NFL, IBM kickoff content management deal

IBM Corp. and the National Football League Wednesday announced a three-year agreement to develop a new content management system for the league based on Big Blue technology and built by its services arm.

The goal of the partnership is to create a central digital warehouse for all of the NFL’s many media assets, including audio, video, Web content and statistics. This content is generated and used by the league’s NFL Films division, broadcast network partners and teams.

"The goal is to identify all the assets that we have in various locations and develop an agnostic way to aggregate content and distribute it," says Peter Brickman, senior director of operations and technology for the NFL.

Right now, the two groups are working together on scoping out the project and seeing what areas need addressing first. Brickman says the planning stages should last about six months with development taking about another year before the average NFL fan really benefits from the project.

One application that is taking shape involves customers of the NFL Sunday Ticket Package from DirectTV and a TiVo personal video recorder. A system will be in place that will deliver game highlights to TiVo customer’s each Monday morning during the season. "Next year or the year after, we want to make it more interactive by letting the viewer choose teams, players or (specific) plays," Brickman says. "But right now we’re developing the back engine stuff to provide that."

Today, some content is still moved around using physical media. When this project is complete, the NFL will be able to manage and share its resources with its partners in a digital fashion. IBM plans to use its DB2 Content Manager and Universal Database software at the heart of the warehouse, with the company’s tape storage systems, x- and pSeries eServers handling the processing and storage load.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but IBM is getting some sponsorship opportunities as well as the rights to use the NFL and Super Bowl logos in its marketing. IBM will also be a "charter advertiser" on the NFL’s new NFL Network station that premieres in November.

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