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Buzzer raises US$20m as it prepares to license sports mobile notification tech

Firm in discussions with ‘major’ rights holders and broadcasters as it shifts focus.

18 April 2023 Steve McCaskill
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  • Buzzer has raised US$44m since 2020
  • Athlete investors include Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan and Patrick Mahomes
  • Firm has deals with NBA, WNBA, ATP Tour, DAZN and FanDuel

Mobile-centric live sports streaming platform Buzzer has raised US$20 million in new funding as it seeks to license its technology to third parties.

New athlete investors include tennis star Nick Kyrgios, National Football League (NFL) defensive end Myles Garrett, and National Basketball Association (NBA) ace Kevin Durant through his Thirty Five Ventures investment vehicle.

The funding brings the total raised by the company to US$44 million and will be used to commercialise a licensed offering called ‘Powered by Buzzer’, which will allow third parties to make use of the technology that powers its own application.

Buzzer’s mobile app issues users with notifications and quick access to live sport if it believes an exciting moment is about to happen so they can watch live. This way, users don’t have to watch whole sporting events to see the best parts and don’t need to rely on highlights which have diminished appeal. 

To date, the firm has deals with the NBA, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and tennis’ ATP Tour. It also has agreements with sports subscription service DAZN and betting firm FanDuel. However, Buzzer chief executive Bo Han believes that in order to work with the biggest rights holders in sport, it could no longer confine its technology to its own application.

He told Bloomberg that Buzzer wanted to become the “operating system for live sports on mobile” and that it had opened discussions with major rights holders and broadcasters.

Buzzer raised US$20 million in a Series A round last year. Existing investors include team owners and a host of current and former athletes, including Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, Patrick Mahomes, and Naomi Osaka.

SportsPro says…

The value of Buzzer’s technology has never been in question. In a world where there is a greater choice of entertainment – and sports content – than ever before, having a helping hand to identify the best bits has obvious benefit to consumers.

The technology could play a key role in solving the sports industry’s struggle to engage young fans with its ability to capture attention at crucial moments. Even older viewers who have multiple commitments competing for their limited time might also prefer the ability to watch their favourite teams and sports live rather than rely on highlights. Buzzer ultimately maximises the value of live sport and can be a valuable marketing tool.

But the business model has yet to be refined. Buzzer works with existing subscriptions but also provides access to specific content through microtransactions. Meanwhile, it has been working on an advertising-funded model, and is looking to benefit from the rapid growth of betting in the US. However, its narrow range of partnerships has limited the appeal, functionality and monetisation potential of the app so far. 

Licensing the technology flips the economics. Major rights holders and broadcasters will be able to include the functionality in their owned-and-operated platforms, retaining control and creating a steady stream of revenue for Buzzer to complement its commission and ad-funded income.

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