Silver Chalice Looks For Digital Gold
By: Tanner Simkins
In recent years the buzzwords in sports business were things like “Daily Fantasy,” and “OTT,” 2016 is clearly shaping up as the year of streaming. From new platforms like Amazon getting involved in the sports space, to the focus on digital during the Rio Olympics to the flurry of deals announced with Facebook Live and Twitter, the non-traditional engagement platforms are gaining speed from the largest of properties to the most niche.
One of those companies growing quickly in the space is Silver Chalice. Founded in 2009 the Chicago-based company had a goal to create television-quality video in partnership with rights holders and other dominant players in the sports media industry to a fast-growing digital first world. Led by Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and his co-owners of the Chicago White Sox, Silver Chalice owns and operates Campus Insiders, SportsLabs, the ACC Digital Network in partnership with Raycom Sports and the Atlantic Coast Conference, and 120 Sports in partnership with MLBAM, the NHL, Time Inc. / Sports Illustrated, the PGA TOUR. They also recently received an infusion of investment dollars from BAMTECH to grow the businesses even further, and have announced a slew of deals, including a Twitter streaming partnership and the moving of its “Morning Run” news and information show to New York.
We caught up with Dana Golden, EVP, Business Development. to find out more about the goings-on with Silver Chalice and its growing list of partners.
This is the latest in a series of announcements that really positions the Silver Chalice properties for growth in the digital space. How did these come about in such a rapid fire succession, and what are the first things people will notice?
The recent flurry of announcements reflects the demand for high quality sports content in the digital space and the emergence of OTT products and platforms to support the demand. Our content offering is unique in that we deliver live programming like a linear cable network but also provide timely video on demand news content with the best plays and game highlights to support what fans are talking about. People will notice our time to market with quality video content that is easily discoverable by team, sport, athlete, coach, conference, trending hashtags and more.
How do you think the Twitter announcement will impact traffic for the platforms?
What’s unique about Twitter is that you have certified fans of schools already talking about their teams, the plays, the score, game reactions and more. By streaming games directly on our network and conference handles, the Twitter platform becomes the first screen experience and delivers a more engaged audience that can converse with each other and share insights with both fans and rivals. We know the power of social media sharing and we believe Twitter has the opportunity to drive viewership and followers to our network through our live games and shoulder programing.
You have some very powerful partners with great content. How will that content be used differently or more effectively going forward?
From the Mountain West to the Patriot League to the West Coast Conference and now with the addition of Conference USA, we do, in fact, have great Conference partners. On the 120 Sports front, we have very strong partnerships in place with 20+ professional leagues, everyone from MLB to the UFC to the Professional Bowlers Association. We’re proud of these partnerships and believe together we can deliver tremendous value to sports fans across the country. Being able to lean into MLBAM’s array of technology will no doubt allow us to bring a better experience to distributors, sponsors and fans. Time will tell how these experiences will manifest themselves over the next few years, but we are excited about the possibilities.
Campus Insiders has built a treasure trove of content on its own, will this week’s announcement provide assets to get into more rights deals than already exist?
We’re very proud of the live game schedule that we have built at Campus Insiders since our launch. We started with zero games in 2013 to this year when we anticipate streaming over 3200 games. A large part of our success to date has been the commitment of our conference partners in embracing forward-thinking partnerships with long-term goals. With the BAMTech announcement, Campus Insider is poised to grow and we look forward to adding to our live game portfolio, as rights become available.
What does Morning Run moving to New York do for the show in terms of content, and for the visibility of 120 Sports?
Moving the Morning Run from Chicago to New York gives 120 Sports a daily presence in two of the biggest sports markets in the country. This will not only allow us to be closer to our partners, but enable us to tap into the biggest names in sports while they’re in town. We’re excited about the possibilities.
BAMTECH had already made a Disney announcement and ESPN tied to that an ACC Network deal for the future, and Silver Chalice has the ACC Digital Network. Will there be collaborations on content between the ACC, ESPN and Silver Chalice going forward?
For the ACC Digital Network, it’s business as usual. Since its launch in 2011, the ACCDN has always been the go-to source for all things ACC: from previews, to recaps, to Must See Moments, the ACCDN produces the most comprehensive video-on-demand segments in the market today. We don’t expect that to change.
120 Sports launched to much fanfare, then retooled and went quiet and now is very prominent again. Where would we expect to see 120 in the digital media conversationin six month to a year and why?
Since we launched in June 2014, we have been focused on making the 120 Sports product and content better every single day. That work will continue to happen. Today, 120 Sports produces more than 40 hours of live and original programming each week and distributes over 100 VOD segments each day. That is a tremendous amount of content that is unheard of for a digital sports business. As we launch on additional platforms and become a fixture of OTT services, we expect 120 Sports will become part of the daily sports conversation, the place where fans of all ages find the best highlights, analysis and production. As digital sports consumption grows, we expect 120 Sports to grow as well.
With all the content and partnerships now on the table, what is the most valuable piece of the business SC has and why?
Clearly, the Campus Insiders’ live games are at the core of our offering. However, we also pride ourselves on the studio operations that 120 Sports, Campus Insiders and the ACC Digital Network have created. Day in, day out, these teams are producing very compelling, footage-driven highlights and feature story telling that compares with any sports cable television network. So it’s not really one or the other that is most valuable to our business, but the combination of our live games AND the shoulder programming that we produce that creates the best fan experience.
For those new to the platform for this fall. What’s the one thing, or two things, you will tell brands and consumers to watch for?
As noted previously, we have announced a flurry of deal activity across our network portfolio over the last few weeks. Up next is launching these platforms and actually making them available to those that matter the most: that is, the sports fan. Last week, Campus Insiders launched on Sling TV and we were very proud to stream the first college football game on Twitter on September 1st. Expect more launches throughout the fall and more live games on Twitter. It’s a very exciting time in our business!