivery mechanisms, cloud based performance monitoring and optimization tools, we can reasonably guarantee that as long as such a system is architected well, scale can be achieved without breaking the bank and still delivering to industry standard service levels.

How are you planning to make revenue from Umpires Media?       

During a recent match between St.Louis vs Boston Red Sox, St.Louis won on the final play of the game because there was an obstruction. This left Boston fuming and the manager came up yelling at the umpire. Nobody knew what was going on. Even the announcers had no clue what it was. I tweeted that we have this rule in our archive and our click rate exploded. Now imagine if at such a moment our content is beamed on television and Coke sponsoring it. Imagine our app being pulled out at the stadium and there is a sponsor for the video. That’s how we could drive revenue.

Also, we partner with sports associations world wide who can use our app to conduct tests for their umpires. We supply them with 25 rule video questions and if they charge around $75 to 80$, we could get $15 out of that.

If you have a sports app in mind and if you are looking for a team to build it, check out some of the mobile app developers, who have been there and done it before.


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