Graham Holdings, Discovery Communications, Ted and Zach Leonsis of Monumental Sports & Entertainment and LionTree Partners join round to help fill a sports culture void by converting fans from spectators into play-along-live participants
(www.winviewgames.com), the nation’s #1 second-screen live TV sports prediction platform, announced a $12 million Series B funding round with participation from a first-class investor group, including Graham Holdings Company, Discovery Communications, Ted Leonsis’ Monumental Sports & Entertainment and LionTree Partners. The funding will help WinView further develop and market its skill-based mobile app across a range of professional sports, including baseball, basketball and football (MLB, NBA and NFL), by converting fans and TV viewers from spectators into play-along-live participants.
The WinView Games app brings together the worlds of live TV sports, mobile apps, games of skill and interactive advertising so that sports fans and fantasy players can enjoy sports on TV in a new way by having more fun and interacting with their favorite teams, and with each other. Available on iOS and Android, WinView Games allows users to play along in real time with live televised sports and compete to accurately predict the plays on the field in order to win cash prizes. WinView Games is an ad-supported app that is 100% free to play. The games covered by WinView are produced in a live studio by a team of producers based on what is happening in real time.
Investors in the Series B round include:
- Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC): A diversified holding company whose principal operations include Graham Media Group, which owns seven television broadcast stations in major markets and Kaplan, a global provider of educational services. The Company also owns Slate, an on-line magazine; Panoply, a premium podcast network; SocialCode, a leading social marketing solutions company; Graham Healthcare Group, and several manufacturing businesses.
- Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA): A leading global media and entertainment company reaching 3 billion cumulative viewers with a portfolio of premium nonfiction, lifestyle, sports and kids content brands. WinView looks forward to pursuing opportunities to deepen its relationship with Discovery and its content brands, including Eurosport the leading provider of locally relevant, premium sports across Europe.
- Ted Leonsis, Founder of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, and Zach Leonsis: Own and operate five professional sports teams (Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards, Washington Mystics, Washington Valor and Baltimore Brigade) and the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. Ted Leonsis also serves on the board of governors for the NBA and NHL, and he was previously president of AOL (1993 to 2006).
- LionTree Partners: The merchant banking arm of LionTree LLC, a differentiated global investment and merchant banking firm founded in 2012, with a focus on media, technology and telecommunications.
The funding round was driven by cable television and next-gen TV pioneer Tom Rogers, who is Executive Chairman of WinView, Inc. Previously Mr. Rogers was Chairman, President and CEO of TiVo, President of NBC Cable and Executive Vice President of NBC and Chairman and CEO of PRIMEDIA, Inc.
“This first-class group of investors is a major validation of our live TV sports prediction platform and its upside potential to engage TV viewers in a new way to enjoy televised sports,” said Tom Rogers, Executive Chairman of WinView, Inc. “The WinView Games app fills a sports culture void by converting fans and TV viewers from spectators into play-along-live participants. Following last fall’s successful start, these investments will enable us to take a significant step forward toward reaching our mobile, social and gaming business goals while capitalizing on fan excitement across virtually all professional sports including basketball, baseball and football. We also will strive to be part of the in-stadium experience, enabling fans to predict plays from their seats.”
“The WinView Games app is changing the way fans watch live TV sports,” said David Lockton, founder and CEO of WinView, Inc. “Our two-screen technology now backed by 40 patents enables sports fans to get closer to the action and create social connections while testing their knowledge of the sport through in-game predictions. With a skill-based multi-sport platform that offers immediate gratification, we are fueling competition among fans while also driving greater tune-in to live televised sports.”
Added Lockton, “Predicting what will happen next is core to the sports viewing experience, as fans are constantly thinking ahead during the game and trying to anticipate the action on the field. As the changing landscape of sports and technology continues to evolve with millennials defining the dual-screen age, the 85% of sports viewers who watch sports with their mobile device in hand, can now get into a free game and win money while testing their knowledge.”
Timothy O’Shaughnessy, President and CEO of Graham Holdings Company, said: “WinView’s platform is a fun, exciting and dynamic new way for sports fans to engage during the most popular live programming on TV today. WinView is well positioned to establish its product as the new social interactive paradigm where fans and friends are competing to predict what’s going to happen from the first to the very play of the game.”
David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery Communications, said: “WinView’s products complement Discovery’s goal to reach and engage our superfans around the world and across all screens. The company has strong expertise in mobile and sports; a business and engagement model poised to help drive consumption of live content; and a top-notch leadership team. We are pleased to participate in this round of funding to support the growth and development of their platform.”
Ted Leonsis, founder and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, said: “As a team owner, any avenue that creates a greater relationship between the fan and their favorite team and players, as well as greater fan excitement and intimacy, is what local sports franchises are all about. It’s my belief that WinView locks fans more deeply into the game experience and rounds out their desire to interact with other fans and prove their knowledge, predictive power and understanding of the sport.”
Zach Leonsis, Vice President and General Manager of Monumental Sports Network, said: “WinView really capitalizes on what so many fans are already doing: scrolling around on their mobile devices while they watch games on the big screen. It makes fans a part of the action and it drives huge user engagement. That’s a big piece of what’s so powerful about real-time sports gaming – it gives fans the chance to become players, and gives us all a shared experience that builds on the intense passion of being a sports fan.”
Aryeh B. Bourkoff, founder and CEO of LionTree LLC, said: “In our role as investor and advisor, we recognize that delivering content, particularly to younger audiences, in new, interactive and exciting ways is critical to success. WinView’s platform provides users with a unique and innovative experience that deepens their engagement with content, and one another, in real time. Given the success of play-along mobile sports and gaming in Europe, we are confident that WinView has a significant opportunity to advance this trend in the U.S. and we are excited to be a part of driving this business forward.”
Launched in 2014, WinView Games previously raised $8 million and represents the next evolution of two-screen TV entertainment in the U.S, as in-game sports predictions already has caught on and become more popular than daily fantasy sports in Europe.