Pandemic Accelerant Watch: Broadcast Tech and High School Sports

As I’ve previously written, I’m keeping an eye on industry trends that are being accelerated by market forces during the pandemic.

One firm to keep an eye on is Buzzer, “a notification-driven mobile platform for live sports personalized for fans and authenticated through existing subscriptions or micropayments.” In other words, the Buzzer app notifies you when something of interest is on–say a close NFL game in the final two minutes–and allows you to tune in, either via a subscription you already have or by making a “micropayment” for instant access. This isn’t a totally new concept; the NBA has played around with a model that allows you tune into to a portion of a game for a small price. But Buzzer is ambitious, linking platforms and leagues in a personalized experience. Founded earlier this year by Bo Han, Twitter’s former head of sports partnerships and rights, Buzzer has just completed a $4 million seed round. I see great potential with this model, especially with the industry’s ongoing struggle to cultivate the short attention span of Gen Z. More on the upstart firm via Axios.

In a similar vein (and with a similar name) is Overtime, a digital platform for high school sports programming. The business model is different, relying on paid contributors to record live action. The four-year-old company has a massive online following and deserves some credit in making young stars like Zion Williamson household names before their first college game. Investors have lined up, including firms such as Andreesen Horowitz and NBA stars Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony. While I applaud their success, I have ethical misgivings over the business model, where the amateur talent they feature is compensated solely via “exposure.” And I’m also not too keen on the further professionalization of youth sports, but it seems that that train left the station some time ago. More on Overtime via the Huddle Up newsletter.

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