Over the last month, more than one and a half million people gathered at Somerset House, a sports center in the heart of London, with their faces painted in their national colors to cheer on their team in the Rugby World Cup. For those who can’t see the action in person, or who want to be part of an online experience too, Heineken created the Rugby Studio, a website that features live game broadcasts, exclusive interviews and interactive content.
On the site, people can respond to polls about things like which player they’d like to have a beer with or who they think is going to win the match. Former England captain Will Carling is hosting discussions about the games featuring Rugby World Cup Legends such as South Africa’s Rugby World Cup winning captain John Smit and former Australian captain Rocky Elsom.
Earlier this year, Heineken started planning the building and hosting of the website with my team at POSSIBLE London. The tournament was right around the corner, and we needed an efficient solution that scaled based on the load. In just eight weeks, a two-person team — a full-stack developer and one designer — built the Rugby Studio using Google App Engine and Firebase. App Engine acts as our centralized platform that automates content from multiple sources, while Firebase acts as our real-time content distribution platform for international markets, allowing us to target specific content based on the demographic.
App Engine’s ease of use allowed our developer and designer to work in close collaboration and truly mesh their ideas. For example, the designer brought a simple concept to the table, and the developer expanded that idea into something more elaborate since Google Cloud Platform gave them the speed and agility to do so. We did this with the tweet feature. We only wanted to publish tweets about the World Cup (#ItsYourCall) on the website, excluding all of the other posts published by the Heineken handle. Google Cloud Platform helped us provide relevant social content at scale. The content on Heineken’s social channels has received more than 24.4 million impressions.
It’s hard to predict what the traffic for the Rugby Studio would be at any one time, so we needed to prepare for large volumes and fluctuations. We can handle the fluctuating and demanding computing workload with App Engine and are confident that our thousands of users receive tweets, images, videos and other updates in real time – because when the score changes, fans want to know that instantly.
To date, more than 165,000 people have visited the Rugby Studio, and that number continues to grow as we get closer to the finals. We wouldn’t have been able to build, configure and host an application — and have the confidence that it could scale — without Google Cloud Platform.
- Posted by Mandhir Gidda, CTO UK, POSSIBLE London