SportsMEDIA Secures Growth Capital, Plans Three-Part Expansion
SportsMEDIA Technology Corp. has secured $12.5 million in growth-capital funding from Vincente Capital Partners. The move is a clear departure for SportsMEDIA, which specializes in live data and graphics integration for sports broadcasters, such as ESPN, NBC Sports, and CBS Sports. Previously, the company had been owned and operated solely by Gerard J. Hall, who will continue to serve as CEO, with Vincente Capital Partners taking a minority position.
“About three years ago, I hit a point where I had some new product ideas but we were already at capacity keeping our current clients happy, so I couldn’t put any resources behind getting these products to market,” Hall says. “We had no long-term debt, and I was the sole shareholder of the company. I decided to bring in a financial partner in order to get some dollars behind this so we could get some new products out and have some more strategically planned growth.”
The deal with Vincente Capital is the culmination of a three-year effort. According to Hall, the new funds will go toward a trio of initiatives: migrating all SportsMEDIA products to a new, more scalable software platform; introducing existing products into new domestic and international markets; and, most important, developing the new products that SportsMEDIA has been forced to leave on the backburner in recent years.
“This is unique for us because we’ve had [double-digit growth] every year for the past 20 years but we’ve never stepped back and asked exactly how we want to grow the company,” says Hall. “Now, with these three avenues of growth, we have a defined plan on where we want to go.”
A GEM of a Software Platform
First and foremost, SportsMEDIA plans to migrate all its existing products over to a new software platform developed in-house and dubbed GEM. The hope is that the new platform will allow greater flexibility when customizing applications for each client.
“Networks differentiate themselves based on their graphic look,” says Hall. “Our legacy software was very engineering-intensive in terms of customization. In order to support different clients with different looks, we would have to [reconfigure] the software each time. But GEM will be very scalable.”
In addition, SportsMEDIA plans to license out several of GEM’s authoring tools to its clients, allowing them to customize many of these products themselves.
Moving Beyond the U.S.
Up to this point, SportsMEDIA has essentially been a purely domestic outfit. While U.S. broadcasters have used SportsMEDIA tools for events outside the States (for example, ESPN at the French Open and Versus at the Tour de France), the company has yet to penetrate the foreign sports-broadcasting market.
“We think there is a tremendous upside for some of our products in international markets,” says Hall. “We’re looking to take some of those established products and move them into new geographic markets.”
SportsMEDIA will also look to expand domestically with an eye on the broadcast space beyond sports.
“We’re very successful in our current marketplace, and we’re going to continue to make our clients in that space happy. Sports is the core of the company’s growth,” says Hall. “But we also want to repurpose existing products into new markets — whether that be entertainment or something else along those lines.”
The injection of funds also allows SportsMEDIA to infuse resources into its R&D efforts and to dive headlong into the development of several products that have been in a holding pattern. Hall says this was the initial catalyst behind the deal and the aspect that excites him most.
“I’ve got a few product ideas that I think will be very, very well received in the current market,” he says. “I’m very anxious to get the resources behind those and get them developed. The new products will be beneficial not only to remote production but also to studio production. They will involve the same real-time data processing and real-time data integration that we’re known for, but I think they will be quite revolutionary.”