The NFL, MLB and NBA sports leagues have started streaming their live games online in recent years, often charging fans for subscriptions. Now, niche sports may start up their own paid online channels.
One new venture, dubbed Sportsrocket Inc., from veteran sports media entrepreneur founder Brian Bedol, aims to reduce the costs of launching such channels for sports leagues and even individual athletes with smaller but die-hard fan bases.
“In a broadband and over-the-top world, in our view, you don’t need a 100 million fans, you need half a million fans. The economics are different,” said Mr. Bedol, whose prior ventures include what is now ESPN Classic and CBS Sports Network. Sportsrocket will enable clients to share the costs of video-streaming software, marketing and physical infrastructure to make paid video channels affordable for more sports content owners, Mr. Bedol .
This could benefit fans of sports as varied as ultimate Frisbee and cricket and snatch a chunk of traditional TV turf. Streaming television channels would allow fans to follow the sports and teams they love, Mr. Bedol said, wherever they live.
What’s at stake is a piece of a growing base of consumers who watch Internet-streamed content. It is expected that the world-wide video-on-demand and streaming video market would nearly triple to $44.83 billion in 2019 compared with $15.82 billion in 2014, according to researcher Technavio.
Sportsrocket recently attracted $10 million in venture capital, Mr. Bedol told VentureWire, which includes capital from New Enterprise Associates as well as Dan Gilbert, owner of several sports teams such as the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Jim Pallotta, co-owner of the Boston Celtics. This follows the roughly $10 million that Mr. Bedol’s media incubator and investment firm, Bedrocket Media Ventures, the majority shareholder in Sportsrocket, has already invested in the sports venture over the past year. Mr. Bedol is running both operations.
Mr. Bedol’s vision isn’t yet a slam dunk, as he’ll have to persuade fans to fork over between $1.99 and $12 a month for dedicated sports channels, as well as navigate content-rights complications and persuade clients that the investment in online channels is worth it. There are also competitors in the field, such as MLB Advanced Media.
For more on Sportsrocket’s customers and plans, as well as for information on the current state of the sports-on-demand market, read the full article in Dow Jones VentureWire.