SBD/May 16, 2014/Finance

Stephen Ross' FanVision Could Acquire YinzCam; Effect On NFL Remains Unclear

Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross’ FanVision is in talks to acquire YinzCam, which develops in-stadium apps for 25 NFL teams, as well as clubs in other leagues. A source said that the negotiations, which stem from settlement talks over a patent lawsuit Ross’ company filed in '12 against YinzCam, are nearing a close. NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy confirmed the league has scheduled a presentation for Tuesday’s owners meeting on FanVision/YinzCam. When Ross bought FanVision in '10, he expected it to quickly catch on in the NFL and presented personally to his fellow owners about the technology. FanVision rented or sold handheld devices at sporting events that showed replays and highlights, as well as offering stats. However, it quickly was overtaken by smart phone apps that offered similar features for free. Two years ago, Ross’ Kangaroo Media, which owns FanVision, sued YinzCam in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, alleging patent violations. YinzCam denied the charges. Settlement discussions began last year, and last month the two parties told the court they were close to a deal. The parties wrote to the court, “This agreement is tentative pending approval by YinzCam’s investors.” A source close to the talks said that what the investors are considering is an acquisition. YinzCam Founder & CEO Priya Narasimhan in an e-mail wrote, “Several companies have shown an interest in partnering with, and/or buying, YinzCam. Unfortunately, I cannot comment on any particular one.” RSE Ventures CEO Matt Higgins, who oversees Ross’ sports assets, declined to comment. It is unclear if NFL teams might have any concerns that a fellow owner controls their app developer, presuming the acquisition occurs. Many of the functions offered by YinzCam are key to the league’s efforts to get fans in the stadium by offering features that previously were only available at home, such as different camera angles.
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