The World Bridge Federation announced an exciting prospect in Bali: the Chinese software gaming company Ourgame has made its wish known to purchase the exclusive broadcast rights to all WBF World Championships and is willing to pay a substantial sum to obtain them (the number was not made public – presumably it is open for negotiation).
Currently, Bridge Base Online (BBO) is the chief broadcaster, with most broadcasts in English and occasionally in a local language. BBO broadcasts many events worldwide from World, Zonal and National Championships, to invitational events, Trials and events of local interest. Currently, Ourgame broadcasts bridge only in Chinese.
BBO has taken over as the world’s leading online bridge-playing and bridge-viewing site, offering sanctioned games, a meeting place to practice, and bridge lessons, as well as their extensive calendar of VuGraph broadcasts. This is so because BBO has created the markets and performed better than anyone else.
For we bridge journalists and fans of the game, it’s currently a pretty good situation.
We can log in to BBO at any time night or day and usually find a broadcast from somewhere or, if not, one is coming soon. Now we are in danger of losing some of that facility. The WBF needs to tread very cautiously with Ourgame. Here are some of the things that need to be considered:
i.) BBO needs to be offered the opportunity to respond and make a counterproposal.
ii.) Ourgame must be able to prove that it can do the job fluently in English. For example, their website is currently solely in Chinese.
iii.) Ourgame must make its plans for broadcast known in detail, especially how it plans to recoup costs. The WBF should make its plans for the revenue public.
iv.) Historical files need to be kept where they can be easily accessed by system users.
The WBF needs to treat the Ourgame proposal in a professional, businesslike manner, looking at it from the standpoint of:
i.) Proof of Concept – Just as for any business system.
ii.) Request for Proposal – Others need to be given the opportunity to bid.
iii.) Testing – As with any business or computer system, before it can be put into production, detailed module and system testing, as well as user testing by a range of people with varying skill sets and interest needs to be done.
iv.) Trials – A staged, step-by-step implementation with any software vendor is important: in the case of bridge broadcasting, this would mean allowing one championship at a time.
v.) Security – The WBF has a responsibility to be certain that the software downloaded to play or view bridge is free from spyware, malware and other nefarious bugs.
This can all be accomplished by the WBF engaging the appropriate business people, systems people, security people, software people and end users for evaluation, building and testing. Engaging a professional project manager would be a start. Fortunately, in the bridge world, there are lots of prominent and successful people who are willing to help.