Monday Jun 29, 2015 by Josh Boyle – Director of Community & Marketing, VentureFizz

Many people say horseracing is a thing of the past. A sport no longer enjoyed by the masses and one that doesn’t have a long lifespan ahead.

Those of us who love to take in a day at the track, a weekend in Saratoga or a trip to Churchill Downs won’t deny that it’s a niche interest, but also wish others would experience the buzz and energy around a day at the races.

American Pharoah’s historic achievement winning the Triple Crown this year has put a spotlight on the sport, but like anything else it needs to be properly leveraged. Specific measures need to be taken in order to fully capitalize on the attention and opportunity at hand. One such measure has been taken and it involves a Boston startup.

The Breeders’ Cup, the unofficial end and culmination of the thoroughbred-racing season, has turned to Boston-based startup, Burst, to increase fan engagement and build off the excitement the 2015 Triple Crown run provided.

SI coverBurst, founded by Bryant McBride, Paul Levy and Tracy DeForge in 2011, is a mobile video platform that enables users (fans, employees and/or reporters) to capture authentic video, automatically upload it to the cloud, and then directly integrate the content into broadcast TV, social web or in-venue screens in near real-time. Last summer Burst announced their first major television partnership with NESN, who brought User Generated Content (UGC) onto live Red Sox and Bruins broadcasts.

Last week, Levy told me since the NESN deal Burst has several similar partnerships with the likes of Fox Sports, VH1 and several news stations pulling UGC for various weather coverage.

I asked Levy how this all came about with the Breeder’s Cup.

“I was introduced to a few folks just before the Kentucky Derby. As the excitement grew throughout the Triple Crown run we talked about partnering. Once American Pharoah capped it off, NBC and The Breeders’ Cup knew they had to find a way to leverage the opportunity and bring racing to the forefront. It came together very quickly from there.”

The partnership officially kicked off on June 13th at Churchill Downs in Kentucky where the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series (a series of qualifying races leading up to the championship in October) was taking place.

Through the partnership, fans at the racetrack and around the world were able to upload and share their videos and personal experiences on NBC Sports during the live broadcasts, helping to expand coverage beyond the racetrack and more fully capture the fan experience. This type of footage provides a more realistic fan experience than what is typically seen on television.

“We are excited to help offer our viewers a part of the race-day experience as captured by fans in attendance,” said Rob Hyland, coordinating producer of NBC Sports Group’s horseracing coverage in a statement. “As we saw when history was made at the Belmont Stakes, fans and viewers enjoy sharing their big-event memories via social media. We will continue that experience-sharing with Burst throughout the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series this summer and fall.”

Peter Rotondo, VP of media and entertainment at the Breeders’ Cup added, “The average horserace is two minutes long, yet there is so much more to the overall race-day experience.”

Burst, Breeders’ Cup and NBC are providing an opportunity to those who have never been at the rail for a race to better understand and feel the energy and excitement around horseracing and the entire race-day experience altogether.

In addition to this being Burst’s first activation for a horseracing event, the partnership with the Breeders’ Cup is the first time Burst fan-generated videos will be shared nationally through NBC Sports. Fans both home and at the track are able to shoot and upload videos of their experiences and share them directly with NBC Sports via a link, without requiring the fan to download an app to participate.

Furthermore, Burst provides a valuable content opportunity beyond fans, in a more controlled sense, allowing employees and insiders (in this case trainers, jockeys and other track personnel) to share special, behind-the-scenes moments.

Following the Churchill Downs activation, there will be six additional Challenge Series races that will be powered by Burst, as well as the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, to be held Oct. 30 and 31 at Keeneland.

Beyond this partnership Levy tells me there’s a lot on tap for Burst. “Over the next six to nine months we’ll be moving into other areas. While continuing to create partnerships with other major networks, we’ll also be looking at colleges and live events,” he told me.

While there’s an opportunity for many industries and verticals to utilize Burst and more specifically, user generated content, the need for a better in-venue experience for sports events, overall, is dire. Even the untouchable NFL, struggling with attendance concerns, is seeking in-stadium fan experience solutions. If Burst can continue to create solutions to a problem facing the multi-billion dollar sports industry, they’ll not only make a lot of wealthy franchise owners happy (and richer), but will also become a leader in the growing sports technology space in Boston and beyond.

See full article here: