Data Point: 120%
By late 2010, the digital properties of TV sports channel, theScore, had almost 1.5 million monthly users, two of the world’s most popular sports apps for BlackBerry and iPhone — serving up a mobile-optimized player, team, game and event scores, news, betting lines and commentary — and their advertising revenue made up 15% of theScore’s total. In the eyes of John Levy, CEO and largest shareholder of Score Media Inc., theScore’s digital ad sales had the potential to eclipse TV revenue in three to five years.
But Mr. Levy would have to make sure he and his partners positioned the company and its products the best way possible in order to unlock and maximize value.
Mr. Levy needed tangible results to justify putting the company’s digital properties front and centre. He found it in theScore App’s rate of user growth and audience makeup in 2010. Specifically, from Sept. 2009 to Sept. 2010, the app’s monthly active user totals jumped 120%, to 1.4 million per month. And most of those were in the U.S. “We saw the numbers coming in quicker than we expected,” says John Levy. “And three for one they’re coming from the States. And it was like: ‘Wow, we’ve really got a tiger by the tail.’”
The growth in 2010 validated the product strategy. theScore’s apps were selling themselves in the U.S., without any TV presence. Therefore, the immediate challenge there became a matter of repeating, refining and building out the formula. More features, alerts, tools, commentary, personalization; a new soccer app to test global waters — all of these moves pushed monthly visits past three million.
Progress was bumpier on the company front. Last August minority partner Rogers Media announced it would buy the TV channel but the purchase didn’t include theScore App or thescore.com. Instead, Levy, Rogers and other former Score Media shareholders spun those off into a new company, theScore Inc.
Today, unique monthly visits to theScore’s mobile apps and web are around 4.2-million.
In April, theScore Inc. closed a $16-million financing deal led by Relay Ventures, a mobile-focused venture capital fund based in Toronto and Palo Alto, California. In one swoop, the investment validates the business and the spinoff strategy. John Levy says the first thing they’ll do with the money is expand theScore’s sales and marketing presence in the U.S. “It’s time to get the messaging out.”