All you want to do is watch Barcelona take on Real Madrid in the latest El Clasico encounter on beIN Sports, but alas, life is not making things easy. Perhaps your kids are watching yet another episode of that cartoon that both confuses and somewhat scares you. Maybe your significant other is refusing to fork over the remote for whatever reason(s). You feel stuck, relegated to watching the match either via the beIN mobile app or, even worse, through an illegal stream that goes in and out throughout the match.
Those at beIN believe they have the solution to this particular problem.
What is THE GAMECHANGER?
The beIN SPORTS GAMECHANGER is equal parts ridiculous, unnecessary, and awesome. On the surface, the device looks like your basic vuvuzela, the horn that was made famous during the 2010 World Cup. Look inside, however, and you’ll notice a switch in the bell end of the instrument.
That is where the magic all begins.
Flipping that switch activates the tiny microphone located in the horn’s bell. An 8-bit microchip that is inside the horn picks up the vuvuzela sound, and when that occurs, a message is sent from the microchip to your cable/satellite box. Then, in an instant, the channel changes from whatever is airing on TV over to beIN Sports.
I met with Tim Masek and Edward Rogers from the advertising agency TBWA Worldwide at Manhattan soccer pub Nevada Smiths on March 25 to test out THE GAMECHANGER. I can confirm, upon witnessing multiple demonstrations in person, that the device works, and that it works on multiple boxes at the same time.
That’s right. One could, in theory, change every television at a pub or sports bar over to beIN Sports with one forceful exhale into a horn. The boxes don’t even have to be inter-connected. So long as the bell of the horn is pointed toward the TV box as you blow into the vuvuzela, THE GAMECHANGER will work.
Why the need for THE GAMECHANGER?
After seeing with my own eyes that THE GAMECHANGER is legit, I had to ask the obvious question:
Just how in the hell did beIN Sports come up with the idea to convert what is maybe the most obnoxious thing in world football into a television remote?
“beIN Sports in an international sports network,” Masek explained, “and they are competing in a very tough market. They are competing against the likes of ESPN, NBC Sports and FOX Sports. Those companies have what (American sports fans) want. They have the NBA. They have the NFL. When it comes to soccer, NBC has the Premier League.
“beIN Sports has soccer from La Liga, Serie A, and Ligue 1. Fans of those leagues are sometimes spoken of as being the ‘stepchildren’ of American sports fans. Those fans tend to be overlooked, and thus they need to make a lot of noise to get themselves out there and get themselves noticed.
Future of the GAMECHANGER
beIN is currently responsible for two US TV sports stations – beIN Sports (English) and beIN Sports en Español (Spanish). At the product’s launch, THE GAMECHANGER was programmed to be compatible with Time Warner Cable and DirecTV boxes.
“We may make another round,” Masek stated, “and try to make it accessible to all other television providers.” One new aspect of THE GAMECHANGER, were it to take off, would be to make the horn compatible with both beIN Sports and with beIN Sports en Español. As of now, only beIN Sports is recognized by the microchip that is inserted into a GAMECHANGER.
THE GAMECHANGER is not yet available to the public, as beIN Sports first want to gauge fan interest in the product. The company is asking for fans to visit the official GAMECHANGER website. From there, click the “Get In Line” tab at the top of the screen and then fill out the information boxes that appear on the page.
The plan, as told to me by Rogers, is to wait and see how many responses beIN gets on the GAMECHANGER website over the next month (the viral campaign for THE GAMECHANGER kicked off on the morning of March 21) before moving forward with any other plans for the product. “We would love to have 10,000 responses,” Rogers said. “We’re off to a really good start, and we’ve seen a very positive reaction.”
Rogers explained to me that part of beIN’s plan is to visit soccer pubs located in New York City to experiment with THE GAMECHANGER. They have already met with some of the crew at KICK TV, a soccer-related YouTube channel which is headquartered in Manhattan.
With great power comes great responsibility, teaches the old adage, and that is very true of THE GAMECHANGER. After all, taking the horn into a bar on a NFL Sunday just because you’d rather watch Juventus vs. Roma over American football could end rather poorly for you. The passion that fans of the beautiful game have for the sport played a significant role in the birth of the product.
“People are passionate about their teams,” Masek said. “Sometimes there is tension, and that is what we are playing off of right now. It’s the beauty of sports.”
Rogers added: “beIN has a very dedicated fan base, and they are serious about international sports, particularly soccer. For us, this is us simply saying ‘we understand your passion, and we share that passion with you.’ THE GAMECHANGER is the perfect manifestation of that passion.”
The responses beIN has gotten to the product are hidden from the public, but I was given a quick peak at some of the gems. Included in those were:
– An adolescent male who fights with his three sisters for television time, one who is a diehard soccer fan and doesn’t want to wait and watch matches via DVR.
– One poor guy who has been subjected to far too many “chick flicks” on weekends.
– Last but not least, some just think that the idea of being able to change a channel by blowing a horn is cool.
It’s not easy being a soccer fan while living in North America. You often don’t get to sleep in on weekends, and that is especially true if you live on the west coast and want to watch your favorite club take the pitch. Stations that show live matches, beIN included, may cost extra money depending on your television service provider.
Sure, it is a marketing gimmick, but THE GAMECHANGER also provides fans with a tool to express their love for the game in a unique and boisterous fashion.