A NEW video platform for fans is set for rapid expansion as it bids to transform the sports broadcasting landscape, and is aiming to take on 500 staff in its first five years.
Andy Meikle, founder and chief executive of Recast, based in the Scottish capital has a micropayment solution that connects rights holders directly to fans, allowing an exchange of value through in-app credits called Casts.
The latest venture from entrepreneur Mr Meikle follows Sportlobster, which he took to a $60 million valuation, and which had links with stars across sporting spheres including Cristiano Ronaldo as its ambassador.
Mr Meikle, who is from Edinburgh but was raised in Dubai, had sporting ambitions himself and set off on a soccer scholarship journey in the US, although he didn’t manage to break through to the professional game despite trials with clubs including his favourite, Hibernian.
He set up sports social media platform Sportlobster in 2012 so fans like him could get personalised access to statistics, news and scores, and could share predictions, before growing it to millions of users.
“What I saw through that journey was that the industry was experiencing a change in consumption patterns and payment patterns, which is why my personal journey evolved from Sportlobster into creating Recast, to address that change, that shift, and create a new system that is driving incremental value for everybody,” he said.
Edinburgh’s Recast sports fans platform attracts global interest
“The thing that excites me most is that everybody wins, so the brands benefit in the way our ecosystem works, the fans are getting either free or subsidised access to watch whatever sport they want in the format they want.
“If they only want to watch clips, then fine, if they want to watch live, fine, and the rights holders are benefitting because they can go direct to consumer.
“In short what we are doing though is creating a platform where fans can get immediate, personalised, and affordable access to watch the sport that they want and on the flip side the rights holders are able to go direct to consumer, and monitor micropayments, and the way we facilitate that is through our own in-app currency.
“So, much like a game with coins or like an airline with air miles you can earn these credits, or you can buy them, and then you can spend them on the content you want to watch.”
Despite still being in beta the move has seen rights holders – particularly across sports such as cycling, parkour and obstacle course racing – gravitate to Recast to enable them to monetise the future fan, it is claimed.
He hailed the team that includes co-founder JC Oliver, who was global head of innovation at Microsoft and global chief creative officer at AOL, and chief technology officer Chris Stafford, who co-founded FanDuel.
Mr Meikle said: “It helps that all of us in different ways have been on similar journeys getting start-ups going and fortunately have relationships across the world of sport that allow us to pick up the phone and have conversations about what we are doing and get an immediate response and that is what has led to getting the momentum we are getting.”
Financial fillip for Sportlobster
He said: “We are dealing with representatives such as agencies and also with broadcasters and also directly with rights owners, so we are very much a complementary solution, enabling of the ecosystem to generate incremental value from what they currently do generate.
“As a business, considering we operate as a marketplace, our cost base is minimal, compared to any other sports broadcasting platforms, which means we don’t require many users to be profitable or break even.
“The way in which we have modelled this ensures that we can become profitable very early on with a small user set.”
Mr Meikle during his football scholarship at West Virginia Wesleyan College.
On future figures, he said: “We still are working towards those (projections) with any investors we are working with, but for us, we will be surpassing those projections in my opinion based on the traction we are getting with tier one rights holders and with sports broadcasters at present.
“Based on that, in terms of growth internally, there are currently ten full time employees although in and around the business there are about 20 people involved either freelance or part-time, but we project to grow to 40 people within 12 months and even beyond that, five years from now we project to be over 500 staff based on what the requirements would be as we are operating as a global sports broadcasting platform.”
He added: “The way or ecosystem works we often call it a sharing economy, because if people share others videos then they can generate incremental value and earnings as well.
“I’m excited about this because of the timing and because of the potential but particularly because of the sharing model in which everybody wins.
“The same way that Uber facilitates a transaction between a driver and Airbnb between a host and guest and Deliveroo between a restaurant and someone wanting to get their dinner, we are facilitating a transaction between a rights holder and a fan at a very affordable level.”