Sports fans nationwide have reason to cheer the latest additions to the Herald as it continues towards becoming the premiere Kiwi destination for rugby content. The Herald has upped the ante with a brand new rugby content and analysis site – underpinned by statistics and commentary from the sport’s top pundits – and relaunched its fantasy and tipping sports home with an entirely new game experience and brand.
With the February launch of the new rugby site, the Herald has boosted its coverage of the sport with all the tools and information casual fans and rugby junkies alike will appreciate. Featuring its own identity and design, there has been significant investment in enhanced content, along with updated live scoring, in-depth statistics and analysis, and an improved video offering. Content is carried through to the Apple and Android apps, along with the Herald’s mobile site.
Sports journalism is increasingly more data driven, with emphasis placed on the stats influencing analysis of favourite teams and players. In recognition of this increased importance, the Herald has partnered with OPTA – the official statistics supplier to the NZRU – to integrate team and player data into the site.
But stats themselves only tell half the story, and it’ll be up to the Herald’s columnists to interpret what the numbers say about the dramas unfolding on the field. To strengthen the side, the ranks of sports columnists have been bolstered and will receive continued promotion throughout the year. Adding to the current lineup of sports journos and rugby greats – Wynne Gray, Gregor Paul, Chris Rattue and Sean Fitzpatrick – comes former All Black Justin Marshall.
“The Herald has some of New Zealand’s top rugby writers and columnists,” says Sarah Kenny, APN’s general manager brand and comms. “So it’s only right that we give the best rugby voices in the country the promotion and profile they deserve.”
Campaigns and sponsorship
With the creation of its rugby home online, the Herald is touting opportunities for advertisers to connect with the male-skewed rugby-loving audience the site will bring. David Hoath, APN’s director of sales says existing campaigns and ad units will be “seamlessly extended” across the new site, but larger opportunities exist for partnership around various aspects of the sport.
“Whether it’s being the power behind the stats centre, the voice behind the success stories of grassroots and school rugby, or sponsoring must-watch highlights packages – brands will be able to pair their stories with the national game,” says Hoath.
Also on offer: in-depth content partnerships where brands may want to tell their own stories in connection with rugby, or investigate an area of the sport with content. Hoath says these sorts of partnerships can be presented via the Herald’s dedicated platform and highly engaged audience.
Alongside the rugby site, February also saw the re-launch of the Herald’s fantasy and tipping sports product. Newly rebranded as Dream Team, the site features a new design and functionality. It sports new versions of both Super Rugby fantasy and tipping games and is now home of all fantasy and tipping for sports including rugby league, basketball, and the English premiership.
The relaunched site offers new and returning players an enhanced in-game experience and a “major investment” in the prize pool, says Kursten Shalfoon, APN’s chief marketing officer. Significant investment has been made in the look, feel and functionality of the site, resulting in a richer experience for participants. The redesigned fantasy game will be first available in the upcoming Super Rugby and NRL 2014 seasons.
“New Zealand is a passionate sporting nation, and we like nothing better than having an opinion on how a game was played and how the players performed,” says Shalfoon.
“Dream Team Fantasy Super Rugby is the perfect place to step up and prove your rugby prowess, challenge your mates and put your opinions to the test.”
And as any fantasy sports player can attest, stats are vital when building your team. The OPTA partnership will be particularly beneficial here, where it will power stats for the Super Rugby season’s fantasy and tipping games. It means participants will have access to the same stats and analysis the All Black coaches do. Along with the latest rugby results and past performance breakdowns, the Herald’s columnists will add their commentary and interpretations – all feeding into users’ team and player picks.
Here too, the Herald envisions opportunity for sponsorship and advertiser participation.
“Content integration forms one of the key foundations for all the major Dream Team games. Along with the everyday sports content that forms the backbone of Herald coverage, articles dedicated to fantasy games will guide players of who’s in-form and who’s not,” says Shalfoon. “Allowing quality content to inform and shape your opinion – and then making decisions based on that – is what Dream Team is all about.”
Dream Team Fantasy Rugby launched in early February, with registrations now open at dreamteam.co.nz. The season kicked off on 15 February, with NRL fantasy and tipping games launched on 21 February.