Mobile sports streaming company Buzzer plans to stop supporting its consumer app platform as it transitions into a tech provider for teams, leagues, and networks broadcasting directly to fans themselves.
The decision comes alongside a shrinking of the startup’s workforce. Fewer than 30 employees now work at Buzzer, which had as many as 65 early last year. The company has raised $44 million to date, including from some of sports’ biggest names.
“It’s a really emotional and difficult decision, particularly when it is tied to saying goodbye to such talented people,” Buzzer CEO Bo Han said in an interview. “The problem that we are solving is the same, but how we are solving it has shifted, just based off the changing consumer landscape, the industry needs, as well as the market constraints.”
Han founded Buzzer in 2020, initially offering fans the opportunity to pay 99 cents for snippets of live game streams. It inked deals with the NHL, NBA, and PGA Tour, among others.
In recent years, particularly following the uncertainty caused by Diamond Sports’ bankruptcy proceedings, leagues and teams have shown an increased interest in more directly controlling digital distribution of their games. For example, the Suns recently announced a deal with Kiswe to deliver all of their games via streaming, in addition to over-the-air television.
Under a new “Powered by Buzzer” label, the startup now plans to offer API licensing, custom development and consulting services to those rights holders and other streaming distributors, having previously built location-based gating features, personalized notification systems and sponsor integrations tools for its own consumer product.
“Our suite of offerings leverages infrastructure, insights, [and] proprietary technology that we developed and refined over the past three years,” Han said. “We truly believe that we can be a trusted partner for streaming services that really embrace curated, timely inputs for fans, especially young fans.”
Buzzer could find it is easier to offer teams improvements to in-house streaming products than it has been to convince rights-holders to part with any aspect of their live rights, but the streaming tech market is also a competitive one. Buzzer will attempt to stand out in the category given its previous focus on both mobile experiences and wooing younger fans. Han says the average Buzzer user is 27 years old.
Han said the company plans to test its offering with multiple partners this summer. A timeline for sunsetting the Buzzer app has not yet been announced. The iOS program last received an update roughly one month ago.
Sapphire Sport led Buzzer’s most recent, $20 million funding round, joined by ID Fund, NewBound Ventures and Lerer Hippeau. Buzzer also added to its star-studded individual investor list by bringing tennis player Nick Kyrgios and the NFL’s Myles Garrett into the fold as well as Kevin Durant’s Thirty Five Ventures during its most recent raise. Its previous investors include Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, Patrick Mahomes and Naomi Osaka. Funds tied to MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL and NHL team ownership groups also sit on the cap table, and could soon prove valuable in helping Buzzer enter the enterprise market.