Within a few short days the ultimate fan pandemonium will be on display for 100+ million viewers – Super Bowl 50. With one ring to rule them all, stakes and emotions are high for teams and their loyal band of followers, but more often than not, commentators play favorites leaving many fans deflated. While the trials and tribulations of fandom can make you want to punt a football through your window, YourCall lets you scream and shout with supporters who understand your deep-seated love of the game (and more importantly, your team).
Ken Rona, CEO, and Joe Wilson, CTO, are the playmakers behind YourCall, the platform blitzing bland commentating and making the play for a unique sportscasting showdown. As football aficionados here at Hype, YourCall seemed too good to be true, so we caught up with Rona to find out how the platform lets sports fans make the calls from the comfort of their couch.
YourCall.tv has developed a media platform that enables the creation of video and second screen content that runs alongside live sporting events. YourCall can be used by passionate fans, sports-focused brands, social media celebrities, and sports rights holders to create new types of sportscasts that engage current fans and attract new ones. Instead of one bland voice for all, YourCall wants each fan to choose a genre – team fanatics, fantasy addicts, statistical gurus, foreign languages, bored girlfriends and wives and more. Our platform improves fan engagement, attracts new audiences and improves the viewing experience for the fans.
What problem are you solving?
YourCall.tv’s platform solves difficulties faced by both sports fans and programmers. Sports fans love their teams, and heated rivals can disagree about pretty much any topic, expect on how dissatisfied they are with the broadcasters. Since the majority of announcers are straight-laced, English-speaking, grey-haired men, younger fans complain that broadcasters are lacking in diverse perspectives and voices. During games, social media lights up with fans complaining about biased announcing and dull broadcasters, with the most frustrated fans muting the TV. YourCall seeks to solve this problem by providing a platform that lets fans take control by creating unique broadcasts. These broadcasts (“Calls”) can be easily discovered, sampled, and shared by fans. YourCall allows fans to select from multiple perspectives for each game so they can finally find authentic and relatable broadcasters.
Programmers and rights holders have experimented with supporting multiple broadcast teams (e.g., ESPN’s Megacast and Turner’s NBA League Pass); however, the lack of a cost-effective technical infrastructure made it impractical to have more than one set of announcers broadcast a game. With YourCall, programmers can now experiment with different genres of broadcasters and even provide broadcasts in multiple languages to help expand the global fan base of leagues.
New technologies mean the average fan’s attention is divided between watching the game, checking gamecast, refreshing fantasy scores, browsing Twitter – all while texting their best friend about the game. New technologies have transformed the way we watch sports, and YourCall is at the forefront of this revolution by giving fans a way to participate in the energy and rituals of the stadium and making fan-to-fan communication more dynamic – all from the comfort of home. Because we don’t take eyeballs away from the TV, YourCall positively impacts the leagues and rights holders by increasing the engagement and experience for current fans and helping to discover new fans locally and abroad.
Funding or Bootstrapped:
We had a friends-and-family round that totaled $320K. We are currently looking to fund a $500K seed round with some of the F&F folks wanting to participate. We are looking for either angel or early stage VC funds who understand digital media.
We have an ad-supported revenue model. There are approximately 30 ad units shown in 1 hour of televised sports, so we plan to insert ads during the televised ad breaks, giving us a revenue profile much more like television than businesses that are supported with traditional pre- and mid-roll advertising.
YourCall expects that the majority of revenue will come from two sources. The first is to work directly with existing programmers and rights holders to show a companion ad unit during televised commercial breaks. For example, as a Coke commercial is shown on TV, YourCall’s platform would play a companion unit (video, audio or banner). Our second source of revenue would be to independently show video ads during the commercial breaks that will initially be sourced from ad exchanges.
How’d you get the idea for it?
I was watching the 2013 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl with Duke vs. Texas A&M and was frustrated by the announcers one-sided coverage. After the game, I went back and timed the commentary. For every one minute the announcers talked about Duke, they spent 5 minutes talking about Texas A&M. I figured if the broadcasters were going to have an obvious bias, why not hear broadcasters with my team’s bias. I wanted to create a platform that quickly let anyone become a broadcaster and go live. Then similarly to YouTube, the audience’s feedback would determine the successful voices. And that was the core idea for YourCall.
How does ATL weave into your story?
We did not consider founding the company anywhere else. Despite being transplants, Joe and I really love it here and have enjoyed raising our families here. Our time at Turner has also given us access to prominent industry experts in Atlanta who have helped mold and grow the concept into a real business.