Spotlight: Israeli technology expands sports journalism

Thousands of fans in 13 countries use sports media platforms from Israel to produce more than 15,000 pieces of content in 10 languages every month.

ISRAELI SPORTS media platform 12up (a recent screenshot of homepage pictured) was created for ‘citizen journalists’ covering US sports, while its sister site ‘90min’ currently focuses on global soccer. (photo credit: Courtesy)
ISRAELI SPORTS media platform 12up (a recent screenshot of homepage pictured) was created for ‘citizen journalists’ covering US sports, while its sister site ‘90min’ currently focuses on global soccer.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Thousands of amateur sports writers across 13 countries are using the 90min and 12up platforms from Israeli sports media and technology company Minute Media to produce, publish and share more than 15,000 pieces of curated interactive content in 10 languages every month.
Call it the BuzzFeed of the sports world.
The precursor of Minute Media, FTBpro, was founded by Asaf Peled in 2011 in Tel Aviv. The company has raised a total of $45 million in venture- capital funding.
“We saw a space in the global sports market for user-generated content and foresaw the way journalism was going toward the likes of Huff- Post and BuzzFeed,” said Matan Har, Minute Media VP of growth and content.
“We didn’t see anyone in the sports space doing this. And since we eat, breathe and sleep sports, it was a natural fit for us.”
90min, its first platform for soccer citizen journalists in Europe, South America and Asia, has more than 110 million users engaged through social media monthly, 70 percent of them under the age of 25.
12up was launched in May as a media platform for fans of American sports. In private beta testing for two months, 12up built up to reach more than four million unique users, mostly through mobile use and mostly between the ages of 18 and 24.
At the time of its rollout, more than 100 new pieces of content were being developed by citizen journalists and 12up’s editorial staff on a daily basis.
Minute Media president Rich Routman said the addition of 12up “fills a void in the sports media landscape for fans and brands, especially given the scarcity of sports media brands that can deliver the millennial audience at scale.”
“We felt it made sense to have a global football site and a US sports brand,” said Har, explaining that “90min” refers to the 90 minutes in a soccer game, while “12up” is an American football term.
From articles to listicles Writers on the 90min and 12up platforms can combine user-generated content with templates and resources including Getty images, YouTube videos and widgets to embed rich media content into their articles, quizzes, slideshows, videos, listicles and other multimedia content.
Readers can interact with the content via website, mobile web and iOS and Android mobile apps. In May, noted Har, 90min readers numbered 53 million.
Globally, he added, no other sports-media company matches the reach of 90min. “We cater to dozens of different markets and nobody else does what we do. Our full-service platform holds the site together and everything we do is across multiple languages.”
Minute Media has offices in London, Tel Aviv, Singapore, and most recently in New York and Miami.
“From our Tel Aviv office, we cover English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Turkish and Portuguese; and from our Manila office we cover Indonesian, Thai and Vietnamese,” said Har.
Although 12up has some competition in the United States, it offers a unique opportunity for brand advertisers to earn dollars through a cost-per-engagement model. 12up also features programmatic technology to automate targeted media trading and sales.
“Having a technology-first approach has truly enabled us to scale our multi-language storytelling platform and as a result, thousands of fans can now share their love of the game with other fans around the world,” explained Har.
Cricket, e-sports up next In late June, Minute Media announced a partnership with HT Media to bring fan-created soccer content to India – home to the world’s largest soccer fan base, numbering 170 million. Indian cricket fans will also benefit from the partnership.
“Cricket is the second most followed sport globally behind soccer,” Har said.
“It makes no sense not to include it.”
Minute Media also plans to launch an e-sports brand by the end of 2016.
“Hundreds of millions of people watch other people play video games, and we are going to cover the e-sports athletes of the world,” Har said. “In the US there are more e-sports fans than baseball fans and it’s predicted it will exceed any other sport in US. It is also massive across Asia and Europe. This fits perfectly into our demographic, so we’re excited about the potential.”
Har said that Minute Media predicts 100 million unique users for its platforms by the end of 2016. “In the US, we’re expecting 20 million unique users of 12up.”
Peled said the Minute Media platforms turn the typical publishing business model and experience on its head by “enabling fans to drive the conversation, through our content curation engine.”