IM chat with Andrew Lundy

Ouimet: So how do I know this is the real Andrew Lundy and not some kids screwing around on the computer?

Andrew Lundy: LOL.. hopefully the force of my overweening intellect will come through in the IM.
And my employee number is 100001319

O: So how did you get started at the CBC and what do you do there now?

AL: I started at CBC in 1998 as Marketplace’s online content manager. Moved to sports in 2000. Right now I’m the senior producer for CBC Sports Onilne, soon to be officially renamed CBCSports.ca.

O: The whole thing will be renamed?

AL: Probably. I know it’s titled that now, and most of the promos call it that. Likely by fall even the URL will reflect that.

O: I saw that with cbcnews.ca too. Why would they make those new web addresses?

AL: It’s apparently a plan to create news, sports and arts portals that highlight everything CBC does in those veins.
I can’t speak about the philosophy behind the others, but with cbcsports.ca, it’s very much about the brand.

O: So the online portal is making a comeback?

AL: I think so. With sports, it’s a way to concentrate the resources of CBC in a way that showcases our strength in sports.. that includes sports news, features, TV and radio coverage, and all the platforms we deliver that stuff on. Country Canada, Radio One, podcasts, wireless, online, and of course TV Sports, have strong representation now.

O: And CBC.ca/sports just went through a major makeover. I assume it was part of that?

AL: That’s right, all part of the plan.

O: It’s a lot better.

AL: I like it a lot better too.

O: What bothered you the most about the old site?

AL: The old site was basically a monoculture built around text-based news. There was virtually no video, not much show promotion/info, and it was very hard to shoe-horn in non-news features like pools, contests, that sort of thing.

O: How popular are those pools, anyways?

AL: Immense. Our hockey pool this year was averaging more than 2 million page views a month, six-figure uniques, and was very sticky.. lots of people returning several times a week. We peaked at more than 50,000 sign-ups for the first round. And we expect that to be just the beginning.
ESPN, Sportsline, Fox, their pools are both major sources of traffic and revenue. We’re viewing them now as almost essential parts of a vibrant sports site.

O: I always imagine there’s a lot of high-stakes gambling going on behind the scenes at CBC Sports

AL: Dunno about high-stakes.. we’re still paid under the current CBA, y’know!
But there’s a lot of poolies. Our unit is heavily into fantasy baseball, and there were small leagues created for the hockey pool in the department.

O: So who planned the revamp and who actually did it? was it an in-house job?

AL: The revamp was a collaborative effort. I’d been wanting this for, literally, years. Me, Christos Nikitopoulos in TV Sports, our project manager Philip Whitcombe, graphic lead Adam Clarkson, Jon Dube and the consulting firm Usability Matters all played significant roles.
Philosophy-wise, this was, at its heart, a product of Christos and me collaborating.
I hope that doesn’t sound too boastful.

O: What was the main goal? To get away from the text-based site?

AL: No. To supplement the text-based content. I’m very proud of our text-based stuff. Our Torino site, which was largely text, won a CNMA award for best news and info site in the country, and I’d stack our content up against anyone of our competitors, including TSN.ca, Sportsnet, the Globe, Canoe.. even some of the AmNets.

O: Ok ok now you’re getting boastful.

AL: LOL
The goal was to bring the whole CBC Sports experience online. Since our new agreements with sports bodies like the NHL, FIFA and MLS include video, we want to offer people that. And we want to be more interactive, so we’re beefing up user-generated content and forums, as well as adding contests and pools and games to the mix. The end result should be a complete sports experience, beyond the stories and stats.

O: So how is the feedback so far? And how are you getting it?

AL: Feedback is mixed.. not a lot, really, and it comes from Audience Relations. Some say it’s too busy, some say why’d we change? some say it’s better and clearer and they like the wider page.
We got a lot of good feedback when we started adding video in earnest in the early spring. This site makes it easier to look at it and find it.

O: Yes, the wider page. Finally!

AL: Yes, welcome to the late 20th century!

O: And the whole thing was “years” in the making, but not really years, right?
A lot of that was planning and thinking?

AL: That’s a good way of putting it. Many of the elements I’d have loved to have years ago, but the actual plan started, probably, late last year as a ‘what if?’ exercise. But it wasn’t until Steve Billinger restructured cbc.ca and Scott Moore took the helm of Sports that changes really started happening.
There was lots of planning and thinking, but a LOT of action in a short space of time. Very refreshing.

O: Shorter turnaround times are the product of the restructuring?

AL: So far. TV Sports has taken the lead on a lot of this, and they have a very pro-active attitude. If something can be done, then just get it done. They take risks (wise risks) and learn from their mistakes. Our streaming video launch was a microcosm of that attitude. Some growing pains, definitely, but we’re now on par with TSN.ca, which has been doing this for at least four years.

O: I have to ask becuase I have a ot of friends who live overseas…
Every time I talk to them they ask me why they can’t watch the Stanley Cup online

AL: One of our most common complaints, for sure.

O: Oh really?

AL: Sure. Our agreement with the NHL is for Canada only. NBC and Versus wouldn’t like it if someone in Boise was watching an HNIC broadcast online, eating into their customer base. Ditto for someone in Sweden (although I don’t know who’s broadcasting competitively there).
I understand the frustation, though. We’re sending this online to a population that can watch it on main net and in HD.. why give them online? But it’s the way of the future and our numbers were, I’d say, solid for a first-time, and for games that were played in the evening (not online’s prime time by any means).

O: So that’s that?

AL: For now, that’s that. I don’t know of anyone who has global rights.
Not for anything major, anyway.

O: Why doesn’t the NHL sell a subscription a streaming site of their own making?
So people could pay to watch?

AL: You’d have to ask them. Major League Baseball sure does, and they do a fantastic job. But each league is different, and maybe there’s a different philosophy at play between the two leagues.
Remember, this is like TV in the early 50s.. Playhouse 90 wouldn’t work today, and Edward R. Murrow ain’t no Katie Couric.. lots will change as we learn and try new things.

O: Yeah, I got the idea from Baseball. Maybe I’ll try to sell it to the NHL.

AL: Go for it.. get me some royalty action, ok?

O: Do you think Sports has a firm place in a public broadcaster?

AL: Absolutely. Anyone who knows about Canadian culture, cares about Canadian culture, cannot dismiss the importance of sports here. Our top shows ever are sports shows: Grey Cup, Stanley Cup, Summit Series. Most of CBC.ca’s top stories ever were sports stories: Perdita Felicien, Cindy Klassen, Todd Bertuzzi. If there’s one thing the public broadcaster should be into, it’s sports. Nothing, not politics, not economics, not even entertainment, connects Canadians with each other more powerfully.

O: Yet, you know and I know that some CBCers are what you might call “lukewarm” towards sports.

AL: That’s putting it mildly. There seems to be a sentiment that sports is for the unwashed masses, that it’s beneath the CBC to do it. I haven’t met as many people in one place that know less about sports as I have at CBC.. it’s like saying “I don’t like music.” Not country music or hip-hop.. “I don’t like music.” What is THAT? Yet I hear it all the time.
Worse, people act on that ignorance. If they don’t like it, or know it, it must not be important.

O: Do you think people see a web address on TV and then go to their computers and type it in?

AL: I know it. We have data that show it almost every time. Take our 3 Stars poll on HNIC: when the show promotes it, we get thousands of votes per game. When they don’t (and this is after we’ve been running it for weeks) those numbers drop off dramatically.
Ditto for our Olympic content. When we started getting targeted throws to features, stories, newsmakers, our traffic jumped accordingly.

O: You think they use a computer and TV at the same time?

AL: More and more. There’s a lot of good research out there, from Pew, from Forrester, that shows this is increasingly the case. It’s all part of people controlling their media. I do it myself, although maybe I’m atypical.. been called that before.

O: I find myself doing it more and more.

AL: It’s how I watched the last federal election.. think of it. a sports guy watching politics!

O: Yes, you don’t strike me as a Sports guy. I thought you would be more like Don Cherry.

AL: I do have facial hair.
I didn’t start as a ‘sports guy’ but I’m now painted that way by a lot of my colleagues. I studied political science, graduate international affairs and journalism. You wanna know about intermediate-range nuclear weapons? Talk to me.

O: You ever chat on the IM with Don Cherry like this?

AL: We do a couple of chats a year with Don, especially for Hockey Day, and I’m the one on the phone with him. He’s a great guy, very generous with his time, very quick-witted. I think he’s one of CBC’s gems.
I don’t think he’d know what IM is… just a hunch.

13 comments:

  1. Anonymous
    Posted June 15, 2007 at 8:05 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Since when do they let IM happen @ CBC?

    I thought we were flying under the radar. Next thing you know they will allow *gasp* video chatting.

  2. Johnny Happypants
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 3:45 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    OK…more than 33,000,000 Canadians have never been to cbc.ca so I’m not sure why my tax dollars are going to support a website that isn’t a lot different from TSN’s or Sportsnet’s. If sports is so important to Canadian Culture as a whole, why isn’t this site providing information about sports broadcasts on other networks at least as a service. Just CBC and Country Canada. And speaking of CC…when did their license change so they could go from showing Canadians how to churn butter to being The-Family-Channel-On-Acid?

    Their new schedule of HBO shows not good enough for Showcase to pick up, CBC Inventory Clearance Specials, and C List sporting events has me scatching my head. This could be the new Toronto One.

    Lots of Love,

    JH

  3. Anonymous
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 12:59 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I LOVE LUNDY!

    I true stand-up guy that knows his stuff, knows the CBC and how it works. His team is killer and most of them have stuck by him over the years and have contributed both alot of heart and talent to that department.

    Lundy is an example of a good manager. CBC.ca should have been more careful about letting some of the other ones go.

  4. Andrew Lundy
    Posted June 13, 2007 at 8:29 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Just to follow what Kevin said, he’s right. There was a long list of people who made this happen, and they’re perpetually unsung. And I just contributed to that, didn’t I?

    But the person he’s referring to is Alan McLean, who was indeed driven to the edge by the short timelines and design demands. He did an outstanding job and certainly earned all the therapy and psycho-active medication he now needs just to get by.

  5. Kevin
    Posted June 13, 2007 at 12:28 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I worked a bit on the operations side of the implementation, and I can say that Andrew was definitely around for that phase, and for the design phase, and for the last frantic getting-content-in-place phase. He definitely should be around for the cigars and hearty-slaps-on-the-back phase too.

    In terms of said implementation, the team for that was pretty large, so if he was to give props to everyone he’d probably be as well off to just refer people to the staff directory. But a shoutout should definitely go to a shy and nameless IE who was almost driven demented by those bleedin’ slanted tabs!

  6. Allan
    Posted June 13, 2007 at 10:15 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Keep up the good work, Tod.

  7. Andrew Lundy
    Posted June 13, 2007 at 10:13 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    To Anonymous at 9:14am:

    I appreciate the hate, but you should at least know what you’re talking about.

    Let’s start with the leave. Nothing “mysterious” about it. It was a medical leave, and if you’re interested, drop by my office some time and I’ll show you the information from my doctor and HR. And it was for five weeks, not “months.”

    The implication that I just disappared while all the real work happened, then reappeared to take credit, is just absurd. We all did a lot of work on this before my leave, others (especially Dan Tavares) picked up the ball for me while I was away, and when I came back it was a top priority for me to help get this thing done.

    Besides, I never took credit for “everything.” I named a bunch of people who were principally responsible for the design, build and execution. I also said “philosophy-wise, this was, at its heart, a product of Christos and me collaborating.”

    As for badmouthing, sure, we all do that. You just did that here, and anonymously, I might add. But I don’t badmouth everyone around me. Just people like you.

  8. Anonymous
    Posted June 13, 2007 at 7:14 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    funny

    lundy goes around bad mouthing everyone around him for years, then disappers on mysterious ‘leave’ for months while this was happening, then takes credit for everything

    so typical

  9. Tod Maffin
    Posted June 13, 2007 at 6:08 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Hi Anonymous #2. ;-)

    I’d LOVE to interview people “in the trenches” and ask folks all the time, but 99% of them say no. Seems a lot of average trench-workers are afraid of speaking out.

    So consider this an invitation — if any CBCer has something they want to say, let me know!

    I do think it’s important, though, to ask real-world questions to the executives, since a lot of them are used to speaking through carefully manicured news releases only.

    For instance, yesterday’s email from the President was all about the upcoming privacy and FoI legislation… but it really didn’t contain many details.

    So I’ve asked for an interview with someone who knows the nitty-gritty on how that’ll affect the average CBCer.

    As for making myself look good, that’s what the “squeeze horizontally 10%” effect in Photoshop is for. ;-)

    Tod

  10. Anonymous
    Posted June 12, 2007 at 5:33 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Ouimet, I just want to say I really enjoyed this. Sure it’s a kinder gentler Teamakers, but you’re the only one out there with an audience who will ever pay any attention to the unsung (or mostly unsung!)

    I like Tod too but he interviews bigwigs to make himself look good. Only you would take thetime and effort and give the space to make the people in the trenches look good.

    Thank You.

  11. Bill Lee
    Posted June 12, 2007 at 5:15 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Where’s the visuals of Lundy waving his arms in the air and stroking his beard?

    We gotta have visuals–this is the CBC and TV is paramount!

  12. Anonymous
    Posted June 11, 2007 at 9:26 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I like the format.

    The content is a little… Maffin.

  13. Allan
    Posted June 11, 2007 at 7:54 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    S U P E R B
    shows there’s a lot to be said for the written/text interview
    in the right hands, of course
    so good
    there you go, Ouimet, charming another one


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