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Buzzer to shutdown app and shift to becoming sports tech provider

No date given for closing down mobile-centric live sports streaming platform.

10 May 2023 Ed Dixon

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  • ‘Powered by Buzzer’ to provide API licensing, custom development and consulting services
  • Company plans to test offering for rights holders and streaming distributors this summer

Mobile-focused sports streaming platform Buzzer will stop supporting its consumer app as it pivots to become a technology provider for leagues, teams and networks broadcasting directly to fans.

Founded in 2020, Buzzer initially offered fans the ability to pay US$0.99 for clips of live games streams and has inked deals with the likes of the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Hockey League (NHL) and the ATP Tour. It also has agreements with sports streaming subscription service DAZN and betting firm FanDuel.

Last month, the company raised US$20 million in new funding to help license its technology to third parties. Buzzer has now raised US$44 million to date, with the latest round being used to commercialise ‘Powered by Buzzer’. The licensed offering will provide Application Programme Interface (API) licensing, custom development and consulting services.

Bo Han, Buzzer’s chief executive, had already discussed the need to longer restrict the company’s technology to its own application in order to enable it to work with sport’s biggest rights holders. Han told Bloomberg in April that he wanted Buzzer to become the “operating system for live sports on mobile” and that the company had opened talks with major rights holders and broadcasters.

As Buzzer sets out to refine its business model, its efforts come as leagues and teams continue to show more interest in having greater control over digital distribution of their games. The situation has been compounded following the bankruptcy of Sinclair subsidiary Diamond Sports Group (DSG) in March. This prompted the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and the Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) Phoenix Mercury to not renew their local rights deal with DSG, instead offering live matches on free-to-air (FTA) television and via a new streaming service.

DSG is now suing the Suns and Mercury, having claimed the teams’ decision violated bankruptcy law and its agreement.

Han told Sportico that Buzzer’s offering would enable the company to be a “trusted partner” for streaming platforms, particularly those targeting younger viewers. Buzzer is trying to stand out in the crowded streaming technology market by leaning into its focus on mobile experiences and attracting a youthful demographic – Han has stated the average Buzzer user is 27 years old.

“Our suite of offerings leverages infrastructure, insights, [and] proprietary technology that we developed and refined over the past three years,” said Han.

“We truly believe that we can be a trusted partner for streaming services that really embrace curated, timely inputs for fans, especially young fans.”

Han also described the decision to shut down Buzzer’s app as “emotional” and discussed the impact it would have on the company’s workforce. Sportico notes that the startup’s workforce has shrunk to fewer than 30 employees, having stood at as many as 65 early last year.

“It’s a really emotional and difficult decision, particularly when it is tied to saying goodbye to such talented people,” Han said.

“The problem that we are solving is the same, but how we are solving it has shifted, just based off the changing consumer landscape, the industry needs, as well as the market constraints.”

Han added that the company plans to test its offering with multiple partners this summer. No timeline has been announced for closing down the Buzzer app.

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