Just before COVID-19 began its slow march across the globe, Orlando-based HotSwitch had entered into a partnership with Applicaster, a global media app company whose clients include the Spanish equivalent of the NBA.
HotSwitch, a StarterStudio accelerator grad, had begun a launch with Liga ACB, the Spanish national basketball league, when COVID-19 cases in Spain began to skyrocket, making it one of only three countries, now including the United States, with more cases than China.
“As a result, we lost a little bit of communication with them because they all had to go work from home, they all had to scramble,” said Andres Aranguibel, HotSwitch CEO and co-founder. “But they reached out immediately after getting situated and asked us to push a new feature, which is for live trivia, much quicker than we had anticipated.”
Like many sports leagues and event producers around the world, Liga ACB needed to quickly find new ways to connect with their audience. HotSwitch offered them a tool to leverage the social engagement of their fans while the country was on lockdown.
“Obviously, basketball games are no longer happening live, so they are trying to figure out how to align audience engagement in a time when there is no new content,” Aranguibel said.
An audience-interaction engine for mobile, web and smart TV apps, HotSwitch has been key to Liga ACB’s effort to provide Spanish basketball fans with media streaming of past games along with new live components such as chats, polls and trivia.
“If you go on their app in the app store, you’ll be able to watch a popular game from a couple of years ago. And they have the live chat feature turned on, with their marketing team participating in the conversation. They’ll throw out questions and polls and just chat with fans in general,” Aranguibel said. “This is a direct-to-consumer play for the league. They’re able to launch their own content on the app.”
Aranguibel likens the trivia feature HotSwitch offers to a popular app-based trivia contest that launched in the United States in 2017 called HQ Trivia, which recently resumed after a brief hiatus.
“You’re seeing a full-screen video. At the top of that video, you’ll see a presenter or a host who will ask you questions, and you can tap on the right answers and follow along and potentially win prizes,” Aranguibel said. “We built it out in such a way that it’s a standalone SDK, so that the experience can live inside of any app.”
Aranguibel is in talks with other event organizers and a major international sporting event about how to help them hold onto their audience during the period when live events are suspended, as well as beyond when HotSwitch can help them monetize fan engagement over various digital platforms.
“If there is anything that this pandemic has done that can be seen a positive for the industry, it’s just that it’s pushing people to innovate and scale significantly more every day to deliver content to audiences that allows them to have a similar level of engagement as they would in a real-life scenario.”