The National Rugby League (NRL) is a top-level domestic men's rugby league club competition and Australia’s most entertaining and popular sport, attracting over 100 million viewers on television each year. Founded in 1908, the NRL runs the world’s premier Rugby League competition, which comprises 16 teams.
The Challenge: Build vs. Buy
In 2017, the NRL launched their new Digital platform servicing all Premiership teams and States. All published content, from media workflow and management, to video playback, user interface, and data integrations was hosted under one centralized platform. The NRL’s previous internal digital services allowed push notifications for match time alerts and scoring events; however, anything beyond that was outside of the publishing workflow. With over 19 separate organizations running under the NRL’s Digital platform, the Technology team at the NRL required a seamless integration pipeline method that could allow relevant messages to reach opted-in users about various topics of interest, such as their favorite team or breaking news.
Prior to using OneSignal, the NRL lacked a scalable, full-source communication and messaging platform that could reach app users from a more personal level. Domenic Romeo, Head of Technology at NRL, had previous experience developing push notification services; however, doing so came at the cost of valuable time and ongoing maintenance, let alone the multi-platform delivery support that would be required for both Android and iOS devices. Instead of adopting previous systems, the NRL wanted to find a push service that allowed the team to deliver at scale and establish a more automated and personalized communications channel for their most loyal fans.
Refining the User App Experience
By partnering with OneSignal instead of re-building an internal solution, the NRL team was able to focus their time on building out their communications strategy, which heavily focused on refining the user app experience. Their goal was to drive better engagement by focusing on sending higher quality, personalized content to each rugby league fan, increasing relevance for each touch point, and reducing generic messages that wouldn't resonate with fans.
The internal team at the NRL was given the bandwidth focus on the content strategy, while OneSignal's product provided the easy-to-use tools to allow for audience segmentation, easy utilization, and seamless integration. The immediacy of OneSignal’s push notification service also helped NRL to restructure its publishing pipeline to hone in on timeliness. Rugby league fans who were interested in exclusive content became the first to know about the latest sports news, and this often led to over 1 million monthly active users consistently returning to the NRL network to stay up to date.
“OneSignal’s in-app messaging feature is fast becoming a go-to when needing to deliver important messages to fans. We like this feature as it allows an extra level of engagement with the fan while they are within our mobile experiences and provides the flexibility to do this without the need for any app releases. We are seeing fantastic results with fans and partners who are enjoying the extra interaction within the apps.”
OneSignal and National Rugby League
As the sports world has evolved to become more technology-focused, leveraging push notification was a key pillar for the NRL to go beyond their traditional forms of user engagement. OneSignal-powered notifications became the driving force behind two core objectives for the NRL — increased relevancy and message personalization.
The NRL continues to be one of the most popular sports leagues in Australia, with millions of fans across the country. Push notifications became a critical component of the organization’s content strategy, and after hitting a wall with their previous internal tool's functionality, the NRL required a proper solution that would help them engage with fans in a more personalized and real-time way. With core messaging features such as in-app messaging and geo-location targeting now at hand, the NRL trusts OneSignal as a key partner to driving future user engagement.
“The real driver to getting our fans engaged is the content that we put out and the way in which communicate with them. OneSignal has been one of the key tools enabling the NRL to develop that engagement with our fans.”
If you’re considering the question of build vs. buy for messaging, download our in-depth guide on both options for push notifications and in-app messaging software, including a guide on how to conduct a successful proof of concept to validate your decision.
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