Is a showcase of cutting-edge media startups an anachronism at a conference founded by a broadcast association that originated in 1923?
Maybe so, but the Sprockit showcase at the annual National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference is proving to be a valuable launch pad for a variety of new-media video companies looking to break into the mass market.
Backed by a consortium of corporate media industry power players including AARP, Comcast, Cox Media, Disney/ABC Television Group, Gannett Company, Google, Hearst Television and Univision, Sprockit aims to give exposure and opportunity for startups to conduct business, raise their profile and also set up private meetings with influential businesses.
Gaining the attention of the old guard through exposure at the event has proven invaluable to getting its new cross-platform sports content network off the ground, says Whistle Sports EVP Brian Selander.
Whistle, a cross-platform sports content network, may currently have 13.6 million subscribers and 54 million social media followers, but back in 2013 it was one of the initial startups invited to participate in the inaugural Sprockit showcase.
“We were in the inaugural Sprockit class before we even formally launched our network on January 1, 2014,” he recalls. “Being declared one of the most ‘revolutionary’ and ‘market-ready’ startups by a group of judges that established, helped establish us as well.”
“At that point, we had multiple agreements with pro sports leagues, a few of which had already become equity partners in Whistle Sports,” Selander told StreamDaily. “We also had a clear path forward for how we would be launching in a new way – on multiple digital platforms instead of more broadcast and cable – and how we knew how quickly we would scale.
“However, we had no established subscriber base, no creators announced as part of the network and no advertisers. The Sprockit designation gave legitimacy to our growth plan and meant that the conversations we had with more traditional media were taken more seriously.”
Of the 37 startups invited to Sprockit since 2013, success stories include SocialNewsDesk, a newsroom social media platform acquired by Graham Media Group; Watchup, a startup that delivers personalized newscasts to Internet video devices, and raised $2.75 million in funding through Sprockit corporate member Tribune Media; as well as social intelligence and visualization company Wayin that closed a $13.1 million round in Series C funding last year.
The success stories are music to Sprockit founder, director and CEO Harry Glazer’s ears.
“With Sprockit, we want to shine a spotlight on the most disruptive startups and help them collaborate with leaders in the industry. We’re not an incubator, accelerator or a competition. It’s an invitation-only, trusted community of elite startups and iconic companies,” says Glazer.
Supported by such businesses as Angel Capital Association, Boston Consulting Group, Ernst & Young, Interactive Television Alliance, National Venture Capital Association and many others, each startup is
“Each startup offers innovative, market-ready mobile, web and/or cloud-based technologies that are already gaining traction and many have already been recognized by industry leaders, funders and consumers for the quality of their offering. Sprockit helps them extend their reach and business model.”
So, who made the cut for 2015?
aioTV is an over-the-top (OTT) video platform; Bcast is a next generation social broadcasting network, platform and application; Dataclay, an automation systems provider; Fluendo, a multimedia software company; TV data management platform Psychability; publisher Reveal; mobile and web platform Stringr; social video advertising platform Unruly; story tease video software company Videolicious and real-time video screen and trafficking platform Yottio.
The deadline for submitting Sprockit applications is February 20. This year’s NAB is scheduled for April 11-16 in Las Vegas.