Infront on massive critisism : ”It’s only for a fraction of the fans that the problems occur”

Handbollsligan Live and Handball Kanalen are the two new platforms that handball fans in the Scandinavian countries can use to watch games in Handbollsligan and the Champions League. But so far the headlines have mostly been about the platform not working properly and the price being too high.

Please be advised that Handball Kanalen and Handbollskanalen have nothing to do with each other and should not be confused. Handbollskanalen was founded in Sweden in 2015. Handball-Kanalen is Infront’s new streaming platform for the Nordic markets.

– We are listening to all the concerns coming in. We are working hard to investigate all the issues and hope to have it solved as soon as possible, Merav Savir, Head of Marketing at Infront Lab, says to Handbollskanalen.

The first game on the new platform was between HK Aranäs and IK Sävehof in Handbollsligan Dam, over one and a half weeks ago. After that, a few more matches have taken place, not only in the Swedish domestic league but also in the Champions League.

What do they have in common? Technical issues and fans that are upset with the platform not working as it should.

– This is the start of a new project and it’s a very ambitious one. We are listening to all the concerns coming in. We are working hard to investigate all the issues and hope to have it solved as soon as possible. We are dedicated to this channel and to the fans and want to make it as good as possible, says Merav Savir, Head of Marketing at Infront Lab.

People are very angry and frustrated with the quality of the platform. Comment?

– We are dealing with everyone who is contacting us one by one. I don’t want to generalize. We do have thousands of people watching on the platform smoothly. The majority of viewers had a good viewing experience, and those who voice concerns we are speaking with one-by-one. Delivering five outputs (apps, tv app – iOS, mobile web, desktop) is ambitious but we only saw issues on Apple TV – which we are looking into with Apple.

The image quality is not up to standard, it’s hard to access the site, and it’s hard or impossible to cast from phone to TV. What can you say about those problems?

– We urge everyone who comes across those problems and needs guidance to reach out to our customer service. They are there to help and in the past few days, we have seen improvements.

Are your servers not good enough or why are there so many technical issues?

– I am not a technical person myself so I would rather not go into details. But I know that the team investigating it. The team is working tirelessly to solve this for the fans. We use the best-in-class servers and, from our test, we believe this is not the issue. However, we are still looking into this and, to reiterate, numbers are small compared to the total number of viewers. We are committed to delivering the best possible service for handball fans in the Nordics and fully believe this platform is the way to do that, regardless of the challenges we may face. It is our intention to investigate any issues to ensure we deliver the highest quality broadcast for fans in the region.

– Our support and development teams are working tirelessly to identify the causes of these issues and fix them as soon as possible so viewers can enjoy matches without any interruptions.

Has the platform not worked as well as you would have hoped?

– I wouldn’t use that phrasing. New projects take time and we are growing. We are seeing that it’s only for a fraction of the fans that the problems occur – it’s working well for many fans. We are just in the beginning and looking forward to a very good season.

When can you have the technical issues taken care of?

– At this point, I can’t give you a time or a date. The team is working around the clock on identifying the issues and listening to customers.

– Our development team is looking into this and have solved some of the users requests already.

How will you compensate customers when the quality of your product is not good enough?

– We urge customers to contact our support if they have issues. And then they will work out if it warrants compensation.

Could you be more specific as to when the issues are taken care of and how you will compensate customers?

– As explained, we are dealing with the technical issues and hope to have them fixed soon. We take each customer’s experience on a case-by-case basis so there is no “one-size-fits-all” compensation. Our support and dev team is working hard to solve all issues.

Another part of it that people are very upset about is the price. Can you explain why the price is so high?

– In the lead-up to the season we analyzed the market and the platform to understand risks and to determine the right pricing. And I can also say that we are working with the clubs in Sweden to offer promotional codes to fans, meaning discounts of 20 percent on yearly subscriptions. We want to find a way to find better pricing.

Why are customers paying for a full-year subscription when there are only matches being played for 9 months?

– There will be fresh content during those months even though it’s not games. There will be content for the fans no matter what.

The platform for the matches in the Champions League you have named Handball Kanalen. Can you explain the reasoning behind the name?

– In the four countries there are different languages but the one thing in common is Kanalen for all countries and that’s why we chose that name. And handball everyone understands.

At your website it says ”A global leader in sports marketing”. ”Unmatched event experiences”. ”Engaging content. Inclusive communities.” Do you think that you have lived up to that on the Swedish and Scandinavian market?

– Infront is considered one of the global leaders in sports marketing. We have a history of creating unmatched event experiences and engaging content for inclusive communities, it’s something we’ve been doing for several decades now. Like all new initiatives, it comes with its challenges. We’re actively listening to concerns.

– It’s worth noting that there has been plenty of positive feedback, particularly around the opportunities for further commercial gains. Female clubs, for example, see huge potential in increasing their exposure through this platform. Likewise, clubs are enjoying the fact that fans are receiving a larger variety of video content including VOD, highlights and behind the scenes content.

Why have you decided that it’s only possible to watch one game at a time?

– We are using the best practices and are happy to look into this later based on the feedback.

It’s been a while since potential customers could start signing up for the platforms. How many subscribers do you have today?

– It’s still at an early stage of the season so it’s too soon to provide numbers. But we are optimistic about the potential and the reach. It’s a huge market.

How many cancellations have you seen so far?

– A small handful have unsubscribed, but we’re finding most people are sticking with the platform and showing faith.

If things are not going as well as you would have hoped, how much patience do you have with the market?

– At this moment there is no reason to comment on whether or not it’s going as well as we would have liked. We are very optimistic. There is no question of us not having patience. We have invested a lot into this and remain committed to making it a success for all stakeholders, including fans.

Can you end the partnership with Svensk Elithandboll (SEH) at any time during these 5 years?

– We don’t comment on the specific details of our agreements with our partners.

In Sweden there has been a lot of talk about the deal between SEH and Infront and that it’s a very good one financially for the Swedish clubs. Would you agree?

– We’re in constant dialogue with the clubs as this is a new way of doing things. As for if it’s a good deal, for us we are committed to delivering the best platform and we are working with the clubs to deliver that. You’d have to ask the clubs if they believe it is a good one financially.

How much money has Infront invested into this deal?

– That is a great question and I wish I could answer but we tend not to answer that.

In Sweden, there will be a studio in place for the first time this season on Friday I heard. How many more games will have studios in arenas this season?

– We’re evaluating the use of a studio this week. We know it’s a key part of the fan experience but we wouldn’t want to speculate on how many arenas will welcome them this season. We are working closely with our partners to deliver the best experience and will share more info later on.