“The fan will find the content”
October 4, 2023
Photo: Dyn Media
By J. Schuetz
August 23, 2023 marked a new beginning for German handball fans, when Dyn went live with the coverage of the PIXUM Supercup between THW Kiel and Rhein Neckar Loewen.
Handball aside, Dyn will showcase basketball, volleyball, table tennis and field hockey and offer fans a unique experience on one single platform.
stregspiller.com spoke with the CEO of Dyn Media, Andreas Heyden, about the start of the new streaming platform, what convinced him to unite with Christian Seifert, the former DFL boss and why Dyn will fill a void at the right time.
Do you remember the day when you were first confronted with the idea and concept of Dyn and what was your first reaction to it?
AH: Very good question. It was during my time at DFL – Christian Seifert, the managing director at DFL at the time, introduced me to the concept.
The idea was based on the fact that all kind of sport rights became available at the same time. Recognizing this opportunity and having the courage to build a new product, fascinated me from the start.
The world I was in at DFL for seven years, I learned one thing: the fan finds his content.
For example, a fan of badminton, will find his way to the platform that broadcasts it. The idea to combine the various sports from the second and perhaps third tier on one platform and to turn it into a pay product appealed to me from the very beginning.
Was this the point when you concluded – yes, I will go for it?
AH: The crucial point was even earlier, before my time in football, when I was involved in sports such as basketball and wrestling. Back then, I already recognized that a certain number of people will always have a distinct interest in something else and once there is critical mass, a product can be built on top of it. That’s what fascinated me as it is aligned with our vision of building a “home of sports” here at Dyn, where the fan will find the content.
How long did it take until the key positions in the new company were filled and how difficult was it to convince the staff of the concept?
AH: We have two factors at work. First – sustainability and purpose are integral parts of our value system. Ten percent of our sales we give back to the various leagues, to promote youth sports. Sustainability is key, as we don’t drive around in broadcast vans using diesel fuel and less people will have to travel to the various production venues. In addition, we have implemented a new type of remote production concept.
Finally, we focus on values – specifically the value of change, the value of creativity. Considering these factors, it made it relatively easy to provide a home for people who were already passionate about sports. Someone who is a handball commentator suddenly has a place where he or she is valued, where he or she can earn money – a place he or she is enthusiastic about.
It was more challenging to fill vacancies which cannot be directly derived from the fascination of sport like jobs in data or technology. In general, we had a year and a month to get it all together and it took us a year and a month to get it done.
How satisfied are you with the launch of Dyn so far?
AH: Per se I’m always dissatisfied, but I have to say I’m relatively satisfied at this moment. The feedback we get from customers shows that we are on the right track. People appreciate the live program and the apps. We also know that we still have some areas that require more work.
How will you measure success in the first year, besides how many customers Dyn will reach?
AH: The most important question will be, how do customers behave once the season is over? Many of them have booked annual subscriptions. Will they re-new their subscription? The answer to this question will be the ultimate confirmation whether customers are satisfied with the product or not.
The second objective will target “engagement”. How will fans interact with us on social media. Will they like, and/or comment once we engage them? Will we receive positive feedback from them? For me, this will be as important as extending reach.
How important is handball at Dyn?
AH: Each sport has importance for us. Handball certainly attracts the largest market because the sport has the largest number of fans, followed by basketball and the others.
In Germany, handball is primarily associated with men’s handball. Will Dyn aim to promote women’s handball and push federations or leagues to do more?
AH: First, we don’t hold the direct rights to the Women’s Handball Bundesliga. It’s only a sub-license. So, we don’t have a direct relationship with the league where we could potentially have some influence.
Having said that a media partner is well advised to create reach, create eyeballs, and present women’s handball in the same way as men’s handball, but the development of the sport is the competence of a league. The Handball Bundesliga must decide how to distribute the funds – the money we give back – to the clubs.
Dyn doesn’t set parameters in this regard?
AH: The money goes back directly to the leagues in support of their funding concepts.
In handball Dyn will deal with an older fan base compared to basketball. What are the objectives to introduce and inspire a younger audience to the sport?
AH: On the one hand, I would not underestimate the older customer. Netflix has reached the mainstream of society and grandparents send photos of their grandchildren using WhatsApp. Today, we have an older generation that is already very experienced in the digital world. They will have the opportunity to watch their handball game on their preferred devices such as cell phones and smart TVs. Previously they were tied to the Sky decoder and to only one place in the house where they could watch handball.
Secondly, handball must become part of pop culture. Children – not just in Kiel or Flensburg – must talk about handball or should be able to talk about handball. That’s where social media helps. We launch 5 to 10 stories a day or videos of trick shots. These are mechanics that also worked well in football.
During the first game of the women’s handball league, you experienced some technical difficulties – how worried are you that such problems will be associated with Dyn, even though Dyn only holds a sub-license?
AH: In terms of our standards, it’s OK that we are judged by it. We at Dyn must make sure that the delivery channels are in working order. We must work with our partners, who provide us with the video signal and that we receive it error-free. I see myself right in front of the customer, as the first point of contact.
If we want to move the various sports forward, we can only do this together and we have to be careful not to get bogged down in the details but keep the eye on the big idea.
Dyn will rely on some experienced handball commentators, as well as some new talents. What was the thought process behind the personnel selection?
AH: Diversity is extremely important to us. We want the young and the veteran commentators to gain their experience in front of the customer. We have a lot of fresh talents who will tell the stories – starting with social media, to how we do a halftime show, to how we do commentary. We offer entry points that other media don’t offer.
We are on a journey that will last several years and where we’ll give the faces of the future a chance today.
To what extent do you have time to follow innovations in other major sport markets, such as in the USA?
AH: Making time for it is crucial. Attending conferences and exchanging ideas with people from professional networks, maintaining this network, understanding where trends are heading, which way technology is developing, what is successful – all of this is important.
To what extent do you think handball will develop synergies alongside entertainment and fashion? Basketball seems to be the trendsetter.
AH: I think it’s more in basketball than in handball. That’s what I meant when I said before that handball must become part of pop culture. The clubs are also asked to reinvent themselves.
What Dyn can offer is attention. We are happy to take up all ideas and stories and give them the appropriate reach.
What sport rights will Dyn acquire next?
AH: We are currently well positioned.