C4 Horse Tracker

Connecting horse racing fans with
the Grand National in real-time

Background

How do you take live sports data and turn it into a simple consumable product for a casual fan of horse racing? When Channel 4 acquired the rights to the Grand National (2013), they asked Monterosa to help. They wanted the team to ideate and develop a second-screen experience for the event. One that would allow its unique audience the chance to experience the race as never before.

Challenge

The Grand National is a race like no other, it's a mass appeal one-off race with a large number of runners. Our research into user behaviour showed one major user problem when watching the race on TV:

Where's my Horse?

My Role

  • Product Design & UX Lead at Monterosa

Responsibilities

  • Development of proof-of-concept prototype
  • User research and subject deep dive
  • Stakeholder interviews and presentations
  • Ideation workshops
  • Iterative experience design process
  • User flows, wireframes and storyboards
  • Collaboration with design director over UI
  • Collaboration with tech and production team over development

Process

Early on in the project we got access to positioning data of a recent horse race. Playing around with the data we realised we could use it to visualise and simulate the entire race. I built a little prototype using ActionScript to test this theory. Deploying the prototype onto an Android device, we showed it to the client who instantly wanted to take the idea further.

We realised that if we could use live positioning data alongside a broadcast race we could offer TV viewers something truly unique.

The Grand National seemed like the perfect fit, C4 had just won the rights to broadcast it and wanted something special to go alongside. It was decided that a second screen app was the ideal thing.

Not being a big horse racing fan I immersed myself in horse racing culture as much as I could. I also conducted interviews with people who would usually bet on the National to find out why and how they picked their runners.

It became clear that, as the National had lots of runners, unless you bet on one of the favourites it was unlikely you'd ever be able to see your horse. Fixing this issue became the backbone of the final app. We wanted anyone to be able to follow any horse in real time.

Over the next few weeks, we went through many design iterations where I worked on defining how the app would work. I would regularly present these ideas to the client and help them understand how it would behave.

The most challenging problem was solving how we could ensure perfect sync between the data and the broadcast delay in the TV signal. I was determined that the users should be automatically synced without being asked to perform complicated UI tasks.

Outcome

When the App launched in 2013, it had over 165,000 live unique users during the Grand National race. It was also the number #1 free App in the App Store that weekend.

Horse tracker was well received by the viewing audience and praised in the press. Viewers loved its ground-breaking and award-winning innovation.

It has since returned for both the 2014 and 2015 Grand National. It continues to bring viewers closer to the action. It continues to allow them to keep an eye on their favourite runner.