Friday, January 18, 2013

Speed Channel BJ2013 Fantasy Bid FAIL

It never ceases to amaze me.  You can have a multimillion dollar media company with production resources second to none and they'll still cheap out on the IT department.  Case in point, the 2013 Speed Channel Fantasy Bid webpage for the Barrett-Jackson auction coverage. 

Now I know it's just a webpage but it's one of the primary promotional vehicles (pardon the pun) for Speed's auction coverage.  They've offered the online fantasy bid for most of the past decade so you'd expect they'd have all the wrinkles out by now.  At least you'd think so...
It seems this year something's gone wrong.  In prior years 10s of thousands of fantasy bids from auction fans were handled without incident.  This year during the Thursday and Friday broadcast the system frequently failed with a fraction of that number.  Friday and Saturday are high viewership days but the problem started almost immediately upon the start of the Fantasy Bids on Thursday. 

If it were just a vanity contest it wouldn't be a big deal but the Hagerty Fantasy bid offers multiple tiers of prize offerings with a grand prize of a new Shelby Mustang.  That makes it a contest which suddenly makes easy participation paramount.  Considering you're forced to opt-in to sales communications to play there is an effective transaction of sorts.  That means players have the right to expect to access to the game in exchange for extra spam in their inbox.  An expectation not met acknowledged by a popup once I was finally able to log in on Friday.

Remember, I'm an IT guy so I have some idea about web servers and capacity planning.  That said, my assessment is that they've either outsourced the back end processing for the game or they've made a major change that nobody bothered to load test.

Either way it smacks of poor planning, inadequate resources and incompetent IT personnel.  Which is exactly the results you can expect when you go with the lowest bidder.  Results not price is the real definition of a good value in anything. 

For 2013 is appears Speed is getting exactly what it's paid for.

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