The New York Times: Start-Up Gets Financing for Real-Time Sports Wagers via App

A start-up that let users bet on real-time sports and that it is free to use has secured a new round of financing — and gained some high-level backers.

WinView, which lets users compete in games that run at the same time as sports games, said on Tuesday that it had raised $3.4 million. The new investments bring WinView’s fund-raising efforts to date to $6.5 million.

The start-up also said that it had named the two investors who led the round, Tom Rogers and Hank Ratner, as its co-chairmen. The two bring experience in the media industry to the company: Mr. Rogers is the chairman of TiVo and the former head of NBC’s cable division; Mr. Ratner is the vice chairman of Cablevision and the former chief of the Madison Square Garden Company.

What drew both men to the eight-year-old WinView, they said in an interview, was the potential of the company to serve as a new platform for advertising tied to live sports, drawing on the sort of “second-screen” phenomenon that is part of Twitter’s appeal.

The basic idea of WinView is relatively simple: Users challenge each other on various aspects of a live game using the company’s smartphone app, ranging from a father taking on his daughter during a quarter of an N.F.L. game to a group of friends setting up a league tournament.

It is a system that the two men said has already taken hold in Europe, where such synchronized competitions have overtaken daily fantasy sports in popularity.

Underpinning the company are what Mr. Rogers and Mr. Ratner said were 26 key patents that cover running an online competition at the same time as a game.

Yet the business of running games tied to live sports raises the specter of daily fantasy sports businesses like DraftKings and FanDuel, which have faced sharp questioning over whether they constitute online gambling.

Mr. Rogers and Mr. Ratner were quick to dismiss any comparisons, noting that WinView for now was free to play and would — at least initially — draw its revenue from advertising. (They conceded that in Europe, WinView operates largely as a pay-to-play system.)

And they added that the various competitions that could run on WinView require far less of the sometimes arcane details and knowledge that populate daily fantasy sites.

“This is free to play,” Mr. Ratner said. “This is a far broader audience than a fantasy sports audience. This is for anyone who wants to play.”

As part of the announcement, WinView said that it would officially open for business in the United States this fall, coinciding with the start of the professional football season.

Both men said that they viewed the service as a way to tap into audiences that have grown to shun commercials — something that Mr. Rogers said he has long observed during his tenure at TiVo.

“Advertisers are having a hard time reaching millennials,” Mr. Rogers said. “This has created what we think is a huge advertising opportunity.”

WinView will be led by Tom Rogers, left, and Hank Ratner as co-chairmen.


Credit: Gus Ruelas/Reuters; Richard Drew, via Associated Press

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