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Teaching with Online Video Takes SKLZ

You can have a great product that's useful to millions of people, but sometimes buyers need a little explanation on how it works. That's one place where online video can really help out.

Business is booming for SKLZ (pronounced "skills"), a maker of athletic performance and skill development training products based in Carlsbad, California. It earned $23 million in revenue in 2009 and is on track to double that in 2010. Still, says Scott Curry, the company's director of marketing communications, people's first question on seeing SKLZ equipment is often, "So, what does this do?"

"Our products really require that people see how they're used, which is different that most in the sporting goods industry," says Curry.

To help answer people's questions, SKLZ is turning to online video. For all its business success, SKLZ hadn't done much with online video prior to this year. The company had previously uploaded a few videos to its website, but wasn't working with a distribution network. In 2009, however, the people at SKLZ began to see the value of educating customers with online video, and started thinking about the kind of solution they'd like to offer.

Since the company planned to grow its video library rapidly, it wanted a solution that organized videos intro groups, rather than showing them all in the same playlist. It wanted something with channels, where basketball players could zoom in on videos appropriate for them, for example, and golfers could do the same.

Curry spent the winter months of 2009 and 2010 investigating solutions and talking to other companies that used video on their websites. SKLZ soon decided on Delve Networks for reasons that were equally technical and personal. Delve's APIs set it apart, says Curry, and Delve shared its APIs with SKLZ prior to signing a contract. The SKLZ development team was able to create SKLZ.tv, the company's video area, using those APIs.

Delve's customer service was also a major factor. Curry sensed that his company wouldn't be nickel-and-dimed at Delve. He could also see that Delve would be there to support SKLZ throughout the process; they wouldn't disappear after the contract was signed. Curry singles out one of the support team in particular, Huw Morgan, a senior product manager, as being especially patient and helpful.

SKLZ.tv launched in March, 2010, with approximately 15 videos, and already has over 100. It streams adaptive bitrate Flash video for most users and H.264 videos for iOS devices. Since launch, the company's videos have been viewed 224,400 times, for a total of 5,030 hours and 40 minutes of viewing time.

Delve was acquired by Limelight Networks in August, but the service that Curry enjoyed hasn't changed. And Morgan is still there to take his team's calls.

"We're very happy with what was built and how our hand was held during the build-out, and that's why we haven't had any technical issues or any complaints from users. It's been a good experience," says Curry. "I know we went with the right company."

Troy Dreier's article first appeared on OnlineVideo.net

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