September 15, 2011 in ATDC News

Graduate Profiles: PlayON! Sports Scores with High School Market

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It’s been a good year for PlayON! Sports. The Atlanta-based company has exploded in size and geographic footprint, with staff now producing and distributing coverage of more than 10,000 high school athletic events annually, including 2,000 high school championships. And thanks to the recent completion of a $7.2 million Series C investment round — led by Buckhead Investment Partners, Imlay Investments and Hamilton Ventures — the firm will continue to position itself as a leader in high school sports coverage.

Not bad for a company that’s only been in existence since 2005. PlayON! Sports was founded when David Rudolph – then an executive at Turner Broadcasting System – saw an opportunity to start airing sporting events that were lacking television exposure. The concept was developed inside Turner until 2008, when Rudolph teamed up with several Atlanta investment groups to purchase the company.

Although PlayON! started with an emphasis on college sports, company leaders eventually turned their attention to the untapped high school market. The firm is now the nation’s largest rights holder, producer, distributor and aggregator of high school content distributed across television, Internet and streaming enabled devices.

“We had noticed that the viewing audience for high school football games was really impressive, so it was an area that we wanted to explore,” said Rudolph, who serves as President and CEO. “But the real turning point for us was when we were hired by the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) to produce the state wrestling championship. We had over 100,000 viewers, which absolutely blew us away. It was far higher than we expected.”

A recent graduate of ATDC, PlayON! Sports has grown 150 to 200 percent each year and now encompasses more than 21 states and 30 full-time employees. By combining postseason content from various state athletic associations with the regular season events of member schools, PlayON! provides marketers with a unique multi-media platform solution to reach teens and families, said Rudolph.

So what’s next for the company? For starters, nationwide coverage would be nice. They’re also poised to enter the mobile technology market.

“We have a goal and a vision,” said Rudolph. “We want every high school game in the country to be broadcast and distributed in some shape or fashion. In addition, we want to distribute our content on as many platforms as possible, and mobile is the next opportunity for that.”

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