"We started with an aim to revolutionize fan engagement and are now scaling high on multiple fronts" - Chintan Shah, director of content management, Sportz Interactive

Sportz Interactive
Sportz Interactive's journey elucidated by Mr. Chintan Shah

Asia's first sports-focused content and technology solutions company Sportz Interactive (SI) has over two decades of operational domain expertise. With over 500 "players" on their team, the company covers over 40 sports worldwide, with special emphasis on cricket, football, and kabaddi, aside from several other global sports.

Sportz Interactive has built a solid reputation over the years for its cutting-edge websites, mobile applications, hosted solutions, digital simulators, match centers, fantasy games, social media innovations, and content initiatives.

The company's vision is to "revolutionize the sports fan experience across consumption points by creating best-in-class products." Sportz Interactive has worked with a diverse range of clients from around the world, including the International Olympic Committee, UEFA, the NBA, Star Sports, and Pro Kabaddi, among others.

In an exclusive conversation with Sportskeeda.com, the director of content management for Sportz Interactive, Chintan Shah, discussed various aspects of Sportz Interactive’s journey, data and technology importance, fan engagement, and other details.

Excerpts from the director of content management of Sportz Interactive Chintan Shah's conversation with Sportskeeda

Q. Sportz Interactive recently completed 20 years in the industry. Can you take us through this journey as well as your experience with the company?

Chintan Shah: Sportz Interactive is a sports-focused digital solutions provider with a comprehensive portfolio of data, content, and fan engagement. Our products and services are used by various leagues, federations, broadcasters, franchisee platforms, and multiple stakeholders.

We began our journey in 2002 with like-minded individuals who felt that sports fan engagement needed broader development throughout the country. Initially, the company started with data collection and analytics for cricket. Over the years, we have expanded our portfolio to over 20 sports disciplines.

My journey with Sportz Interactive began in 2016 and so far, it has been a great learning experience. Having worked in multiple departments, I feel as a company we have scaled a lot, especially since the content business is booming and we are reaching a lot of audiences which has helped us reach a wide audience.

Q. Can you comment on the roadmap of the company in the coming years and any exciting implementations that could be in store for the audience?

Chintan Shah: Despite an evolving process, whatever implementations take place is structured by keeping the fans at the center of it all. That has been the narrative for Sportz Interactive all along. We have enhanced match coverage by creating match centers where the audience is provided with rich storytelling through data visualization while fans engage with numerous features provided by us.

With regard to fan engagement, our company has developed an app and website framework that provides seamless integrations with all the products that the company has to offer. It is a plug & play module where users reach the products they wish to possess quite easily, ensuring a hassle-free process. Moreover, we have built free-to-play games that scale across various sports.

Content-wise, we started with long-form editorial content for websites and have now evolved to provide end-to-end creative digital services that include strategy, content creation, and video production. However, our major focus remains first-party data collection because we believe that data will play a huge role in the years to come.

Q. What kind of data and technology offerings does Sportz Interactive provide to leagues and associations that they are involved with?

Chintan Shah: Sportz Interactive provides a variety of technical solutions with fan experience, the center of it all including fantasy games, predictors, play-along, polls, and votes. We also provide in-depth data-driven widgets that not only serve alongside digital properties but also as overlays on OTT platforms. Thus, we provide a varied range of products and services for the various leagues and associations with whom we are involved.

Q. What kind of implementations did the company make to adapt to Covid-19 protocols and restrictions? Can you take us through that process of surviving and thriving during the pandemic?

Chintan Shah: Covid-19 was a challenging period for the whole world and when the pandemic hit, the company kept the physical and mental well-being of the employees at the center of its importance. Sportz Interactive was one of the first companies to shift to a remote working environment and was one of the last to restart the normalized offline office environment.

The company was quick to adapt to the remote working setup so that the client's work is not hampered. We also redefined processes and implementations on all fronts in quick succession.

Adding to that, our company has looked to stick to the culture that it has followed for years. Thus, we created online versions of office events that would normally happen offline and kept the mental well-being of all our employees in check.

Q. What kind of process does Sportz Interactive adapt to while working with the IPL holistically as well as team-specifically?

Chintan Shah: We generally work with a large ecosystem during the IPL that includes teams, broadcasters, brands, and the league itself. This is the busiest time of the year for us as a company and we feel privileged to work with key stakeholders in India's biggest league. Sportz Interactive covered the last season of the IPL from our office and the work environment is amazing, so to say.

Our team feels privileged to be an extension of the team playing on the ground and we are happy to play a role in the success of delivering and executing such a massive event.

Q. Technology and data innovation have been primed to be the next big thing. What does it hold for tech-driven firms such as Sportz Interactive, and how can we see its implementations?

Chintan Shah: Sportz Interactive has been using data and technology to drive innovation for a substantial period. This includes our company providing plenty of data-driven products and services such as data-integrated video products in the form of video metadata tagging, automated video highlights using artificial intelligence, automated video graphics, and deep-data analytics.

Thus, all of these solutions are expected to soon be a part of the sporting world.

Q. How do you feel fan engagement has evolved over the years and can you comment on the constant change in consumption of fans with different sports?

Chintan Shah: Back in the day, the consumption for the fans was mainly broadcast with minimal digital data access available. But in this day and age, digital data has taken center stage when it comes to the consumption of fans. An entire generation has skipped TV and their major mode of consumption is through mobile phones or laptops, which has had a huge impact on fan engagement.

Sportz Interactive has created a mobile-first approach with regard to both technology and content. Also, the evolution of videos has had a huge impact, where reading articles has been replaced by watching videos online, encouraging us to adapt our strategies accordingly for new-age sports fans.

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Edited by Dinesh Renthlei
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