By Daniel Marcus
The following is an article that originally appeared on Forbes.
The average sports content consumer has probably never heard of Minute Media, but chances are they consume their content on a weekly (if not daily) basis. The international media conglomerate with home bases in Israel, New York, and London has been quietly and opportunistically scooping up some of the more prominent and heavily-trafficked sports content brands over the past couple of years including The Big Lead, Fansided, and The Players’ Tribune.
The obvious question on people’s minds, which was raised to Minute Media’s Chief Revenue Officer and key cog in the company driving revenue well into the nine-figures annually, Rich Routman, is how Minute Media is making money off of brands/properties that were notoriously unprofitable.
“The notion of being a standalone publishing business requires a lot more infrastructure than just content and sales, which is what we have here at Minute Media,” said Routman.
Minute Media’s secret (though becoming not-so-secret) weapon is their technology infrastructure. Typically content-centric businesses require a number of software tools in addition to a Content Management System (or “CMS”) like a WordPress in order to operate the business. That used to require the publisher to obtain about half a dozen subscriptions to various service providers in order to simply run the business. “We developed a singular technology that replaces the need to purchase separately from all these other vendors. B2B (business to business) licensing of our technology to publishers around the world including Germany’s ProSieben and FanDuel, drives nine figures in revenue annually,” Routman noted.
The underlying technology that powers these brands has become such a critical piece of Minute Media’s business, that they just capped off a $40 million round of fundraising that was led by London’s Dawn Capital in order to continue to make investments into its publishing platform. In order to appreciate the power of their technology, according to Routman, Minute Media powers “North of a billion video streams each month in North America alone, the majority of which aren’t coming from our properties.”
Minute Media’s “behind the scenes” but critical role as an infrastructure provider for the publishing ecosystem is reminiscent of Amazon’s investment into its own infrastructure that eventually became Amazon Web Services - or for those who want more of an “apples to apples” sports analogy, what Major League Baseball did when it established Major League Baseball Advanced Media, which eventually grew to such a scale that it provided the infrastructure for HBO’s streaming initiatives.
In a day in age where media businesses are folding, consolidating and being written down (and eventually written off) by their investors, the reactionary response has been to move away from advertising towards subscription-based models like The Athletic. However, the success of Minute Media proves that there is a proverbial third (and perhaps even a fourth) door in respect to building a sustainable media business. In addition to investing in technology, the sheer scale of Minute Media has enabled them to enjoy the benefits of the economies of said scale, creating a path to profitability that simply isn’t or wasn’t available for other sports media brands, including many of those that MM acquired over the past 18 months. Being able to cut down on the administrative bloat has enabled the company to double down on content.
“The core part of the asset that makes us most excited is the content”, said Routman. Whereas other companies in the space are laying off scores of people on the content side, Minute Media is reinvesting. “You need to retain and grow the content operation, we’re going to invest more in content and make sure these people have incentive to stay,” Routman added.
In respect to Minute Media’s philosophy and how it led them to where they are today, Routman looks at the task at hand in simple terms: “We’re not launching rocket ships into outer space, we’re just trying to build a profitable content business.” It’s obviously easier said than done but clearly Minute Media is doing it.