Fox to Announce Deal With Smartphone Video App

SEPT. 3, 2014

When Paul Levy co-founded Burst in 2010, he envisioned a mobile application that would allow parents to record and share short videos of their children playing sports. Now, sports media companies are using Burst’s technology at much bigger events.

On Thursday, Fox Sports Regional Networks will announce that it has signed a multiyear licensing agreement with Burst, the latest well-known company to do so. Fox Sports, a unit of 21st Century Fox, will use Burst to distribute mobile video on its digital platforms and on social media with the goal of attracting online viewers to its televised programs.

“We are always looking for ways to engage with fans beyond the telecast,” said David Mortlock, the vice president for Fox Sports Regional Networks. “We care a lot about helping facilitate fandom, and fans like consuming content about their teams.”

Television networks still depend on camera crews and sophisticated equipment, but they are increasingly seeking low-cost ways to record behind-the-scenes videos that can supplement their traditional broadcasts. With applications like Burst, reporters — and everyday viewers — can create videos with only their smartphones and an Internet connection.

Photo Credit: Andrew Sullivan for The New York Times

Paul Levy is a founder of Burst, an app created to help parents make and share videos and now used by media companies.

Initially, Fox Sports will rely on its reporters to create videos using Burst’s technology. In August, for example, reporters captured video when the New York Yankees retired Joe Torre’s number at a ceremony at Yankee Stadium. Fox Sports also intends to incorporate user-generated digital material through Burst by the end of this year, Mr. Mortlock said.

Since Burst shifted its focus away from individual consumers in 2012, it has signed deals with a number of well-known media companies, including the New England Sports Network, which carries the Boston Red Sox and other regional teams. And Burst’s popularity is increasing. In the last year, videos have been viewed online with Burst’s video player 24.7 million times; 70 percent of those views came in the last three months, according to Burst.

Part of what makes Burst attractive to media companies is what Mr. Levy called its “lightweight content-management system.” Burst, which has $5.5 million in financing, has developed a way for anyone to upload video to a so-called bubble — essentially a collaborative platform for creating, viewing, editing and publishing digital content in real time.

“These media companies can’t get enough video on their websites,” Mr. Levy said. “They have a lot of advertiser demand, but they’re not producing enough content to support it.”

Advertisers are drawn to short videos, providing another reason for companies to invest in digital content through technology like Burst’s. Advertising revenue from digital video was $2.8 billion last year, compared with $2.3 billion in 2012, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Matt Timothy, the president of Vindico, an ad management platform company, said digital video aimed at an existing audience, as Fox Sports intends to create with Burst, is particularly appealing to marketers.

“The challenge in the marketplace as it is today is there’s not enough quality inventory,” he said. “My advertisers are always looking for those quality environments to place their ads.”