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Streaming startup Atmosphere gets sporty

Mar 10, 2022
Illustration of a television with baseballs, hockey pucks, soccer balls and basketballs.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Atmosphere, the Austin-based streaming TV service for businesses, is launching a new sports-focused channel, COO Blake Sabatinelli tells Axios.

Why it matters: Atmosphere Sports' launch follows the startup's $100 million raise ($80 million in a Series C and $20 million in debt) announced in January, as it adds new content to help expand its reach and engagement for out-of-home viewership.

  • "We've all been to a bar and seen Stephen A. Smith on mute, like, shaking his fist," Sabatinelli says. "I think the opportunity to bring a true sports highlights program to bear that doesn't require you to have to listen to it ... is going to be a real game-changer. "

By the numbers: Sabatinelli declined to share annual revenue but says it was up more than 300% in 2021 from the year prior and that Atmosphere's valuation is "approaching unicorn status."

  • Atmosphere is unprofitable. "We know the road to profitability is achieved either via scale or via smart and shrewd P&L management," Sabatinelli says. "Not too worried with where we're at today."
  • The service is available in more than 20,000 venues and reaches more than 21 million unique viewers per month. Sabatinelli says the company hopes to "triple the size of our footprint" in venues this year.
  • The majority of customers are bars and restaurants, but the company is expanding to more gyms, care facilities and after-market auto. It recently added 1,200 customers internationally and opened a London office.
  • Atmosphere has 290 employees and plans to hire about 350 more this year.

Context: Sabatinelli joined Atmosphere in March 2021 after working as CEO of Newsy, the Scripps-owned news network. He says he met Atmosphere's founders in 2018 when Scripps considered investing.

What's next: "We created [the COO] role in order to start to operationalize the business, prepare ourselves for hyper-scaling and get ready to ride the rocket ship," Sabatinelli says.

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