AI Video Creator WSC Sports Receives $100 Million in Funding to Buoy Hiring and Increase Betting Presence

By Joe Lemire

WSC Sports, the automated video clip creator, has raised a $100 million Series D funding round led by ION Crossover Partners and including follow-on investments from existing partners such as Intel Capital, Dan Gilbert’s Detroit Venture Partners and OG Tech, the family office of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer. 

 WSC Sports uses artificial intelligence to tag key actions in sporting events and automatically generate highlights and other customized short-form videos. Its partners major sports leagues and broadcasters such as NBA, NHL, NASCAR, MLS, ESPN, YouTube TV, Bundesliga, Tencent and Bleacher Report. In 2021, the platform created 3.4 million highlights—an average of 400 per hour, every hour, all year long. 

 The new capital is slated to help WSC Sports continue its aggressive growth, which includes adding 150 more employees to their headquarters in Tel Aviv and satellite offices in New York, London and Sydney. The 2018 SportTechie Award winner for Outstanding Sports Technology exceeded 200 global clients in 2021 and is making a larger push into sports betting. 

Coinbase’s Super Bowl QR Code Commercial Generates Record Response

By Andrew Cohen

More than 20 million people over the span of one minute visited Coinbase’s landing page following the company’s QR code ad during Super Bowl LVI. The volume was more than six-times higher than the previous high of traffic on Coinbase and resulted in the company’s app crashing temporarily.

“Our engineering teams load-tested our site to handle millions of simultaneous hits. The volume we experienced was astounding in comparison to our projections,” Coinbase CMO Kate Rouch said in a blog post on Monday. 

The 60-second ad featured a bouncing QR code on a black background that was reminiscent of an old DVD player screensaver. The code brought users to Coinbase’s site to access $15 in free Bitcoin for signing up as a new user, while existing users could join a $3 million sweepstakes.

Our core inspiration for the ad was the curiosity and intimidation we know many people have about crypto,” Rouch said. “We hope people found it in turn surprising, confounding and delightful.”

Coinbase signed a multi-year deal last year to become the exclusive cryptocurrency partner of the NBA and WNBA. The NFL does not have a deal with a cryptocurrency exchange, but CNBC reported on Friday that the league lobbied the Securities and Exchange Commission on “issues related to blockchain technology” from July through December last year.

PGA Tour and PointsBet Launch Free Prediction Game

By Dominic Massimino

The PGA Tour and betting partner PointsBet have brought a new free-to-play golf prediction game to market. PGA Tour Pick ‘Em Live will allow fans to pick overall winners, group winners and head-to-head competitions during PGA Tour events, with a points system determined by odds from PointsBet. 

Beginning Feb. 15 ahead of the Genesis Invitational, fans can win a guaranteed $5,000 in weekly prizes. PGA Tour Pick ‘Em Live was developed by Low6, which builds branded, free-to-play games for sports teams. The game will launch on the PGA Tour’s mobile app and website. It will also be integrated into, and Golf Channel. 

Last year, PointsBet bought Banach Technology to boost in-play betting offerings. PointsBet also expanded its betting data deal with Sportradar in December.

San Francisco 49ers Alert Law Enforcement After Reported Cyber Attack of the Team’s Financial Data

By Andrew Cohen

Ransomware gang BlackByte claims to have stolen financial data from the San Francisco 49ers. The cyber criminal group posted internal documents it stole from the NFL team to a site on the dark web, according to the Associated Press. 

The 49ers notified law enforcement about the attack and hired cybersecurity firms for assistance. The team said that the incident disrupted its corporate IT network systems, but does not believe that data connected to its home stadium was compromised. 

“To date, we have no indication that this incident involves systems outside of our corporate network, such as those connected to Levi’s Stadium operations or ticket holders,” the 49ers said in a statement on Super Bowl Sunday. 

The FBI and U.S. Secret Service released a security alert on BlackByte on Friday, two days before news of this attack on the 49ers. In 2020, the hacking group OurMine posted messages from the NFL’s official Twitter account and social media accounts belonging to about half of the league’s teams. 

Just Did It: Nike Led All Brands In Screen Time During Super Bowl, According to Automated Valuation Survey

By Joe Lemire

Consulting firm Elevate Sports Ventures partnered with cloud-based AI provider Hive for a brand valuation study using automatic logo detection during the Super Bowl broadcast, identifying more than 75 minutes of exposure beyond the traditional commercials at an equivalent media value of $170 million. 

The data was compiled by Hive’s Mensio intelligence platform, which reported that 19 brands received more than 10 seconds of screen time during the Super Bowl LVI telecast on NBC. Nike, which is the NFL’s on-field apparel provider, led the way with a total of 46 minutes, 37 seconds of screen time while Pepsi, the halftime show sponsor, received 11 on-air mentions—the same number as the second- and third-most-mentioned brands, Toyota and SoFi, received combined (Toyota sponsored NBC’s halftime report; SoFi is the naming rights partner for the game venue). 

News coverage and highlights will amplify the exposure, with the report projecting that every minute of screen time in the game leads to roughly four minutes of additional exposure, based on last year’s Super Bowl. Elevate and Hive noted that apparel brands accounted for two-thirds of brand exposures, led by Nike but also including Oakley, New Era, Adidas, Under Armour and Air Jordan. 

Elevate Sports Ventures is a joint venture of the San Francisco 49ers and Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, with Oak View Group, Ticketmaster and Live Nation as additional partners. 

Video Production Platform Wildmoka Integrates With LiveLike to Enhance Sports Broadcast Experiences

By Andrew Cohen

Wildmoka and LiveLike have partnered to integrate their services for broadcasters across sports, news and entertainment. Sports broadcasters use Wildmoka’s video editing platform to produce live video highlights and replays, while LiveLike creates interactive broadcast experiences such as on-screen quizzes, polls, prediction meters and leaderboards. 

LiveLike has collaborated with the Golden State Warriors to launch a Game Mode inside the team’s mobile app and also created virtual watch parties for La Liga North America. Wildmoka’s video production platform has been used by beIN Sports, Tennis Channel, the Big 12 and Big East conferences and Major League Soccer. 

“Plugging [Wildmoka’s] Digital Media Factory with our interactive capabilities is a further step to automating workflows for our partners who can use LiveLike as their one-stop shop for retention strategies,” LiveLike CCO Samuel Westberg said in a statement. 

Sports Loft Invests in Satisfi Labs, Fevo and Slate

By Andrew Cohen

London-based sports technology investor Sports Loft has announced new investments in AI chatbot provider Satisfi Labs, soccer commerce platform Fevo and content management app Slate. Sports Loft was founded in 2019 by Charlie Greenwood, the former head of strategic planning for Nike’s U.K. operations. 

The investments came as part of Satisfi Labs’ Series A round, Fevo’s Series C round and Slate’s seed funding round. Google and Major League Baseball previously invested in Satisfi Labs, whose chatbots are used across MLB, NFL, NBA, NASCAR and NHL teams to share information with fans on gamedays.  

Fevo’s Series C round was valued at $36.5 million and included funding from Drive by DraftKings and HBSE Ventures, among other investors. Slate’s app to streamline social media content creation is used by teams such as the Golden State Warriors, Tottenham Hotspur, Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings.  

Sports Loft is focused on investing in startups at the intersection of sports and media. Sports Loft’s portfolio also includes soccer training app Balln, content publishing system Greenfly and interactive media production startup Tagboard. 

Porsche, Sharp Alpha Advisors Invest in Motorsports Data Startup Griiip

By Andrew Cohen

Motorsports data company Griiip has closed a seed funding round led by Sharp Alpha Advisors and Porsche Ventures. Griiip’s sensor-based hardware called RedBox collects real-time data from race cars to support fan engagement offerings such as broadcast graphics and fantasy and betting applications. 

Griiip, based in Israel, aims to work with the world’s top racing leagues, having already partnered with Europe’s DTM series. The company can track real-time data on a driver’s stress levels, a vehicle’s battery or engine status predicted lap times or how the length of a pitstop impacts a driver’s chance of winning. 

“Motorsport fans are missing out on the benefits tech could bring them, ironically in the most high-tech sport of them all, and that is where motorsport can learn from many other sports which have embraced tech to improve the fan experience,” Griiip founder Tamir Plachinsky wrote in an op-ed for SBJ 

Porsche Ventures is the venture capital arm of Porsche, which has an electric car in Formula E and has been rumored to be considering a return to Formula 1. Sharp Alpha Advisors launched a $10 million fund in October to invest in sports betting related startups. 

New York’s Record-Setting Mobile Betting Debut Also Sees a Surge in Problem Gambling Calls

By Andrew Cohen

New Yorkers dialed the state’s problem gambling hotline 91 times more in January compared to the same month last year. The 46% uptick in calls came during the first month of legal online sports betting in N.Y., which had a single-month U.S. record of $1.6 billion in sports bets placed on mobile phones. 

“With the start of Mobile Sports Betting and the proliferation of gambling ads and giveaways, we anticipate the numbers of individuals and families needing help will continue to increase,” New York Council on Problem Gambling executive director Jim Maney told PlayNY.

New Yorkers made 198 problem gambling calls to the NY HOPEline in Jan. 2021 compared to 289 last month, according to data shared to PlayNY from a state government spokesperson. The state generated $57.6 million in taxes from online sports betting last month and $113 million in revenue for the sportsbooks. FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars, BetMGM, PointsBet, WynnBET and Bet Rivers are the seven sportsbooks currently operating mobile apps in N.Y.

New York sports channel MSG Networks this week launched “Bet-A-Palooza presented by DraftKings,” a slate of new betting programming that includes a betting-themed game broadcast airing on the MSG+ and MSG GO streaming platform. That simulcast debuted with last night’s New York Knicks game against the Golden State Warriors and will return for Saturday’s Knicks game, as well.

“We must address this issue in real time and not 1 year or 2 years down the road. The clock is ticking because now that Mobile Sports Betting has started, there are serious discussions regarding the addition of 3 downstate casino licenses and right after that will come iGaming, eSports, betting kiosks at racetracks and arenas like Madison Square Garden,” Maney wrote in a letter, in which he asked New York State to give $15 million toward problem gambling support.

The American Gaming Association estimates that 31 million Americans will wager a total of $7.6 billion on Super Bowl LVI. While Sunday’s Bengals-Rams matchup will feature an all-out blitz of ads from legal sports betting apps, problem gambling departments are concerned about betting-like free games being marketed towards kids. For example, the NFL and Nickelodeon’s slime-draped website collaboration is asking kids to pick the winner of Sunday’s big game. The site gives points for correct picks alongside cartoon visuals and NFL trivia. 

“There’s a massive exposure effect. There’s a habituation and grooming effect,” Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, told Axios

Sacramento Kings Accepting Startup Pitches for Seventh-Annual Capitalize Contest, Will Host Tech Night Against Warriors

By Andrew Cohen

The Sacramento Kings have begun accepting applications for its seventh-annual Capitalize startup competition. Partners working with the NBA team to host the contest include the Sacramento Urban Technology Lab, business communications company Dialpad and marketing consultant group 3STEPS4WARD. 

 Startups have until Feb. 25 to apply for Capitalize, which will award $10,000 to a winner on Tech Night, April 3, at the Golden 1 Center when the Kings host the Golden State Warriors. A $3,000 prize will be awarded to the second-place startup and $1,500 for third place. Startups based within 75 miles of Sacramento are eligible for the contest.  

 A panel of Kings’ president of business operations John Rinehart, Kings’ VP of experiences and social responsibility Maritza Davis, Dialpad CEO Craig Walker, 3STEPS4WARD Doug Younger III and Berkeley Strategy Advisors managing partner Kenny Sadler will judge eight semifinalists at a pitch day on March 21.

 A selected four finalists will advance to upload pitch videos to the Kings’ website. Fans can vote on Twitter until halftime of the Kings-Warriors game to select the winning startup, which will be decided by tallying votes from fans and judges.  

 Credder, an online community for writing reviews of news articles, won last year’s Capitalize competition. Past startups to participate in the program include parking management app Japa and nutritional meal plan service Trifecta.  

UFC Enters Brazilian Sports Betting Market With

By Max Rettig

The UFC has expanded its partnership with crypto gaming and sports betting company Already UFC’s official betting partner in Asia and Latin America, will now also become UFC’s first betting partner in Brazil. branding will appear during certain pay-per-view and Fight Night events throughout the year and will become the presenting partner of UFC events that take place in Brazil. In addition, will collaborate with UFC on exclusive digital and social content, as well as exclusive promotions for fans. 

The two companies will create branded social content ahead of UFC 271 on Saturday at Houston’s Toyota Center. The event will see brand ambassador and UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya defend his title against Robert Whittaker.