WinView Games — a free-to-play, advertising-based live sports betting app — announced that it has closed a $3.4 million Series A round of equity financing last week.
WinView had planned on going live for the 2015 NFL season, but that plan got put off by a year.
The new funding for WinView
That round of funding was led by a couple of people with deep backgrounds in the entertainment world:
- Tom Rogers, chairman of TiVo, Inc.
- Hank Ratner, vice chairman of Cablevision Systems Corp. and former CEO of The Madison Square Garden Company.
The round brings WinView past $6 million in funding.
According to a press release accompanying the funding round, “proceeds of the investment will be used to complete development and launch the WinView Games app coinciding with the 2016 professional football season.”
Sports betting, but no betting
Legal Sports Report broke down how WinView works in 2015, but here’s a look at the model, at a glance:
- Free model: Users can make predictions on sporting events and win prizes, but without entry fees or wagers.
- In-game: Sports predictions are offered via the app and made by users in real time. Per the press release, “all of the games WinView covers are produced in a live studio environment by game producers based on what is happening in real time on the playing field.”
- Advertising-based: The business model is currently based on attracting advertisers, who facilitate prizes.
WinView CEO David Lockton broke down why he is a big believer in the product:
“Technology and market conditions are now converging and giving rise to position our app, which is uniquely synchronized with live TV, to be a huge mobile engagement and revenue generation opportunity for the networks, leagues and advertisers involved, especially those seeking the coveted young adult male audience. WinView will be a premium gateway for advertisers to access viewers on the second screen.”
WinView also hopes to position itself for legal sports betting in the U.S., should federal law (PASPA) ever allow that. Eventually WinView hopes to offer contests for sports other than football.
In-play model, already tested in Europe
The WinView app is based on the PlayToTV platform by European firm Ex Machina Group, “used by multiple hit reality and entertainment TV programs around the world with millions of simultaneous users,” according to WinView.
European bettors are already very familiar with in-game sports betting — up to half of wagers on soccer are placed “in-game,” according to the New York Daily News.
But it’s a concept largely foreign to Americans, as it hasn’t even taken off in a big way in the sports betting mecca of Nevada.
The two-screen experience is king?
Daily fantasy sports has proved that the second-screen experience is a valuable one for engaging fans. Users set their teams and follow along with how they do in real time.
But WinView, like other in-game products, relies on the added engagement its app offers while games are going on. Instead of just following a team, users are actually making decisions. WinView leverages 26 patents for synchronizing TV and a second screen.
The new investors in WinView emphasize the second-screen component.
“Millions of people in the U.S. are already using a second screen, checking stats while they watch, which has set the stage for this next big leap in sports television, enabling the viewer, unlike fantasy, to play along in real time with the live game itself,” Rogers said in the release.
“For the millions of fantasy players, once the live action starts, they are locked out, and there is no way to enjoy competing based on the live action itself, until now,” he added. “It’s remarkable that it has taken this long for mobile technology in the U.S. to catch up with the innate consumer desire to play along as a live game unfolds by predicting what will happen.”
When will in-game turn the corner in the U.S.?
WinView is not the first “in-game” product to market in the U.S. For example:
- Fanamana offers in-game fantasy sports for baseball
- RingIt! by iPro offers a hybrid of fantasy sports and prop betting, with a free-play model.
Some in the U.S., including NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, were previously bullish on the in-game model.
Will this be the year that WinView or another platform starts building on the promise of “betting” on live action? We might find out starting this fall.