The future of local sport
I’ve been obsessed with sport since I can remember. One of my first memories was receiving the full 1994 Chelsea kit for Christmas and my teenager years were dominated by rugby and cricket. My fascination with sports psychology lead to me studying sports science at University, where I got bored and ended up starting a website aiming to provide media coverage for student sport by live streaming matches. Falling into the roller coast world of startups, the murky waters of broadcasting rights, the stark reality of failing before a period of reflection.
In the years since that venture finished I’ve realised a number of things about myself and the sport industry.
Firstly, the financials gap between professional and local sport has been drifting further and further apart for a number of years. When I was an early teenager my Dad, who used to be our football club treasurer, and would send out hundreds of begging letters out each year hoping someone would sponsor us so we could buy new kit. During the same period I watched Chelsea FC be bought by Roman Abramovich and, over night, became the richest football club in the world.
The rugby club where I spent most of late teenage years never had the money to own their own facilities, so couldn’t only get promoted beyond a certain league. Whilst under the guidance of Clive Woodward and Jonny Wilkinson’s right boot, England won the Rugby Union World Cup and Hollywood fame.
My startup could never find a way to make money from live streaming university matches, whilst last year BT paid out £3Billion for the Football Premiership TV rights. Worst of all, the UK funding for sport continues to focus more on winning medals rather than participation in local sports club and the gap continues to widen.
Secondly, I realised the power of technology and started to understand the current and future world that we live in, where we carry an object in our pocket that can connect everyone (and everything!) together to do some amazing things faster and more efficiently than ever before.
Thirdly, and most importantly, I learnt that ideas are cheap. They mean nothing if you don’t do something about them. With The Eleven now set up to test and develop new ideas, I’m excited to let you know we are piloting a new idea that we think can change sport for the better.
We’re calling it Grandstand.
We believe you should be able to watch video highlights of any sports match anywhere and local sports clubs should be able to make money from showing highlights of their matches, just like the professional teams do.
We’re building a solution for that to happen. It’s very simple. To start with any clubs who already film their matches will be able to upload their unedited video to our site, which will automatically produce a highlights video and fans will be able pay a small subscription to watch those highlights. The money from subscribers then goes back to the club each month.
This week we launch with a few select clubs and we’re signing up more club who would like to be involved first. If that’s you, please contact us.
We hope what we’re building is the start of making highlights of every local sport match available to watch and bringing in a much needed new revenue stream for grass root sport.
We believe that one day you’ll be able to watch any sports match at anytime, anywhere in the world and any club will be able to make money from broadcasting their matches.
It’s 2014. We think it’s about time.