Thuuz Sports, an automated short form sports video production company and metadata service, in collaboration with IBM and Fox Sports measured the excitement levels of all teams/games throughout the World Cup; using the insights gained to create customizable highlights in real time. The proprietary algorithm determined that Spain (scored 93.5), runner-up Croatia (91) and Belgium (91) were the most exciting teams to participate in the 2018 World Cup (France finished 7th); game pace, team parity, play novelty, momentum shifts, social buzz and historical context of all matchups throughout the tournament were all considered. The Croatia-Russia match received a perfect score of 100, making it the tournament’s most exciting matchup. You’ve heard the term, ‘the excitement was palpable’; as CEO Warren Packard says, “we can now verify it.”
Howie Long-Short: Thuuz, a privately held entity, has raised $10.7 million over 2 rounds of funding. You can play the company via Liberty Global (LBTYK), who led their $4.2 million Series A round in ’12 or through ITOCHU Technology Ventures; the VC arm of Itochu Corporation. Itochu is among the largest Japanese general trading companies (#215 on ’17 Fortune Global 500 list), with an expertise in textiles, metals/minerals, food, machinery, energy/chemicals and ICT/general products/real estate; the company trades over the counter under the symbol ITOCY.
Fan Marino: France finished 7th despite winning the tournament, because overall suspense/surprise throughout all team matches carries the most weight in the algorithm. That’s logical. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who says the Warriors run to the NBA Championship was more exciting than the Eagles run to the Super Bowl. Expectations, or the lack thereof, matter.
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Whistle Sports has signed Devin Graham, better known as DevinSuperTramp, to create branded original content (including some longer-form) for the post-millennial sports network. The Whistle Sports Network (WSN), which produces, curates and distributes sports-related content (across social, digital and TV) for a youth audience, will add Graham to its talented network (500+) of creators (think: Dude Perfect, Nitro Circus). The extreme sports film-maker with a reputation for producing viral content for some of the world’s biggest brands (see: Ford, Intel), will bring a loyal following to the “most-followed (170 million subs/followers) sports media brand on social media”; 9 million followers across various social platforms, including 4.9 million YouTube channel subscribers. Content delivered by WSN generates +/- 2 million views per month.
Howie Long-Short: Whistle Sports remains privately held, but the company has raised $80.5 million to date; with much of the capital coming from publicly traded companies. iHeartMedia, Inc. (OTC: IHRTQ) participated in the company’s seed round, Sky (SKYAY) and Liberty Global (LBTYA) invested in their $28 million Series B round, and both Tegna, Inc. (TGNA, formerly Gannett) and NBC Sports Ventures (CMCSA, led round) invested in the company’s most raise; a $27.5 million Series C round in January 2017.
Fan Marino: Whistle Sports and DevinSuperTramp previously collaborated on a Super Bowl commercial for Pepsi and Papa John’s Pizza, a project called “The World’s Longest Touchdown Catch.” In the viral video (2.6 million views), Joe Montana throws a spiral out of an airplane cruising 14,000’ over California. A team of skydivers jump out after the loose ball, battling for it as they free-fall towards the earth’s surface. I won’t spoil who comes down with “The Catch”, but you can watch the video (and find out who grabs it), here.
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