At a glance

  • 34% YoY increase in user base
  • 3 Million average weekly users
  • Significant increase in engagement from fans via NRL app

Top of their game

The National Rugby League (NRL) is Australia’s top-level domestic men’s rugby league competition. It contains clubs from the original Sydney club Rugby League competition, which has been running continuously since 1908.

Today the NRL has over 5.4 million fans in Australia and its digital network is a hub for all things rugby league. The NRL Premiership attracts about 3 million people to its matches, with more than 100 million viewers on television. Content production is one of the NRL's key functions as they now see an average 100’s of million sessions and almost double in page views per year.

Complex technology infrastructure

With 19 websites and 7 non-web digital properties such as social media, mobile applications, and over-the-top service, NRL receives 4 million visitors per week across its channels.

NRL's decentralised technology infrastructure was holding them back. The old platform had multiple external tools for content management that were not integrated. This created a disruptive workflow, especially for the content team, due to the lack of seamless processes to develop and optimize content across different digital properties.

The lack of advanced integrations and features also meant that there were limitations in the type of content and experiences it could provide to its fans, along with the analytics and intelligence to make the right decisions within their content production lifecycles.

The lack of sophisticated features also meant that NRL was publishing blanket content and unable to understand the data behind its campaigns and promotions. Engaging content is subjective: without a customised or personalized experience, great content can seem haphazard. With no proper data in the mix, it’s a recipe for poor traffic and engagement. Domenic and his team knew that this needed to change.

"We needed to connect our content and data together into a central publishing platform from across our business in a way that allows us to produce highly valuable user experiences, giving the NRL network the capability to offer targeted content and commercialisation solutions," said Domenic Romeo.

We produce a significant amount of content daily and needed a technology architecture that allowed us to perform this at scale across a network of 19 organisations including NRL, our Clubs and States.

Domenic Romeo
Head of Technology, National Rugby League

Unifying technologies into one platform

To get better control and visibility into its online operations, NRL transitioned all its sites to a consolidated Optimizely Content Cloud solution. This gave it a robust, unified and cost-effective CMS, instead of an expensive, overly-complex, legacy technology architecture.

One of the most important things was to create a seamless workflow by consolidating NRL's owned technologies under a single platform. This has tremendously improved work efficiency within the organization and removed a lot of work duplication. For example, content syndication was simplified, as the new platform allows the content team to easily create and repurpose each piece of content depending on the medium to be published, such as mobile and TV apps. 

The tightly integrated network and intuitive user experience made it easier for NRL to navigate the new CMS. The Optimizely Content Management Platform provides ease of use from creating to publishing content, enabling NRL to post instantaneously, especially when it comes to breaking news. Searching for assets can be difficult especially when there's no proper system in place. However, the Optimizely Search & Navigation function made it easy for the content team to locate assets. While these features may sound simple, they can significantly affect an organization's productivity.

2 rugby players

Harnessing data for a competitive edge

Data has now become an essential part of NRL's online engagement to maximize its digital efforts. Every piece of content is now focused and tailored according to NRL's audience segment, leading NRL to double the size of its audience and significantly increase engagement. The content team can also monitor visitor engagement with different websites to better understand their online behaviors.
“It’s a very fine system which is easy to use. It was clearly well set up with a lot of thought going into it. The drop and drag functions make it easy to use and compared to other content management systems it is head and shoulders above the rest that I have used in a few previous newsrooms” says Paul Suttor, Editor in Chief

Using the Optimizely CMS has made a significant difference. From increasing team productivity, to reducing infrastructure complexity and ultimately driving traffic and engagement. A robust CMS can help an organization grow.

"It has been a game-changer for us centralising our architecture around the Optimizely CMS platform. It helped the organization to focus on work that really matters rather than managing complex technology architectures. Now we can better analyse visitor data, generate insights and improve our future and current digital initiatives to fit user demands. All the content we produce is much more targeted and valuable, driving higher engagement. We couldn’t have done this on our old systems, moving everything to a single platform has been critical,” said Quanah McBride, General Manager – Digital Technology & Operations

Read the National Rugby League 2020 Annual Report here


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