November 19, 2010 in ATDC News

The Startup Chronicles: PlayON! Sports

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Sports fans across the world have felt the pain of wanting to watch a sporting event that is not broadcasted in their area. The past ten years have seen the launch of several regional and niche television channels to satisfy this demand for collegiate sports, such as ESPNU and The Big Ten Network, but what about high school sporting events? That is where PlayON! Sports steps in.

While an executive at Turner Broadcasting Network, David Rudolph saw an immense opportunity in broadcasting video coverage of sporting events that were not getting wide television exposure. Thus, in 2005 PlayON! Sports was born. The concept was developed inside Turner Broadcasting Network until 2008 when Mr. Rudolph teamed up with a red carpet triumvirate of Atlanta investment groups to purchase the company and launch it as a standalone business. With $3 Million in VC funding from Noro-Moseley Partners, Imlay Investments, and Buckhead Investment Partners, prospects for the PlayON! Sports team looked great.

Now, more than two years after setting out on its own, PlayON! Sports has seen tremendous growth and recognition. They’ve gone through a second round of financing with almost all of their existing investors, while adding new investor Hamilton Ventures. The company won a spot as one of TAG’s Top 10 Innovative Georgia Technology Companies in 2009. Also in 2009 the company partnered with the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) and the South Carolina High School League (SCHSL) to launch GHSA Digital and the SCHSL Network, respectively. Each partnership is geared towards distributing high school sports video coverage across TV, broadband, DVD, and download-to-own. Continuing the growth, PlayON! Sports has locked down partnerships with other statewide athletic associations including Illinois (IHSA), Missouri (MSHSAA), Colorado (CHSAA), and Oregon (OSAA).

Recently, PlayON! Sports made a strategic merger with When We Were Young Productions (WWWYP). The merger combines the extensive technology platform of PlayON! Sports with the deep production and distribution experience of WWWYP, along with the high school association relationships of each company to create the premier high school sports network, adding Michign (MHSAA) and Wisconsin (WIAA) to their list of partners.

An acquisition, multiple rounds of financing, partnerships, a strategic merger – in the relatively short life of PlayON! Sports, the company has experienced and grown so much. And it isn’t stopping there; the company is developing relationships with many other states and has several new deals in the works. At ATDC our hats are off to the entire PlayON! Sports team.




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