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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Buzzer, a mobile technology platform that wants to connect fans through live sports while helping existing media rights holders maximize value, has raised $4 million in seed funding, Axios has learned.

How it works: Buzzer's vision is to aggregate sports rights, sending fans personalized notifications to make it easy to pop into a live game — either through their existing subscription or micropayments.

  • Subscription: Fans can potentially authenticate their various subscriptions (cable, YouTubeTV, ESPN+, NBA League Pass, etc.)
  • Micropayments: If fans don't have the subscription required, they can quickly make a micropayment starting at $0.99 to buy only and exactly what they want to watch.

Details:

  • Investors: Lerer Hippeau and Sapphire Sport led the round, and the cap table also includes Sofi CEO Anthony Noto and former TimeWarner CEO Richard Parsons, among others.
  • Founder/CEO: Bo Han came up with the idea for Buzzer after spending over seven years leading sports partnerships and media licensing at Twitter.
Courtesy: Buzzer

The big picture: The sports media business is built around live games. But with so many young, cord-cutting fans choosing instead to snack on highlights and social media content, the industry is in desperate need of innovation.

  • Buzzer wants to bring Gen Z back into the fold by essentially building a notifications-based layer on top of the current ecosystem that helps fans more easily jump into live action.
  • "We all have those moments of panic where we hear about a close game, and consequently scramble to find the nearest TV," says Han. "This is what Buzzer is aiming to solve: simplifying access to ephemeral live moments in sports."

Between the lines: The key to Buzzer's success will be convincing leagues and the companies that pay millions of dollars to distribute their content that it will complement what's already out there, rather than disrupt the entire landscape.

  • Buzzer believes it can help cable companies and other rights holders retain customers by giving them more chances to feel the value of that subscription.
  • And even users who opt for micropayments could grow tired of repeatedly paying $0.99, and ultimately buy a monthly cable or streaming subscription as a result.

The bottom line: Live games are monetized, but inaccessible to many cord-cutters. Highlights are not easily monetized, but accessible to all. Buzzer wants to create a third category somewhere in the middle called "short-form live."

"Twitter is the ultimate sports bar. What I noticed, however, is that it's often like being inside of that sports bar, but not having control of the remote. Our mission is to provide all sports fans unmatched access to live action anytime, anywhere — and bring people together in the process."
— Bo Han, Buzzer founder/CEO

Go deeper

Dec 21, 2020 - Podcasts

Milwaukee Bucks owner: NBA teams will lose money this season

The NBA tips off tomorrow night, making it the first major U.S. sports league to play a second season amidst the pandemic. No bubble this time, but also not many in-person fans.

Axios Re:Cap talks with Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry on the business of basketball, how much he expects to lose this season and that massive new deal for two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Beto plans Texas comeback in governor's race

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke speaks during the Georgetown to Austin March for Democracy rally on July 31, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is preparing to run for governor of Texas in 2022, with an announcement expected later this year, Texas political operatives tell Axios.

Why it matters: O'Rourke's entry would give Democrats a high-profile candidate with a national fundraising network to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — and give O’Rourke, a former three-term congressman from El Paso and 2020 presidential candidate and voting rights activist, a path to a political comeback.

Texas doctor says he performed an abortion in violation of state law

Pro-choice protesters march down Congress Avenue and back to the Texas state capitol in Austin, Texas, in July 2021. Photo: Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

A Texas doctor disclosed in an op-ed in the Washington Post on Saturday that he has performed an abortion in violation of the state's restrictive new abortion law, which effectively bans the procedure after six weeks.

Why it matters: Alan Braid's op-ed is a direct disclosure that will very likely result in legal action, thereby setting it up as a potential test case for how the abortion ban will be litigated, notes the New York Times.