GameChanger Media Makes a Play to Broaden Sports Stats App in 2012
High school and youth sports teams may lack the deep pockets of the pros, but they can still take advantage of technology for tracking game stats thanks to a New York startup. Angel investor-backed GameChanger Media offers coaches of young athletes a mobile platform that evolves record keeping from pen and paper to smartphones and tablets. “Coaches and scorekeepers of youth and high school teams have incredibly archaic tools for managing what is the most painful and time-consuming part of their job,” says GameChanger Media CEO Ted Sullivan.
His company offers youth teams a free app that lets them log game information, which they can then share in real-time with local news outlets and the public. Rather than jotting down notes on a clipboard, the teams punch in the numbers with their mobile devices. Initially designed for use by baseball and softball teams, the app is available for Android phones, iPhones and the iPad. Sullivan says another version of GameChanger Media’s platform is under development for basketball teams and is due out in beta by midyear 2012 with the full release expected by next winter.
Thanks in part to $1 million raised in November from angel investors, Sullivan says he expects to grow his staff of sixteen by 30 percent by the end of 2012. GameChanger Media has raised $3.5 million to date in total from private investors.
Founded in 2009, GameChanger Media released its app to the public in January 2010. Sullivan says in 2011, some 30,000 youth and high school teams across country and around the world adopted his company’s tools to record game stats. Amateur baseball governing body USA Baseball, youth sports program Little League International, and high school baseball team tournament host Perfect Game USA all use the platform, Sullivan says. The app is also catching on internationally, Sullivan says. “Our product is only in English, but we have teams from Korea to Germany using it,” he says.
While GameChanger Media’s platform is free for teams to use, the company also offers a “freemium” model to fans who want to subscribe to game feeds. Subscribers spend about $8 per month or about $40 for one-year subscriptions for live-streaming of play-by-play and to receive alerts about the games via Twitter, e-mail, or text messages. “We stream that data to the Web and turn that into content for fans and parents,” Sullivan says.
The game content is primarily available at GameChanger Media’s website, but it can added to any blog or website through a scoreboard widget, Sullivan says. GameChanger Media also publishes recap stories online, with the help of Chicago startup Narrative Science, based on data from the games.
In addition to the freemium model, GameChanger Media derives revenues from advertising and sponsorships. Sports equipment providers, for example, can target their marketing to teams, athletes and their families through GameChanger Media. Sullivan says he is pitching his company’s services to restaurants that might want to offer postgame deals to teams. “We know where the games and practices are happening and when they are over,” Sullivan says. “We can deliver a coupon to all the fans of a particular team when their team wins and give a free sandwich or pizza to the team MVP, because we know exactly how he or she did in that game.”
High-end software for tracking stats is available to professional teams, Sullivan says, which often hire dedicated staff members to record game data. “Our product is designed to be used by someone who is not a trained expert in baseball scorekeeping,” he says. Companies such as Stats Inc. also gather data from professional games for use by fantasy sports companies. “Our goal was to take that some concept to the consumer level,” Sullivan says.
Sports and technology represent two aspects of Sullivan’s life. He pitched for the Cleveland Indians’ Minor League team and, along with his brother Brendan, founded a sports camp in the Washington, DC-area called Headfirst. Brendan currently runs the camp full-time, Sullivan says. After Sullivan left the camp business, he went on to earn his MBA from Harvard Business School. In 2006 he joined Rave Wireless (now Rave Mobile Safety), a mobile apps company, where he worked in business development and marketing until the end of 2008.
GameChanger Media plans to adapt its platform to other types of youth sports such as soccer, Sullivan says, though he’s not in any rush to pursue football or other male-dominated games. “Football is its own animal,” he says. “I don’t think it’s the perfect sport for us.” The limited number of games per season and the lack of teams for girls keep that sport from scaling into a big business opportunity, Sullivan says. He is scouting for sports with wide appeal that he can add to the app. “Boys and girls sports scale better,” Sullivan says. “Those are sports where the ROI is better.”