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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

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Oct 28, 2020 - Sports

Women's sports network Athletes Unlimited plans its next moves

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Athletes Unlimited, a network of women's sports leagues that uses fantasy-style scoring, successfully completed its first season of softball last month.

Why it matters: While most leagues scrambled to create one-off bubble tournaments, Athletes Unlimited didn't have to change too much about its model, which was already designed for short, single-site seasons.

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Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note ±3.3% margin of error for the total sample size; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

About half of Americans are worried that trick-or-treating will spread coronavirus in their communities, according to this week's installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: This may seem like more evidence that the pandemic is curbing our nation's cherished pastimes. But a closer look reveals something more nuanced about Americans' increased acceptance for risk around activities in which they want to participate.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: The good and bad news about antibody therapies — Fauci: Hotspots have materialized across "the entire country."
  2. World: Belgium imposes lockdown, citing "health emergency" due to influx of cases.
  3. Economy: Conference Board predicts economy won’t fully recover until late 2021.
  4. Education: Surge threatens to shut classrooms down again.
  5. Technology: The pandemic isn't slowing tech.
  6. Travel: CDC replaces COVID-19 cruise ban with less restrictive "conditional sailing order."
  7. Sports: High school football's pandemic struggles.
  8. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.