Bangalore-Based Co To Step Up Focus On Streaming Sports Events On Cellphones
AS TIGER Woods teed off at the Augusta Masters last month, viewerships of the event — across internet and mobile — surpassed all others in the US and Europe. But little did the world know that the mobile broadcast was being delivered right out of Hosur Road in Bangalore by a 250-people firm called July Systems.
And, while newspapers and TV channels were busy raking money from the off and on field coverage of IPL 3, last month, July Systems was busy creating a solution that would stream IPL matches on mobile screens using the existing 2G bandwidth.
The firm, pioneers in mobile media, is focusing big on mobile streaming of sports with the number of GPRS handsets growing, mobile price-points dropping and 3G services getting launched. The company’s proprietary technology, MIX (mobile internet experience), is the first next-generation mobile publishing platform that offers features like cross-platform publishing and distribution. This patented software streamed IPL matches clip-by-clip, with in-house techies-cum-sports enthusiasts even adding live ball-by-ball commentary.
July Systems was started by seven techies, led by Rajesh Reddy, in 2001, post the dotcom bust. It didn’t make much money till about 2006, but turned cash-flow positive in March and secured a fresh $7-million Series C investment. The investment was led by Intel Capital with existing investors Sequoia Capital and Footprint Ventures taking part.
The growth in mobile internet consumption and rise in its customer base — locally as well as globally — has already helped the firm clock a 300% year-on-year growth in revenues in March, the last time this privately-held firm declared its run rate. The technology hotspot counts media clients like PGA Tour, Indycar, ESPN, F1Live, and claims to be one of the largest players in mobile broadcast of sports.
But there isn’t a doubt that cricket is dialling the right numbers for these firms — for the first two weeks of IPL 3, a million people clicked on the link,m.iplt20.com, resulting in 3.7 million video views and roughly 15,000 hours of video. Not just that. Anupam Srivasatava of Intel Capital, which has also invested in buzzintown.com, said: “Mobile internet usage in India will become very big with 20% of 500 million users possessing GPRS handsets. With such handset prices falling and the advent of 3G, it will gain a new growth curve in next two years.”
What’s helping the firm is a band of sports enthusiasts in its top team: be it president Prem Bhatia, who played county cricket or veep of product management, Richit Jhunjhunwala and chief architect, Vikas Murthy. Mr Srivasatva of Intel Capital feels that sports on mobile is definitely going to be a new ball game.
So does the July Systems CEO Rajesh Reddy, as he said: “Over 50% of our revenues comes from sports vertical and rest from news on the mobile. We are also active in creating sessionbased advertising for advertisers.” The firm is, however, facing some competition from emerging companies like Apalya Technolgies. Apalya is currently streaming the ICC T20 World Cup Matches live on mobile screens.