As youth sports livestreaming continues to expand—its growth accelerated by the pandemic as much as technology—one particular platform is setting its sights on outdoor field sports. BallerTV, which currently livestreams indoor sports, including youth basketball and volleyball, is acquiring on-demand youth sports filming and recruiting company NextPro.
NextPro’s current portfolio spans 40 states and encompasses more than 150,000 outdoor games, spanning large-scale events in youth soccer, lacrosse, baseball and softball, all of which will now be livestreamed for the first time as part of BallerTV.
“It was always part of our scaling plan to go into outdoor sports,” BallerTV co-CEO and co-founder Aaron Hawkey said in an interview. “NextPro clearly helped us accelerate that. They are rights holders to some of the biggest soccer [and] lacrosse events in the country, but historically, they’ve never livestreamed games. That’s what we do so well, so it seemed like a perfect match.”
BallerTV, which was founded in 2016, has livestreamed more than half a million youth games to date and counts retired NBA star Dwyane Wade as a global ambassador. Wade watched his son Zaire play several of his high school games on the platform. While BallerTV said the majority of its viewers are parents and family members of players, more than 3,000 NCAA coaches also have accounts on the subscription-based platform, a number it expects to grow.
The platform has already broadcast more than 300,000 contests in 2021 and is on pace to stream between 350,000 and 400,000 by the end of the year—which will be BallerTV’s biggest to date. The company cites COVID-19 restrictions, which limited in-person attendance at youth sporting events across the country and pushed family members toward livestreams, along with the introduction of its autonomous camera technology as driving factors behind its growth. The new technology, built to use with an iPhone, is “simple enough for a 10-year-old to set up,” Hawkey said, and has allowed BallerTV to scale beyond what its network of 30,000 videographers could cover and capture.
Given its recent growth and the acquisition, the company said it expects to break 500,000 streams per year beginning in 2022 and is on target to cover 2 million total games by 2023.
BallerTV expressed particular interest in NextPro’s rights in youth soccer. Behind basketball and baseball, outdoor soccer is the third most popular team sports in the U.S. by participation, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.
The company, which announced a $1.5 million seed raise in 2018, declined to disclose any financial details of the acquisition. Pricing for BallerTV’s three subscription tiers currently starts at just under $100 per year ($7.99/month) and goes up to $239.88 annually ($19.99/month). The company did not disclose subscriber numbers.
“We were extremely impressed with BallerTV’s meteoric growth from the moment they came into the youth sports landscape,” said Amin Edalat, CEO and co-founder of NextPro. “It’s exciting to align with BallerTV’s vision for the future.”
Both CEOs see significant opportunity in youth sports streaming, especially in light of the pandemic. With more than 15 million such events hosted annually in a market estimated to be worth some $25 billion, they’re not alone. For example, GameChanger, the youth sports app owned by Dick’s Sporting Goods that allows parents and coaches to manage teams, keep stats and scores, and to livestream some of its competitions, recently announced plans to expand into seven more sports as it looks to meet the increased demand. LiveBarn, another subscription-based live and on-demand streaming service for amateur and youth sports events, announced this spring what it described as a “significant investment” from Susquehanna Growth Equity to scale its operations.