WinView, a Sports Betting Start-Up, Raises $12 Million
SAN FRANCISCO — As the two big daily fantasy sports sites, DraftKings and FanDuel, seek to merge to bolster their struggling businesses, a start-up with a different approach to sports betting has garnered some prominent new backers.
WinView, which lets users make free wagers on sports games in real time, plans to announce on Monday that it has raised $12 million in a new round of financing.
The backers are Graham Holdings, the former owner of The Washington Post; Discovery Communications; Ted Leonsis, the owner of the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals; and LionTree, a boutique investment bank.
The new investors represent the latest show of support for WinView as the company promotes a different way for fans to play alongside sporting events. With the company’s apps for Apple and Android devices, users can make predictions on developments in a game in real time and win cash prizes.
So far, WinView offers the chance to play alongside National Football League, National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball games.
For Tom Rogers, the former TiVo chief executive who became WinView’s chairman last year, the company’s business offers a new way for sports fans to engage with games in real time. He also suggested that the company could offer solace for broadcasters like ESPN, whose business has been decimated by a drop in viewers.
“The entire sports television world, I think, it’s still the last bastion of live TV and simultaneous live audiences,” he said. “The viewing experience has to be changed, and it has to become more interactive and social. The only way to counter that is to coordinate the mobile device so that is part of the marketing message.”
The service has about 130,000 users, Mr. Rogers said, even though it spends little on marketing, in contrast to the daily fantasy sports operators’ enormous ad spending. WinView mostly relied on social media spots on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.
The company has sought to differentiate itself from daily fantasy sports in another fundamental way: Because WinView does not charge an entry fee, it says that it can operate legally nationwide. DraftKings and FanDuel are fighting to legalize their business in a number of states.
For now, WinView is supported by advertising from PepsiCo and others. Mr. Rogers said that the company was working on pay-to-play options, similar to how its European competitors operate.
The new round of financing will go toward adding more sports and working with Discovery’s Eurosport network to expand beyond American sports. Mr. Rogers also pointed to another avenue for WinView to explore: viewers of e-sports.
“The gamers watching the gamers, the way e-sports has always been watched, don’t have a game themselves,” he said.
The new investors represent the latest show of support for a company that lets users make free wagers on major games in real time.
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