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Published 2024-07-04

VG’s EM-profeten: Behind the scenes of a record-breaking login-success

VG’s EM-profeten has become a sensational hit, captivating football fans across Norway and setting new benchmarks for user engagement.

The success of this interactive prediction game for the UEFA European Football Championship (EM) can be attributed to the innovative minds behind its development.  We spoke with journalist and editorial developer Jarle Brenna and editorial developer Sondre Nilsen in VG to delve into the creation, challenges, and future of EM-profeten.

From idea to reality

The idea for EM-profeten was conceived in 2016 when editorial developer Øyvind Engan proposed the name and the concept. Initially, the idea was to create a tournament bracket where users could submit their predictions and see potential matchups in the knockout stages. This quickly evolved into a full-fledged competition. 

Jarle Brenna, Journalist and editorial developer at VG.

Gard Steiro, our Editor-in-Chief, suggested adding private leagues, which significantly boosted user engagement,” said Brenna. 

Steiro himself has performed impressivjarely in these competitions, placing fourth in the 2022 World Cup version. 

Many suspected he was cheating, but we can confirm he does not have access to change the results,” Brenna added with a chuckle. This year, Gard has been surprisingly weak in EM-profeten. Perhaps the Schibsted company split has taken up too much of his time.”

Record-breaking engagement

Since its inception, EM-profeten has grown exponentially. At the end of the group stage, the platform saw 190,000 users submitting tips and 22,200 private leagues created. 

We can feel the championship fever! After the last football championship in Qatar, which was overshadowed by many non-sporting issues, it seems people are really ready to enjoy football again,” remarked Frode Buanes, VG’s Sports Editor, in a recent interview with Medier24

This surge in participation led to EM-profeten becoming VG’s largest editorial login success ever. However, handling such a massive influx of users has posed significant technical challenges. 

Sondre Nilsen, editorial developer at VG.

We had to upgrade our infrastructure to manage the unique pages each user accesses,” explained Nilsen. The team developed a scalable solution to handle the traffic, ensuring minimal downtime and swift score updates. The biggest challenge is managing the traffic and ensuring the system doesn’t slow down when everyone checks their points after matches,” added Nilsen.

The developers also shared insights into the technical demands of the platform. 

We get little help from traditional caching solutions because the service relies heavily on unique user data,” Brenna noted. 

Despite these hurdles, the platform has maintained smooth operations with very few user complaints.

Strategic importance

The success of EM-profeten aligns perfectly with VG’s strategic goals. Understanding the users allows VG to provide pertinent editorial content and targeted ads, which is crucial for the strategy. The integration of EM-profeten within VG Live, their live sports coverage service, has made it an essential part of VG’s comprehensive coverage of the tournament.

Looking ahead, the developers see potential for scaling the service to other events. VG has previously run similar competitions for the World Cup and the popular TV show ”Maskorama.” While there are plans for further improvements, Brenna chose to keep specific future enhancements under wraps. 

We have a list of improvements requested internally and by users, but we’ll reveal them when they’re ready,” he said.

The developers also shared some fun anecdotes about user engagement. 

“Many companies, including Widerøe, have created their own leagues, leading to such high participation that their IT support had to assist employees with the platform. This level of engagement underscores the widespread appeal of EM-profeten,” said Nilsen.

But EM-profeten is more than just a game; it’s a testament to VG’s innovative approach in blending editorial excellence with interactive technology. As the platform continues to evolve, it sets new standards for user engagement in the digital media landscape.