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Getting to Know: Rich Cheary

The founder and CEO of PT SportSuite delves a little deeper into what gap in the industry he believes his business and product offering fills, along with touching on the world of digital content in the sports world, specifically as it relates to sports organisations.

Q: In a nutshell, what is PT SportSuite?
A:
PT SportSuite is a suite of digital products and platforms specifically tailored for sports organisations, enabling them to operate like modern, digital-first media houses in the way they capture, collect, manage and publish digital media to their fan communities. PT SportSuite is a modularised suite of digital products that integrates with all existing platforms. When the PT SportSuite product suite is implemented in its entirety, the operational efficiencies and cost effectiveness come into play, creating a digital media ecosystem spanning mobile media collection and workflow, cloud-based digital asset management, digital publishing and video OTT services, augmented reality and mobile community engagement apps.

Q: What gap in the sports industry did you identify, when setting up PT SportSuite in 2019?
A:
Sports organisations enjoy a level of loyalty that brands in other industries would kill for, but the need to transform digitally hasn’t evaded the sports landscape. In fact, in many ways the average sports fan gets a raw deal, with little in the way of innovation or incentivisation. Placing the fan at the centre of everything isn’t just a decision; it’s a mindset shift towards embracing technology in all aspects of the business to provide more for the supporters. This was our motivation; we felt it was the ideal time for us to positively disrupt the sports industry with one of the most advanced digital media ecosystems.

Q: If PT SportSuite “provides sporting organisations with the tools to become media powerhouses”, what is your relationship with broadcasters and rights-holders, and where do they fit into your ecosystem?
A:
We are a software and platform-as-a-service business, and so we believe we add value and collaborate well with media owners and broadcasters. We have partnered with broadcasters and media owners to facilitate additional monetisation of their media through our syndication and subscription platforms.

Q: What is Publisher’s Toolbox and what is its relationship with PT SportSuite?
A:
Before the launch of PT SportSuite, our team had spent the past decade working with traditional publishing and broadcasting groups to digitally transform their organisations. It was this digital transformation journey with some of these large media groups that helped influence the evolution of our product suite, the Publisher’s Toolbox, which comprises seven products. PT SportSuite is underpinned by the Publisher’s Toolbox product suite, which we designed in collaboration with our customers and partners, to meet an immediate process or cost efficiency role.

Q: As founder and CEO of these businesses, how hands-on are you and what are your focus areas?
A:
Due to COVID-19, I’m travelling a lot less and it’s easier to find time for more team planning and review sessions. I’m really grateful to our product team, and specialised engineers and creative designers, who all take on product ownership and pride in all they deliver. My focus areas are strategy, opening new accounts and partnerships. As a developer of nine years myself with a passion for brand and product, there are times I find myself getting into product details, especially if it’s an innovative new product requirement from a number of key accounts looking for a similar solution.

Q: PT SportSuite is based in Cape Town, yet seems to have more of a presence or more clients in the UK. Is that fair to say and is there any particular reason for this?
A:
We have clients in South Africa, the United States and United Kingdom, with in-country distributed team members. We’ve recently been awarded two key sporting accounts in the US and UK markets, so things are looking good and we plan to build on the positive momentum. These next few years are going to be extremely exciting. Through key relationships we will look to break new ground, and not lose focus on adding value to the sports industries within our operational territories.

Q: What impact has the coronavirus pandemic had on your business(es)?
A:
We’re blessed in that we have an existing product suite that allows us that agility to react and configure solutions for multiple use cases. COVID-19 has positively impacted our sports platform; I say this, because the architecture and configuration capability has allowed us to adapt and apply ourselves appropriately towards the market’s prioritised needs – of which digital asset management in the cloud, video OTT and mobile media distribution are some examples. The playing field has been turned upside down, and so clubs are needing to ensure the stability and reliability of digital services more now than ever.

Q: How has PT SportSuite responded and innovated?
A: More than anything else, professional sports organisations are in the content game, and with the suspension of live sport to combat the spread of the coronavirus, many clubs around the world were left with no option but to go into survival mode, with no original content to share to their digital properties. We developed SportMojos, a platform that would allow clubs to streamline the remote commissioning, collection and management of behind-the-scenes content from players, fans, professional content creators and more, providing valuable content which could then be shared with their fan communities in a way that is repeatable, simple and sustainable. SportMojos is a web and app-based solution that allows sports organisations to create private content creating teams of players, coaches, brand ambassadors and professional content creators, as well as public-facing campaigns for the collection of fan UGC content. SportMojos makes it possible for clubs of all shapes and sizes to capture behind-the-scenes community media which will attract new followers and engagement on social platforms, or provide quality content that can be monetised via your own branded digital platforms.

Q: Once sport in general is back up and running fully, post-COVID-19, do you anticipate change, in terms of how it is run, consumed, commercialised etc?
A:
The repercussions of COVID-19 will be felt for some time still, and it is those sports organisations who have taken the hard lessons to heart who will come out stronger on the other side. In the modern digital world, where fan engagement is more likely to occur on a social or web platform via mobile device than inside a stadium on match day, the world’s biggest professional sports brands have transformed the way they view what type of business they are – from sports clubs to modern media houses. These clubs have realised that building digital fan communities around exclusive content that brings fan engagement into their own digital platforms, opens up all sorts of revenue-generating opportunities, in the form of subscriptions to premium content, syndication, sponsored content and advertising.

Q: Which sports organisations – either local or international – do you believe are getting it right, in terms of using content to market and commercialise their product, and why?
A:
Not a sports organisation specifically, but a big player in the sports space – I like to reference Red Bull, who’ve been able to execute a sustainable, compelling content strategy effectively due to the platforms underpinning their collection, consolidation and redistribution of branded content. Red Bull’s sponsorship strategy (RB Salzburg, RB Leipzig, RB Racing) is more than a logo on a stadium or a shirt. They embed themselves into all that is the media and storytelling of the sports team and their members. Such sponsorship success and commercial return requires skilled and passionate content production teams and an advanced digital media platform.

Q: Where would you like to see PT SportSuite in 10 years’ time?
A: We want to grow the business and digital service offering over the next few years in partnership with sports organisations, be they clubs, leagues or federations. We want to collaborate as a collective to radically disrupt and digitally transform the sporting digital landscape of the future.

Dylan Rogers
Dylan Rogers

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