Telco startup OVO Mobile raises $5 million from Southern Cross Austereo to build out digital sports broadcasting offering

- January 17, 2018 2 MIN READ
OVO Mobile

Media group Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), whose properties include the Hit and Triple M radio networks and the Southern Cross television stations across regional Australia, has invested $5 million in telco startup OVO Mobile.

The strategic investment will see the media giant work with the startup to further develop and build out its digital broadcasting platform, OVOPlay.

The platform has a focus on sports content, with OVO having over the last few years signed on as the digital broadcasting partner for a number of sports with large grassroots followings, including Gymnastics Australia, Water Polo Australia, and World SuperBikes.

Video and audio content of major events in these sports is run on OVOPlay, data-free for OVO Mobile customers.

Brian Gallagher, chief sales officer at SCA, said the company was attracted to OVO’s business model of offering “compelling mobile telecommunications offerings” built around its digital entertainment platform.

“Sport is the biggest immediate synergy between OVO and SCA. Sport is integral to our Triple M network and increasingly popular on our PodcastOne network with podcasts like Howie Games. We think there are great untapped opportunities for us to work with OVO to bring great content to the target audiences our clients are seeking to reach,” he said.

Matt Jones, CEO of OVO, agreed that while OVO’s mobile offering is “strong”, it is its broadcasting focus that sets the company apart; with this in mind, the investment from SCA will see OVO work to sign up more sports and attract larger audiences.

“[The broadcasting] gives us our higher purpose, which is attracting big audiences for sports that otherwise struggle to gain traction,” he said.

“We are helping sports become more sustainable by bringing new audiences to watch and participants to play, and frequently, giving people the chance to see their friends and relatives compete and perform for the first time.”

As part of the investment, OVO customers will also be able to stream SCA’s Triple M and Hit Network radio stations data-free.

Having launched its first mobile products in mid-2016 on the Optus mobile network, OVO stated it has seen growth of 600 percent since January 2017; it signed bricks and mortar deals with 7-Eleven and Australia Post late last year, seeing its SIM cards stocked in outlets across the country.

Rights to sporting events, however, are becoming the big ticket items for telcos, social networks, and digital media players both locally and abroad as more consumers turn to “cord cutting”, cancelling subscriptions for pay TV services such as ESPN or Fox Sports and paying for streaming subscriptions to individual sports.

Optus splurged around $150 million on the rights for the English Premier League in 2015, with the three year broadcasting deal commencing in 2016.

With sign ups to Optus Sport to watch the games available only to Optus customers, News Corp then reported last February that the telco had added 201,000 new post-paid handset customers between July and December 2016, compared to the 79,000 who went with Telstra, giving Optus is best result in six years.

In the US, Amazon Prime last year paid Us$50 million for the streaming rights for a package of NFL games, while telco Verizon signed a five year deal worth $500 million a year with the NFL to stream games across its mobile and digital platforms.

OVO also announced it has renewed its partnership with Optus for another five years.

Image: Matt Jones. Source: Supplied.