Buzzer renews NBA and WNBA offers to watch out-of-market games on mobile phones
Buzzer, the youth-focused mobile live sports platform, has renewed its contracts with the NBA and WNBA to allow fans to watch out-of-market games through their League Pass streaming services.
The contracts are for several years, although Buzzer would not disclose how many years they are for, or any financial details. Buzzer paid a fee for the rights, and the company and the leagues will share revenue generated when people pay to access games through Buzzer. The contracts are for the regular season only and do not include the playoffs.
The Buzzer, which was founded in 2020, previously had contracts with the NBA for the final six weeks of the 2020-21 season and the entire 2021-22 season and with the WNBA for the last 3 ½ weeks of the 2021 season and for the entire 2022 season.
By downloading Buzzer’s iOS or Android apps, fans can receive alerts on their mobile phones when games are being played and when there are close scores or other events that may be of interest. Then they can pay as little as 99 cents to watch the fourth quarter and overtime of games and up to $5.99 for the entire game. They can also buy full access to NBA League Pass, which costs $99.99 for the entire ad-free season, and WNBA League Pass, which costs $24.99 for the 2022 season, which ended last month.
As of now, Buzzer only offers in-app purchases for out-of-market NBA and WNBA games. Buzzer founder and CEO Bo Han, a former Twitter executive, said the company hopes to announce deals with other leagues in the coming months, though nothing has been finalized.
“Buzzer has proven successful in reaching the next generation of fans, and renewing our partnership with the NBA and WNBA is a testament to Buzzer’s unique approach to engaging a growing audience that doesn’t normally tune in to traditional television,” Steve Pagliuca, Boston Celtics co-owner and Buzzer investor, said in a statement. announcement. “For a two-year-old startup, that’s an incredible affirmation, and I look forward to seeing Buzzer continue to innovate and introduce features that bring mobile basketball fans back to the live window.”
In June, Sportico registered Buzzer recently laid off 20% of its staff and has I’m looking for to raise at least $20 million in funding. The company, which now has 42 full-time employees according to Khan, 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 investor in Buzzer. Numerous athletes have also invested in the Buzzer, including Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionesca, tennis player Naomi Osaka and hockey stars Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid.
Han said Buzzer plans to close another round of funding sometime next year, but declined to say how much money the company is looking to raise. He admitted that it has become much more difficult for startups to raise money this year.
“The market dynamics have changed quite a bit, as everyone has seen and experienced,” Han said. “The macro has definitely changed. It is important for us that our mission has not changed, that our product vision has not changed, that the audience we want to satisfy has not changed.”
He added: “This just requires us to be far more disciplined and focused and execute the vision we all believe in.”
Before founding Buzzer, Han was director of live content at Twitter, where he negotiated with professional sports leagues to stream their games on the platform. Han, who has an undergraduate degree from Cornell and an MBA from Columbia, said he started Buzzer because he noticed that young sports fans weren’t watching full games as much as older fans, and were more interested in short videos like 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 get the next generation to consume some of it.”
In addition, young fans are also usually glued to their mobile phones browsing social media and the internet, so Buzzer was 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 are not watching on television may still be willing to pay for access to the game via the Buzzer.
“The goal here is how do we become a bridge to the next generation and how do we reach an audience that television doesn’t reach,” Han said. “You have a whole generation, especially Generation Z, that is very mobile. Mobile is the first device they grew up on as opposed to (older) who first grew up with TV. In many ways, it’s optimized for the device it’s used with and the next generation is used.”
In addition to 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 includes Buzzer distribution of live moments from boxing matches that DAZN broadcasts with the goal of getting people to watch clips and sign up for DAZN.
With the FanDuel partnership, fans who bet on NBA or WNBA games through FanDuel are alerted to watch them through the 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 the Buzzer. FanDuel odds are integrated into the Buzzer app and Buzzer ads appear in the FanDuel app.
“We look at our partnership with FanDuel as one of the tools for user engagement for NBA and WNBA games,” Han said. “As we expand our live sports portfolio, our partnership with FanDuel will deepen, but right now it’s how we keep fans informed about 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 activity outside of the Buzzer so we can create customized discovery mechanisms for you… It’s about understanding users, what they’re interested in, and how we create timely notifications that are curated and tailored to that individual sports fan.”
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