Buzzer, a mobile live sports platform aimed at young people, has renewed its agreements with the NBA and WNBA to allow fans to watch out-of-market games through their League Pass streaming services.
The deals are for multiple years, although Buzzer is not disclosing how many years they are for or any financial details. Buzzer paid a rights fee, and the company and leagues will share the revenue generated when people pay to access games through Buzzer. The agreements are for the regular season only and do not include the playoffs.
Buzzer, which was founded in 2020, had previously reached an agreement with the NBA for the last six weeks of the 2020-21 season and the entire 2021-22 season and with the WNBA for the last 3 and a half weeks of the 2021 season. and for the whole 2022 season.
By downloading Buzzer’s iOs or Android apps, fans can receive alerts on their mobile phone when games are being played and when there are close scores or other events that may be of interest to them. They can then pay as little as 99 cents to watch the fourth quarter and overtime games and up to $5.99 for a full game. They can also purchase full access to the NBA League Pass, which costs $99.99 for the entire season without ads, and the WNBA League Pass, which costs $24.99 for the 2022 season which ended last month.
For now, Buzzer only offers in-app purchases for out-of-market NBA and WNBA games. Buzzer founder and chief executive Bo Han, a former Twitter executive, said the company hoped to announce deals with other leagues in the coming months, although nothing has been finalized.
“Buzzer has proven successful in reaching next-generation fans, and the partnership renewals with the NBA and WNBA are a testament to Buzzer’s unique approach to attracting additional audiences who don’t otherwise tune in to traditional television. “Steve Pagliuca, a Boston Celtics co-owner and investor in Buzzer, said in a statement. “For a two-year-old startup, this is an incredible affirmation and I can’t wait to see how Buzzer will continue to innovate and roll out features that bring mobile-first basketball fans back to the live window. “
In June, Sportico announced that Buzzer had recently laid off 20% of its staff and was looking to raise at least $20 million in funding. The company, which now has 42 full-time employees according to Han, raised a $4 million seed round in March 2020 and a $20 million Series A round in March 2021, led by Sapphire Sport and Canaan Partners. .
Michael Jordan, the former NBA superstar who is now the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets, is an investor in Buzzer. Many athletes have also invested in Buzzer, including Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu, tennis player Naomi Osaka, and hockey stars Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid.
Han said Buzzer plans to complete another funding round next year, but he wouldn’t say how much money the company is looking to raise. He acknowledged that it has become much more difficult for startups to raise funds this year.
“The market dynamics have changed a lot, as everyone has seen and experienced,” Han said. “The macro has definitely changed. What is important for us is that our mission has not changed, our vision of the product has not changed, the audience we want to address has not changed.
He added: “It just forces us to be much more disciplined and focused and to execute the vision that we all believe in.”
Prior to founding Buzzer, Han was director of live content at Twitter, where he brokered deals with professional sports leagues to broadcast their matches on the platform. Han, who has an undergraduate degree from Cornell and an MBA from Columbia, said he started Buzzer because he noticed younger sports fans don’t watch as many full games as older fans. but were more interested in short videos such as highlights.
“It’s becoming a very problematic trend because live programming and live sports are the heart of this whole industry and this whole business,” Han said. “You have to make the next generation consume some of it.”
Additionally, young fans are also usually glued to their cellphones researching social media and the internet. Buzzer was therefore created as a mobile platform that these fans can easily access. For example, if the 76ers and Lakers are tied in the fourth quarter, fans of those teams who aren’t watching on TV may still be willing to pay to access the game through Buzzer.
“The focus here is how do we become a bridge to the next generation and how do we reach an audience that isn’t addressed by television,” Han said. “You have a whole generation, especially Gen Z, who are very mobile-centric. Mobile is the first device they grew up on, unlike (seniors) who grew up on TV first. in many ways it is optimized for a device that the next generation interacts with and uses.”
Besides the NBA and WNBA deals, Buzzer also has partnerships with DAZN and FanDuel. The DAZN deal, which was announced in February, was Buzzer’s first with a streaming platform. This involves Buzzer distributing live moments of boxing matches broadcast by DAZN with the goal of getting people to watch the clips and sign up for DAZN.
With the FanDuel partnership, fans who bet on NBA or WNBA games via FanDuel are alerted to watch them via Buzzer. For example, if someone is betting money on a 3 ½ point spread and the game is within four points in the fourth quarter, they may be interested in watching the rest of the game via Buzzer. FanDuel odds are integrated into the Buzzer app and advertisements for Buzzer appear in the FanDuel app.
“We view our partnership with FanDuel as one of the user engagement tools for NBA and WNBA games,” Han said. “As we expand our live sports portfolio, our partnership with FanDuel will deepen, but for now, it’s how to update fans on NBA and WNBA game moments.”
He added: “We are not a betting operator, but we want to be the destination to watch your bets live. It’s more about understanding the activity outside of Buzzer so we can create tailored discovery mechanisms for you… It’s about understanding the customer, what interests them, and how to create timely notifications that are curated and tailored to that individual sports fan.”
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