Frustrated with the disparate sources of news, highlights and goals, especially the grainy vision of so many goals we used to see on YouTube. A team of guys banded together to create a football platform that centralises all of the content that they were looking, thus FOOTYLIGHT was born.
The digital platform aggregates news, live scores, statistics, highlights and podcasts from multiple sources and matches them to each reader.
This is part-one of a two-part conversation with one of the co-founders of FOOTYLIGHT Niloy Das which we’ve done in collaboration with the team at Sportageous.
Let’s go back to the early stages of FOOTYLIGHT, how did yourself and co-founders see a gap in the market?
Niloy Das: “It all started as a fun project between three of our co-founders, so MD (Khurshid) is one of our co-founders and he lives in the United States. We were having a casual chat and he was saying that he was fed up with searching for content across different platforms, club websites and YouTube for news and video. He (MD) was saying that in an ideal world he would have a centralised compilation of content. And then our tech guru (Erfan) said, ‘okay, let’s see if I can make something.’
“While it all started as a fun project, in a few days MD had an app built for him which he shared with his peers to gather their thoughts. We then released it into the App Store and found that a lot of fans were also looking for the same aggregation of content, especially as video content was increasing.
“This is how we came up with the idea of FOOTYLIGHT. So the early stages of its development was in 2014 and we started with very limited content and gradually increased it. We started to communicate with the official content providers, and it started to become a serious project after that in 2016.”
The aggregation of content is pretty interesting. You’re getting stuff from Stats Perform, Minute Media, Omnisport and Dugout. What is the proposition that you offer to be able to bring those partners on board on your platform?
ND: “The partners with whom we are now working with are the prominent content providers in the football industry. For news articles we use Stats Perform and 90min which is Minute Media.
“We actually work with two models with the content providers. One is a subscription model and another is an affiliation model. We share content from content providers as an affiliate partner, we work as a lead generation platform for them. With Stats Perform and a few other providers, we work with them via a subscription model. So we subscribe to their content and use their content in our platform. We curate it all and suggest related content to our users.”
So what is your value proposition that you offer these partners to give an holistic platform to readers?
ND: “I might be reading an article on Lionel Messi, right then I might need to check some of his history – like which year he made his debut for Barcelona’s first team or where did he come from prior to making the move to Barcelona.
“To make it interactive, the digital content needs to be cross-platform and very much interactive and connected. So whilst reading an article, you might need to know the profile of Messi. By clicking on his name you will be redirected to his profile or you might be redirected to his goal clips- that kind of interaction we provide. It demands cross-platform and cross-provider integration. So that’s the proposition we have. We have the news articles from one content provider, but we are integrating them with content like statistics and videos from another provider.”
So which leads me to the technology that powers the platform. Can you give a little bit of insight into how artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning powers the content?
ND: “We use AI and machine learning to create the fan profiling. By fan profiling we mean that a user puts some preferences that they want to follow: the team, the player, the competition and based on the content consumption we would profile the users. Why do we do it? Because we want to suggest more relevant content to a user. So we use the AI engine to profile the fans, the content and to create the connection between them.”
That’s powerful in two respects, because you can commercialise it for one and the personalisation gives each user a unique experience.
ND: “Our target is to engage our users in a deeper way. The more times a user is engaged, there will be more opportunities to commercialise it. Digital screen time is the new currency, the more time we can engage people on screen, the more value we can create. To be continually engaging, we need to give users relevant football content and provide them the right content at the right moment. How can we do it? We do it by connecting them with similar minded fans, we connect them with similar brands so that they can get more of the content that they are looking for. They can get more relevant products that they want to buy, they can get tickets, apparel and merchandise. That’s how the AI works, it’s a matchmaking platform between the football fans and the brands.”
What are the growth areas that you want to target your content platform to next?
ND: “We started with English content only. Our users are from mostly the English speaking countries, namely US, UK, Singapore, Canada and Australia. But over the time, we partnered with other content providers who provide us contents in different languages. Our content now comes in 10 additional languages like French, German, Spanish, Portuguese and also in Southeast Asian languages like Vietnamese and Indonesian. So the football hotspots in the world- we are trying to cover them first but of course we want to expand in other countries.
“We are keen to grow across Asia, Latin America and Africa in future.”
Thai to Vietnamese, you’ve got Hindi as well. Increased language flexibility is an intriguing proposition.
ND: “Absolutely. The plan is to provide video content in different languages in association with articles, graphics, titles, subtitles.
“Then the aim is to keep adding more interactive content, like short clips, interactive videos and also some good quality statistics. We have basic level of statistics but we aim to add interactive statistics over the time.”