Your Game Now
Friday, February 18, 2011 7:00 AM
"We can pay for that content once, but we can continue to distribute it to as many outlets as possible. Suddenly that video clip means so much more as we have more distribution outlets and more opportunities." – Andrew Erickson, Founder, Your Game Now LLC
Some keys to the business model
Camera quality: Erickson declined to say how much it costs to produce a game, but did say, “We’ve got it down to a cost-effective price for a number of outlets.” The happy medium is getting a low-cost way of recording games that is still higher quality than the “dad-cam.”
Being there, always: What really differentiates the company from the local news, Erickson said, is that Your Game Now is dedicated to being there for every regular-season game and capturing the whole game. “If we’re dedicated to the fans, the fans will be dedicated to us,” he said.
Having a plan: Being successful, like most business strategies, involves having a plan and having the right people to execute it, Erickson said. “Once we get into a sports season, we’re not creating anything new. We’re executing a plan,” he said. “Really, those part-time and seasonal (videographers) are going to make this happen.”
Distribution: Much like a film in Hollywood, it would be foolish to bank on one distribution method to sustain the business, Erickson said. “You have to have multiple sources of revenue. Otherwise it’s never going to work,” he said.
Andrew Erickson thinks he’s found a formula to revolutionize high school sports.
Erickson, the founder of video production company Your Game Now LLC in Clive, has plans to record and distribute every football and boys’ and girls’ basketball game next year for the 47 Class 4A schools in the state.
It might sound like an ambitious task, but Erickson, who’s also an Iowa Motion Picture Association board member, thinks his company has the business model to do it. How? Good question.
“I don’t want to go too much into work flow,” he said. “The experience and work flow is really our secret sauce. That’s what I’ve been testing for the last six years.”
He doesn’t want to give away any secrets, but Erickson has been willing to provide just enough of a glimpse into why he believes he can get the start-up money to expand his business from covering the 18 high schools in the Central Iowa Metropolitan League (CIML) for two years to covering every 4A school in the state next year. The company, which also works with the Iowa Energy, Iowa Barnstormers and even records video of the “Iowa Sports Connection Radio Show” for an online feed, received a $75,000 grant from the Iowa Demonstration Fund in November to expand its high school coverage.
“For us, this is demonstrating that the technology of media distribution can be feasible within Iowa,” Erickson said. “And being able to say, ‘Hey, there’s other people that believe in this, and they see it happening,’ I think that has more power than money.”
The idea was hatched while Erickson, a Humboldt native, sat in class at Full Sail University, a school specializing in entertainment-related disciplines just north of Orlando, Fla. Erickson wanted to be able to watch his old high school’s football team from Florida, but had no way to do so. But he knew with evolving technology it would be possible in the near future.
The idea was honed while he worked for the NBC show “America’s Got Talent” in Los Angeles, and put into practice when he decided to move back to Iowa four years ago, first by focusing just on Humboldt sports for a test run, then expanding to the CIML.
The concept is to record every game, and distribute it on multiple platforms: television, the Internet and mobile phones.
The key, Erickson said, is to have the whole game on file. At that point, Your Game Now can distribute it however it chooses on the multiple platforms. The company sells full-game DVDs or subscriptions to watch the games on its website, and also edits the video into highlight clips to be posted online with advertising.
Erickson likened it to the film industry. Major motion pictures don’t just distribute their movies to theaters, but also via DVDs and television.
“We pay for that content once, but we can continue to distribute it to as many outlets as possible,” Erickson said. “Suddenly that video clip means so much more as we have more distribution outlets and more opportunities. ... If you are going to record the video for one reason, it’s not worth it. If you are going to distribute it to five different places, five different audiences, five different mediums – then it’s worth it.”
With the demonstration grant in hand, Erickson now wants to more than double his company’s business. The grant has allowed him to take a year off of covering high school games to gear up for expanded coverage.
Erickson plans on hiring 50 part-time and seasonal videographers and a full-time staff of six. Also part of the revamping process is to rebuild the company’s website. Right now, Your Game Now has 1,200 full games in its inventory just from covering the CIML.
“We’re going to have thousands and thousands of games in our archive, and we’re going to have a backlog too, so you’re going to be able to go back in history and watch games,” Erickson said. “So we have to have a very pinpoint strategy and architecture for our website to be able to handle all this.”
If this model works, the sky is the limit. The next step could be expanding to coverage of small colleges and even professional leagues, Erickson said. After spending two years planning the company and six years getting it to this point, though, any decision in the future will be calculated just as carefully.
“It can go in 10 different directions, it really can,” Erickson said. “But when we make a decision, we are dedicated. We go out and cover a full season, full game, and make that accessible. It’s make or break for us if we start to overextend our coverage beyond demand. And I think that’s part of the reason nobody else has done this.”