How we make the game clear for ESPN
“It’s best to play simple,” Johan Cruijff said.
Actually, this also applies to software: the best software
does what it’s supposed to do and is fast and clearly structured.
Customer interview: ESPN (Fox Sports)
20 april 2021 - Hilversum, The Netherlands
“It’s best to play simple,” Johan Cruijff said. Actually, this also applies to software: the best software does what it’s supposed to do and is fast and clearly structured.
Without unnecessary fuss. And that was exactly what ESPN (Entertainment and Sports Programming Network) was looking for four years ago, when the sports channel was still called FOX Sports. What ESPN needed was a system in which you could easily create an interface for all employees, with all the necessary information available at the click of a button.
"Software must adapt to the company.With the FileMaker platform create a customized package of apps that can grow with the wishes of the customer."
Willem-Jan KempenProduct Owner ESPN & Founding Partner
Clogged mailboxes and misunderstandings
“Until mid-2017 we used countless Excel sheets for sharing information. We had one sheet for the schedules, another one for satellite connections, a separate e-mail with broadcasting instructions… it became a complete mess,” says Vincent Burgers, Broadcast Operations & Facility Manager Sports at ESPN.
“All those files caused clogged mailboxes, a lack of overview and circulation of wrong versions of schedules. Also, people could not quickly see where they needed to be, without opening all kinds of emails and folders.
We run a 24/7 operation and television doesn't wait, so it's essential that you have your information in order. You don't have time to dig through your mailbox or look for that sheet of instructions. What we were looking for was one overarching system in which everyone would have access to the correct, up-to-date information. I heard FileMaker was a useful platform for this, so I looked online for a software developer specializing in FileMaker. Kempen Automatisering (Automation) appeared at the very top of the list. The company appealed to us, so we invited them for an interview.”
"The software’s ability to grow with the company was of great added value for ESPN."
Vincent BurgersBroadcast Operations & Facility Manager Sports ESPN.
Software must adapt to the company
So why did Kempen Automatisering specialize in FileMaker? “With this platform we can create a customized package of apps that can grow with the wishes of the customer,” explains founder Willem-Jan Kempen. “That's essential.
We believe that the software should adapt to the company, not the company to the software.” This ability to grow with the company turned out to be of great added value for ESPN. Vincent explains: “Four years ago, our wish was simply to be able to make a clear schedule for our final directors, so Kempen built that module for us. Over the years, however, we developed the need for more modules, such as Connections, Broadcast Reports, Incidents Reports and Daily Info.
This way, the small system has slowly been rolled out into a large system in which all apps are linked together.” Robert van Heusden, Project Coordinator at ESPN, illustrates how this works in practice: “If one of our Operators is on an Eredivisie service, all necessary information is linked, from reports to manuals, satellite data, phone numbers and email addresses. In case of incidents, he can use another module with which he creates a report. We receive the general reports on the broadcasts of the past 8 hours three times a day.”
Smooth and fast service
In 2017 ESPN started with one FileMaker portal for the final direction of ESPN (then FOX Sports) in Hilversum. Six months ago, a second portal was added for the ESPN office in Amsterdam, the portal for the so-called Talents: the voices and faces on television. “The planners and field producers use this new portal to schedule our hosts, commentators and analysts, such as Hélène Hendriks, Toine van Peperstraten or Ronald de Boer,” says Robert.
“Via the web application of this portal they can check for themselves when and where they are expected. As with all software, things can sometimes go wrong. Recently, the names of the people who had already been removed ‘got stuck' on the schedule. Not a total disaster, but if a director who should have been there doesn’t show up because of this, the consequences would be dire. Fortunately, Kempen solved the problem very quickly. Because the show must always go on, we have an excellent service agreement with Kempen: if something doesn't work, it’s immediately resolved that same day - even on weekends.
In addition, we have a subscription for the further development of our software, so that the apps always remain in line with our current wishes. That works really well: if we ask for something, it can often be arranged the following week. This isn’t the case with most other developers. In short: the relation with Willem-Jan is very pleasant and flexible. We are in close contact with each other and he takes the time to think along with you. An excellent choice for a dynamic company like ours!”