by featured blogger Niral Patel
You’ve never heard of Silver Chalice Ventures. But the buzzwords linked to companies like it are more than familiar—disruptive innovation, streaming services, digital distribution—to anyone that wants to work in sports media. Look out for this small but mighty company as sports media continues its evolution.
Hundreds of fresh tech startups were born in 2009—location-based app Foursquare and music streaming service MOG are a couple of the more memorable ones. Many of them are now shuttered or have been acquired by more ambitious competitors; others like Chicago-based Silver Chalice Ventures (SCV) are still thriving behind superb leadership and forward-thinking technology. SCV, a wholly owned subsidiary of Chicago White Sox Ltd., is mixing technology with media to own and operate several digital networks. Just as interesting—and maybe even more promising—is what their SportsLab group is cooking up.
The executives at Silver Chalice Ventures aren’t a board of suits-and-ties that only know profit and loss statements and marketing rhetoric. The leadership team lives sports and understands tech. Company chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who also owns the Bulls and White Sox, has backed SCV as his next big bet. CEO Brooks Boyer—one of three co-founders—also serves as the Chief Marketing Office of the White Sox. SCV’s other two co-founders, Jason Coyle and John Burris, have decades of experience in sports, media and technology including mobile platforms, made-for-digital video and digital media sales. Silver Chalice Ventures’ powerhouse executive team brings in partnerships that might otherwise be hard to come by. The people story is good; the product story is even better.
120 Sports, Campus Insiders and The ACC Digital Network are all-digital sports networks produced by Silver Chalice Ventures. With partners like Apple, SI.com, Yahoo! Sports, Amazon and Roku the online streaming networks have connected over 40 million fans to uniquely crafted sports content. 120 Sports features “sports news, highlights and live look-ins, all integrated with real-time social conversation…” while Campus Insiders brings the world of college sports to fans that can’t, or don’t want to, spend their evenings in front of a TV. Thousands of live events, video on demand (VOD) and high-quality studio programming makes it a suitable replacement for more mainstream broadcast shows. Its third offering, The ACC Digital Network, is a step into a very promising niche market. The official digital presence of the Atlantic Coast Conference—the ACC website is powered by the SportsLab team—pushes VOD capabilities to the extreme. These three networks, and the ones that will follow, are a proof of concept. Each serves as a showroom for business onlookers wondering which digital content management system they should partner with next. Sports organizations and media content producers wonder if the folks at Silver Chalice Ventures have the technological horsepower to help lift sports media into the age of digital-first content. Enter the team at SportsLab.
The SportsLab is based out of Boulder, a Colorado city that’s hopping with tech-focused startups. Every technology-based sports startup has an angle, something that makes them uniquely capable of impacting fans’ lives in some small way. SportsLab claims to “have built a proprietary Advanced Media Platform that is changing the sports technology landscape.” That Advanced Media Platform (AMP) is their secret sauce, a vast content management system—think WordPress, Squarespace and Drupal—designed to better handle what internet-goers care most about, video.
High-quality live streaming and video on demand sets the platform apart from its competitors. SportsLab promises live, and on-demand, video and audio along with up to the minute scores and stats. Beyond the way the team implements its technology, that offering in itself isn’t exactly unique. But the way their engineers manage the data while allowing integrated social sharing, real-time messaging and a simple-yet-powerful tool to monetize content helps SportsLab standout. This growing part of the Chicago White Sox family is showing off the power of AMP with in-house networks like 120 Sports but the leadership team has much bigger dreams. The development of slick sports mobile and tablet apps and a powerful digital video distribution hub will lure in new partners that want SportsLab to bring their sports content to more fans in more places.
It isn’t about buzzwords. But also, it is. A scalable, web responsive, next-gen sports content solution by an upstart like Silver Chalice Ventures makes the fan experience better. The nimble arm of the White Sox can react fast to fan demand. The way we view sports is changing. It’s a slow transition but more-and-more fans are using online applications like WatchESPN and FOX Sports GO to watch live sports and catch up on news, highlights and analysis. Companies like Silver Chalice Ventures are challenging the status quo and that alone creates more sports jobs and makes the edges of our world just a little more fascinating.