The Startup Set To Change How You Watch Sports

Buzzer, a new live sports platform built on micropayments, officially secured live rights to NHL games and the PGA Tour yesterday. Today's email breaks down why it matters.

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Buzzer, a new live sports platform built on micropayments and interest-driven mobile notifications, officially secured live rights to National Hockey League (NHL) games and the PGA Tour yesterday.

Before we get into what Buzzer does and why it’s important, let’s set the stage.

When I think about the future of live sports consumption, three main statistics help shape my view.

  1. The average attention span of a human is eight seconds, down 25% in just two decades and reportedly now less than a goldfish (9 seconds).

  2. NFL and MLB games last more than 3 hours on average yet have just 11 and 18 minutes of live-action, respectively — meaning 90% of time spent watching an NFL or MLB game is without live-action occurring.

  3. With 85% of Generation Z consuming content on YouTube, estimates suggest that by 2024 roughly 50% of all U.S. TV households will have cut the cord or never had traditional pay-TV.

The result?

A generational divide in live sports consumption.

Older generations still prefer to consume live long-form content through linear television, while younger generations tend to watch short highlight-style clips through social platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and more.

The traditional sports distribution model—built on live games—is set up to inevitably die a slow and painful death. Media rights are getting more expensive by the day. Ratings continue to decline despite an increase in demand during the pandemic. Cable cords are being cut or not installed at all.

Even worse?

Almost 50% of Gen Z (Age 13-23) say they don’t even consider themselves a sports fan.

That’s a recipe for disaster.

As the younger generation marches their way towards the majority, and sports leagues and TV networks continue to search for new ways to connect with them, we’ve seen platforms like House of Highlights and Overtime excel.

But there is just one problem…

If linear television caters to an older generation interested in watching the entire game, and highlight-style platforms cater to a younger sports fan interested in short clips, what about sports fans that inherently want a mix of both?

That’s where a platform like Buzzer comes in.

Founded by former Twitter exec Bo Han, Buzzer wants to sit between traditional live viewing on linear television and the more quick-hitting concept of highlights you see on social media.

Say you’re a fan of multiple teams but don’t necessarily have time to watch the entire game. Buzzer will notify you, based on personalized data and notifications, when an important moment is about to happen. If you want to join, you can either authenticate through an existing subscription model (cable, ESPN+, YouTubeTV, etc.) or agree to a micropayment, starting at $0.99, to watch exactly what you want to watch.

The best part?

They work as a complement to traditional media rights holders, rather than a competitor, helping to maximize their value through additional viewers and providing a younger generation of fans increased access to the best moments in sports.

Through a unique combination of data and personalized notifications — built on top of the current sports ecosystem — Buzzer hopes to be the driving force that brings Gen Z back into the fold.

Ultimately, the announcement of licensing partnerships with the NHL and the PGA Tour are just a first step toward that ambitious goal. I doubt they’ll be the last.

Only time will tell if Buzzer’s model attracts the young audience that legacy TV networks so badly desire, but while everyone searches for a solution, I certainly wouldn’t bet against some much-needed innovation.

As professional sports leagues and the companies that distribute their content start to understand the value that Buzzer can provide through additional viewers, I’d expect more partnerships to be announced in the future.

In the end, whether Buzzer proves to be the next big thing or not, intellectual capital working together to create additional options for consumers is a good thing. That’s what I’m excited about.

Have a great day, and we’ll talk tomorrow.

If you want to sign up for Buzzer’s waitlist, you can check it out here.

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