PlayON It Again: 2080 Media Acquires PlayON Sports
By Carolyn Braff
Earlier this fall, Turner Sports folded its PlayON Sports division, the enterprise responsible for ACC Select’s highly successful streaming package. This week, PlayON Sports came back to life, revived by a former Turner executive who is now CEO of Atlanta-based 2080 Media Inc. Effective immediately, 2080 Media has acquired the assets of PlayON Sports from Turner, bringing a major player back into the streaming marketplace.
“I knew the technology that Turner had developed and perfected and invested in over the last four years,” explains 2080 Media CEO David Rudolph, who spent 13 years at Turner, during which he oversaw the group that developed PlayON Sports.
“I’ve been actively involved with PlayON since its inception and had an insider’s viewpoint of how powerful the technology was,” Rudolph says. “As an outsider after I left Turner, I had the ability to compare it with some of the other solutions on the market and saw that there still were not a whole lot of comparable solutions in that space. When I saw there was an opportunity to acquire the technology, that’s when I moved on it pretty quickly.”
The largest client of the original PlayON Sports, a digital-media company offering quality, low-cost production and distribution of sporting events via the Internet, was ACC Select, the streaming service run for the Atlantic Coast Conference in conjunction with Raycom Sports. Other streaming partners included the Atlantic Sun Conference, United Soccer League, and Raycom Media.
“In terms of revenue and total audience, the ACC Select package was the biggest,” Rudolph says. CBS College Sports Network now operates the ACC Select service, after acquiring it in September when PlayON folded. “I think there will be some interesting conversations that happen in the coming months with the ACC and other collegiate partners.”
Rather than throw all of his energies into wooing back former partners right out of the gate, Rudolph plans to turn his attention toward the high school market.
“I think there’s tremendous opportunity in the high school space,” Rudolph explains. “It’s probably the last sports-media riddle left to figure out. I think we’ve got a component to the solution that, if we apply it appropriately, we can be a part of figuring out how that puzzle’s going to come together.”
As CEO of 2080 Media, Rudolph is responsible for day-to-day operations of PlayON Sports, which will continue operating under its current name. Series A Financing for the acquisition was led by Imlay Investments, an Atlanta-based venture/angel capital firm, and included Buckhead Investment Partners and Noro-Moseley Partners. Turner has also become a shareholder in 2080 Media.