NFL Team Drives Disruption in Sports with CenturyLink’s Help
No industry is exempt from digital disruption, including professional sports. Innovative networking technologies, applications, and media platforms are radically changing the game as we know it.
Since joining the NFL in 1976, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have grown their fan base to include an audience of millions of people from all over the world. But with digital transformation revolutionizing the way spectator sports are disseminated and consumed, the organization’s IT management team needed a single—and utterly reliable—network provider.
The Buccaneers and CenturyLink have had a long-standing partnership thanks to the relationship cultivated by Michelle Hogan, CenturyLink General Manager of Central, West, and South Florida, and her team. Through her leadership and with the support of the marketing team, they’ve been working together and providing expertise to the Buccaneers both on and off the field for the last seven years. Through staying connected and engaging in technology discussions, CenturyLink’s ability to be agile and adapt to the ever-changing needs in the market made this decision easy.
By choosing the CenturyLink global network, the Buccaneers consolidated its infrastructure and wide area network (WAN) under a single contract, both enhancing the team’s competitiveness and more wholeheartedly engaging its fans in the spirit of the game.
Digital transformation hits the sports world
Sports is no longer an experience limited to those lucky enough to possess a stadium ticket. Nor are fans forced to simply passively watch games that are conventionally broadcast on TV. Today, technology enables them to have total, immersive, and even interactive sports experiences from anywhere, at any time. Whether it’s the excitement of witnessing the plays in real time on a mobile device while at the beach, watching instant replays to examine the referees’ calls more carefully, getting up-to-the-minute statistics and expert analyses through a live video stream, or jumping into the fray of discussion via Twitter, fans now can have much, much richer sports experiences.
As the sports landscape continues to evolve, teams will have unprecedented opportunities to reach the masses with exclusive content from live streaming to virtual and augmented reality—bringing fans closer to the game than ever.
The Buccaneers football team has embarked on its digital transformation journey. Especially notable is where it started: with the enterprise network.
“The challenges that we were trying to resolve were that we had many networks spread throughout the world,” said Steve Rutkowski, network administrator at the Buccaneers’ headquarters in Florida. Managing vendors in varied locations created unnecessary complexities and delays. Not to mention, these disparate legacy network systems weren’t always reliable when communicating with fans, players, and employees.
The players themselves were affected by network problems. Both players and coaches at the Buccaneers’ training facility relied heavily on digital playbooks and other apps that they accessed via wifi. With mushrooming bandwidth requirements, the Buccaneers needed a consolidated network solution that could support both sudden, on-demand needs as well scheduled bursts of data requirements. For example, on game days, the network had to support 70,000 fans who would be logging onto the stadium’s wifi to receive game tweets, text alerts, play analyses—or perhaps just to check their email. The Buccaneers had to be sure not to disappoint.
CenturyLink had the answer
CenturyLink’s global network provided the perfect solution for delivering communications services to the entire organization. By selecting a mix of MPLS, internet, and voice offerings, the Buccaneers technology team consolidated their infrastructure and wide area network (WAN) with a single provider–CenturyLink.
Not only was CenturyLink able to provide the network in the areas that the Buccaneers already covered, it meant the team didn’t have to rely on a third-party vendor to provide the last section to network endpoints. The services that the Buccaneers selected and the network they designed now support centralized voice and internet communications between the organization’s global operations.
In addition to providing more consistent service and support, CenturyLink improved the Buccaneers’ return on investment (ROI) by reducing the need for additional capital expenditures (CAPEX) by having to replacing older hardware and software. It slashed operational expenses (OPEX) as well, as the older, multivendor network no longer required daily maintenance. And with CenturyLink, the team now enjoys increased flexibility and scalability — an important IT requirement for any spectator sports organization.
Ready, set, game
On game days, the Buccaneers are very preoccupied with winning. Now, with a core team of CenturyLink engineers and managers in the Tampa Bay area, they’re now able to leverage 24/7 local support on game days, as well as during the off-season. With CenturyLink’s scalable and reliable services in place, the Buccaneers are confident they can support high bandwidth periods, expand capacity and prioritize network traffic as needed. The combination of CenturyLink MPLS/IP VPN, CenturyLink Internet Services and CenturyLink Voice Complete helped streamline network operations so the Buccaneers could prepare for future growth.
“It is a great feeling going into every home game and knowing that the services will be up and that the fans will have the world-class experience they have grown to expect at Raymond James Stadium,” says Rutkowski.
This dependable infrastructure positively affects bottom line results as well. Departments can get their jobs done more quickly and shift focus to bigger, revenue projects. With an infrastructure designed for growth, the Buccaneers are now poised to exceed expectations—on and off the field.
Read more about CenturyLink’s unique solution for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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