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How the power of sports content killed the Voda/Sky merger

The Commerce Commission has given its full statement of reasons for blocking the planned merger of Vodafone NZ and Sky saying it believes the merged entity’s power over premium sports content would kill competition in both the fixed broadband and mobile markets. The Commission announced in February1 that it would block the merger on the grounds that it would be likely to lessen competition by creating a strong vertically integrated pay-TV and full service telecommunications provider owning all premium sports content. In its full — heavily redacted — 145 page statement2, released on 13 April it noted that the merged entity would control the rights to broadcast all New Zealand premium live sports content: rugby, cricket, NRL and netball until at least 2020.

Furthermore, the commission considered it likely that the merged entity would continue to control the rights to this premium live sports content after they come up for renewal.

It also considered that the nexus between premium sport content and broadband and mobile services could only strengthen over time. “There is evidence suggesting that premium live sports content will increasingly be viewed over the internet in the future as broadband and mobile services and pay TV converge,” it said.

“As this happens, we consider that consumers are likely to value more highly bundles containing both content and the means to deliver that content (broadband and mobile).

Bundles offered by a single supplier such as the merged entity are likely to be even more attractive to consumers who view their content and broadband and/or mobile services as closely related, if not as one and the same thing.”

The commission concluded that the merged entity “would be uniquely positioned to exploit changing consumer preferences by offering bundles that bring together pay TV services and broadband and/or mobile services.”

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References

  1. ^ announced in February (www.computerworld.co.nz)
  2. ^ 145 page statement (www.comcom.govt.nz)
  3. ^ PAY-tv (www.computerworld.co.nz)
  4. ^ Sky (www.computerworld.co.nz)
  5. ^ Vodafone (www.computerworld.co.nz)
  6. ^ mobile (www.computerworld.co.nz)
  7. ^ broadband (www.computerworld.co.nz)
  8. ^ Commerce Commission (www.computerworld.co.nz)
  9. ^ Vodafone (www.computerworld.co.nz)

Gaming is becoming a real sport in South Africa

Competitive gaming has seen a massive increase in popularity over the past few years, both internationally and in South Africa. Games such as Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive have helped take eSports to an international scale, with gaming tournaments surpassing conventional sports in viewership and prize pools. South African eSports has seen steady growth, and although the local scene is not as large as in countries like the US or Sweden, competitive gaming is on its way to becoming a real sport locally.

eSports

A big contributor to the rise of eSports was the growth of live streaming platforms, the most notable of which is Twitch[1].

Once gamers could watch their favourite teams compete in tournaments from anywhere in the world, viewers of gaming competitions began to snowball and teams quickly developed into professional businesses. International professional gaming teams are now run in a similar fashion to football clubs, with players being bought for ridiculous sums of money and transfer periods for set tournaments and leagues. Gamers also earn celebrity status within their community, with many becoming overnight millionaires and landing expensive marketing deals.

Valve’s eSports documentary Free to Play: The Movie[2] does an excellent job of documenting the personalities of the competitive gaming world. Both Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are popular competitive games in South Africa and Valve has provided South African servers so local gamers can compete in official matchmaking. There are numerous other tournaments within the South African competitive gaming scene, too, and South African competitive gaming teams regularly travel to Europe and America to compete in tournaments.

NiP eSports

SuperSport

eSports is no longer confined to online live streaming and has made many appearances on TV channels, including ESPN. South African sport channels have also become involved, with SuperSport debuting its first eSports event in March last year[3]. Since then, numerous gaming tournaments have appeared on SuperSport, and the GINX eSports[4] channel is set to launch this year[5] on DStv and SuperSport’s website.

This, as competitive gaming looks to become a regular feature alongside conventional sports such as football and rugby on both TV and online platforms. While SuperSport does not regularly broadcast local eSports tournaments, this may change as the local scene continues to grow. Supersport logo blue

Local tournaments

In recent years, the South African competitive gaming scene has seen a massive amount of growth.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2 quickly became two of the most popular competitive games in the country, and tournaments began to see larger prize pools with fiercer competition. Telkom’s Do Gaming League underwent a rebranding to create the Digital Gaming League[6], which hosted the country’s first R1-million eSports invitational tournament. The DGL Masters Series saw eight of South Africa’s best competitive teams compete for their share of the massive prize pool in both CS:GO and Dota 2.

More recently, a new South African eSports studio named Mettlestate has partnered with Samsung and Asus to host a R1-million tournament[7] for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Mettlestate aims to align local gaming competition with standards set by international authorities and has partnered with Twitch to grow the local eSports scene. As more money is invested in South African eSports and it is given more exposure, local gamers are beginning to earn enough to become professional competitors.

According to eSports host Paul “ReDeYe” Chaloner[8], regular prize money and increased publicity are the most important factors influencing the growth of competitive gaming in South Africa.
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National Colours

Although most of the interest in local gaming lies with multi-gaming organisations like Energy Esports and Bravado Gaming, competitive gamers compete in school as well. When playing against other schools or provincial teams, students can earn colours for competitive gaming.

Students can earn Regional, Provincial, National, and Protea Colours, which are awarded by Mind Sports South Africa – the national controlling body for numerous sporting disciplines.

The number of people interested in eSports worldwide is constantly growing and while conventional sports may be more popular at a school level, the increased investment and interest in professional gaming means it will one day be a serious contender against other sports in South Africa.

Now read: rAge Cape Town cancelled[9]

References

  1. ^ Twitch (twitch.tv)
  2. ^ Free to Play: The Movie (www.youtube.com)
  3. ^ last year (mybroadband.co.za)
  4. ^ GINX eSports (ginx.tv)
  5. ^ set to launch this year (mybroadband.co.za)
  6. ^ Digital Gaming League (www.digitalgamingleague.co.za)
  7. ^ R1-million tournament (www.mettlestate.com)
  8. ^ Paul “ReDeYe” Chaloner (mygaming.co.za)
  9. ^ rAge Cape Town cancelled (mybroadband.co.za)

The decision-making spine structure – how to ensure the best results for customers

Making real-time decisions in software development is tricky, but enabling the right team members can make the process more agile. Traditionally, businesses employ a top-down management structure, with one person making all the necessary decisions. “The problem with this approach is that it results in micromanaging and creates inefficiencies through deferred decision-making,” says redPanda Software[1] CEO Gareth Hawkey.

“At redPanda Software, we do things differently – we implement a decision-making spine structure. In a team of 9 or 10 people, three of them are enabled to make real-time decisions.” Hawkey likens this to the decision-making structure of a rugby team, where the coach is involved with the long-term strategies but is not involved in making decisions while the game is in play.

The captain of the team is more involved in the game itself, but even he can’t affect every decision-making point during the game. Rather, specific teammates, such as the fly half and scrum half, make most of the decisions that affect the game in play. “Essentially, only 5 or 6 people make 90% of the decisions during the game, so the idea is to equip those key players,” explains Hawkey.

At redPanda Software, there is a spine in the business structure that allows those who are technically skilled in making decisions on the fly. The spine includes the tech lead who is the most senior developer on the team, the tester who is responsible for the quality of the code, and the business analyst who is responsible for making sure the developers understand what the customer’s specifications are. “We need very strong individuals in those three positions – people who understand the company’s vision and overall strategy, such as meeting all customer expectations on time,” adds Hawkey.

“They need to be mentored very well, must buy into the process, and they need to be developed technically as well, and in turn, they improve the efficiency and quality of our products.” This method assists redPanda Software in upskilling developers interested in advancing their career along the managerial track into positions with more responsibility. It is a great transition, providing experience in decision making that affects the team without impacting the overall business.

“It also creates a better environment for the whole team, as they feel part of the process rather than just contributing,” concludes Hawkey.

“They can see how important it is for the whole team to understand the goals and vision of the company, and they better understand their role in helping to achieve those goals.”

For more information, and to apply for developer roles in Cape Town, visit the official redPanda Software website[2].

This article was published in partnership with redPanda.

References

  1. ^ redPanda Software (tracker.mybroadband.co.za)
  2. ^ redPanda Software website (tracker.mybroadband.co.za)