SBJ/November 5-11, 2012/Media

Sporting News buys into youth sports app

Sporting News has made a significant equity investment in Burst, a Boston-based digital media company that makes software apps to develop user-generated content around youth sports events.

Think YouTube merged with ESPN’s “SportsCenter” for kids and Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd. Or, think of how people use Instagram to manipulate photos. Sporting News wants people to use Burst to manipulate youth sports videos in a similar way.

Burst Out will allow users to post youth sports videos on the Sporting News website.
“We think we can expose a whole new generation of sports fans and athletes to our site in a way that will be personally relevant to them,” said Sporting News President and Publisher Jeff Price. “We think this is at the heart of where user-generated content can be really valuable.”

Sporting News becomes the lead strategic investor in Burst. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the companies expect to collect revenue from sponsorship elements that are built within the app.

Sporting News is owned and operated by American City Business Journals, parent company of SportsBusiness Journal/Daily.

Burst will use Sporting News’ investment to launch Burst Sports. Using this app, people can create highlight packages and share videos from youth sports events and games they attend. The app creates a “bubble” that allows specific people to share and watch all the videos taken from one game. If you missed the play when your child scored a touchdown, this is where you could see if someone else shot video of it.

The “bubble” lets parents pick out videos of their kids and post them on social media sites like Facebook or email them to friends.

“So much of our world is filled with broadcasting, the opportunities that narrowcasting present are incredible,” said Bryant McBride, CEO of Burst. “The opportunities to narrowcast are incredible and they are not tapped. It’s one of the last frontiers of sports — to be able to easily capture it, share it and save it, and curate it and index it.”

The Burst app, which is available for free via iPhone and Android, also allows people to cut the videos into a highlight real with a couple of clicks.

One of the more interesting applications will be Burst Out, which will allow users to post youth sports videos on sportingnews.com. Sporting News will select the five best videos in three categories: best effort, best spirit and best plays. It will allow the site’s visitors to vote for the Burst Moment of the Week.

“We’ll interview the winner each week via Skype, so these kids are actually going to be featured,” Price said. “Thanks to ESPN, everybody in the world knows what a sports highlight is, but very few people in the world today can actually create a highlight that would be ESPN worthy. Burst will enable you to do that.”

Ultimately, Sporting News plans to build a presenting sponsorship opportunity around Burst Out.

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