STN's record-breaking comScore numbers continue to make waves in the digital sports world. Business In Vancouver talks with SendtoNews Chair and CEO Matthew Watson about the rapid growth of the company and closing in on sports media giants.
Article below, courtesy of Business in Vancouver:
How B.C. startup SendtoNews is closing in on ESPN viewership
SendtoNews scored 120 million views of sports clips earlier this year as TV audiences migrate to the Internet
Arguably Victoria’s biggest sports victory came nearly a century ago when the Victoria Cougars hoisted the Stanley Cup in 1925.
While B.C.’s capital city might lack a pro-sports team, it’s still in the hunt for another big win in the sports world as Victoria-based tech startup SendtoNews absorbs TV viewers migrating online for sports clips.
SendtoNews’ video distribution platform targets publishers lacking the in-house know-how and licensing for online sports highlights.
Instead of USA Today developing its own video distribution platform and landing the rights to show online visitors sports highlights from pro leagues, SendtoNews is providing those services to more than 1,500 publishers.
The latest comScore analytics revealed SendtoNews attracted 6.5 million unique viewers to watch 120 million clips in January 2017. Only ESPN, with 361 million video views, had more views, while Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports and the NFL attracted more unique viewers on their online video platforms.
“We’ve got this great tailwind behind us … this macro-migration of viewers and advertising dollars from print and broadcast into the digital realm,” SendtoNews CEO and executive chairman Matthew Watson told Business in Vancouver. “And the fastest-growing segment of digital is video.”
The company got its start during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, landing a contract allowing non-accredited journalists to distribute video stories using its distribution platform.
The business model began to shift around 2013. Instead of clients paying to use SendtoNews as a service, the company moved into an ad-driven model offering both the licensed content as well as the tech that would allow publications like the Los Angeles Times or the Chicago Tribune to showcase sports highlights on their websites.
“We’ve become the go-to guys for content providers who want to reach a larger audience. We have deals with MLB, NBA, NHL,” Watson said, adding SendtoNews has scored deals with another 70 sports leagues across the globe.
As of 2017, SendtoNews has deals with publishers that give them a presence in 94 out of the top 100 media market areas in the U.S., according to Watson.
Curiate CEO Jennifer Chen said there is even more room for growth in the sports-content distribution market that SendtoNews specializes in.
Her Vancouver-based company analyzes TV viewing habits by examining multiple platforms, including traditional live TV, downloaded video and over-the-top services like Netflix (Nasdaq:NFLX) or Amazon Prime Video.
She said that while live sports viewing has not declined to the degree traditional TV viewing has in recent years, audiences are becoming more accustomed to watching shorter sports clips online.
“The problem with traditional broadcasters like an ESPN is that they just can’t play in that game. It cannibalizes their income.”
Chen added that sports leagues benefit from selling the rights to clips to non-traditional broadcasters instead of giving traditional broadcasters exclusive rights across all platforms.
SendtoNews falls into the basket of non-traditional distributors, along with giants like Amazon Prime, which announced a deal April 4 that will allow it to broadcast NFL games on its online platform. Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) previously held those NFL rights.
“It’s becoming very fragmented, so franchise owners are trying all different kinds of ways to increase the number of eyeballs in the different ways people are watching,” said Jeff Harper, a producer at
He said mobile devices are also changing the way fans consume sports. His company, which produces live webcasts for sporting events, observed that when highlight clips are made available in real time alongside a live product, the clips become the preferred way for viewers on mobile devices to consume the content.
“The problem with chopping up long-form content and making it available as clips is that it’s harder to monetize. In an ad-driven business model, overall engagement suffers as viewers pick and choose the best moments to consume,” Harper said. “Lower engagement means less impressions for advertisers and lower revenue for rights-holders. At best, rights-holders are getting less money for the same production costs. At worst, rights-holders may be eating their own lunch.”
But Watson said the business model is sound with diverse sources of revenue including ad dollars from the video clips, automated online auctions for content not already sold directly to sales partners and sub-licensing deals for content that may not appeal to North American audiences.
Watson said SendtoNews is pinning future expansion on acquiring more content while remaining “dogged in pursuit” of more publishers.
“In order for those great, iconic, real news outlets to continue to engage viewers and monetize those viewers, they need that digital presence, and that basically [means] video.”