Content Marketers Using Insight on Fan Excitement to Drive Decisions

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Thuuz Sports is an AI-based metadata and content curation platform for sports content owners and distributors. Their proprietary technology generates automated highlight packages, offers intelligence to content marketers and is used to enhance broadcaster programming guides. JohnWallStreet sat down with Wayne Sieve, EVP of Thuuz Sports to discuss how simply understanding if a game was exciting, is exciting or will be exciting is valuable insight for companies like ESPN+, DirecTV, DAZN and Sling TV.

JWS: Explain how Thuuz measures fan excitement?

Wayne: We built a data science and methodology around measuring game excitement using a simple measurement scale, zero to 100 with 50 being average and 100 being off the charts exciting. As a process, we ingest enormous amounts of third party data – including play by play, social, betting, audio and video – and then we apply our own AI against the data collected. We do our own numerical modeling, predictive records and machine learning, and then perform the data analysis to measure everything from the pace of play, to the quality of the teams playing and the context of the match. We end up with what we call sports event metadata offering a snapshot of fan excitement, in real time, from the home team’s fan standpoint, the away team’s fan standpoint and the neutral fan’s point of view; think of it as something like Rotten Tomato ratings.

JWS: How does a broadcaster take Thuuz’s insight and turn it into something actionable?

Wayne: If a broadcaster knows if a game was exciting, is exciting or is expected to be exciting, they’re able to create a more personalized programming guide. In addition to the score for each fan POV, our technology machine produces 3 headlines for each of the different fan vantage points explaining why the game is rated as such. From there, the broadcaster can use push notifications to drive viewer tune-in.

Marketers can also use the metadata to determine which assets within a programming portfolio should be promoted, insight that leads to better sell-through and conversion rates.

JWS: Thuuz introduced a highlight machine for the 2018 World Cup enabling users to create their own SportsCenter; the teams, games, players and duration were all customizable. Is this the future of how sports fans will get their highlights?

Wayne: I think it’s a very compelling direction that a lot of content owners should think about going. We’re getting to a point where people are demanding (or certainly are more compelled by) having a personalized experience, especially the younger audience. The days of simply programming what you think audiences are going to like and saying, here it is and that’s all you get, are coming to an end. If you enable a viewer to create their own programming, to have them involved and engaged with the content creation process, then they’re more interested, they’re more engaged and they will interact for longer periods of time. Customizable highlights provide a phenomenal product experience for fans and I think that’s where the market is going and should be going.

JWS: From a consumer standpoint, Thuuz’s most valuable feature is the ability to “catch up to live.” Explain why it’s a “game changer” for programmers in their efforts to engage the fan?

Wayne: Let’s say you stumble across a football game and it’s 28-28 in the middle of the third quarter and are wondering how it got to this point. Our technology enables the viewer to curate and view personalized game highlights in real-time, so they can watch the balance of the game unfold live; a feature that had not previously existed. I think offering a game summary is quite important as a next step in the evolution of how to engage with the fan, because unless you started at the beginning of the game, you don’t know how you got there. I think you’re going to see widespread adoption as the technology becomes more refined.

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: Thuuz’s World Cup highlight machine remains active on the Fox Sports website. Select your favorite teams, players, matches and play types (i.e. goals, saves) and enjoy your personal highlight film.

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Thuuz Sports Metadata Algorithm Ranks Most Exciting Teams, Games in ’18 World Cup

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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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Most Followed Sports Media Brand on Social Media Adds DevinSuperTramp

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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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