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Greenfly’s Miro AI Acquisition Reflects Growing Value of Short-Form Content

Greenfly’s Miro AI Acquisition Reflects Growing Value of Short-Form Content

Greenfly, a short-form content collection and digital distribution platform, recently acquired Miro AI. Miro’s image processing technology has historically been used to identify athletes and logos in photos and video of mass participation events (think: marathons).

Deal terms were not disclosed. Sportico reported it was a multimillion-dollar transaction.

Greenfly’s decision to lean into growth and investment at a time when many startups have shifted their focus to profitability is noteworthy (the company also hired three senior execs and built out its overseas capabilities in recent months), and reflective of the rising demand for short-form and mobile content.

The increasing demand is driving value in short-form and mobile programming. And sports properties cognizant of that reality are increasingly investing resources in the personnel and technologies necessary to effectively monetize it.

“A few years ago, almost no leagues had a content or social contributor program," Daniel Kirschner (president and CEO, Greenfly) said. "Now, pretty much every league has one."

Greenfly believes its acquisition of Miro AI will lead to improved organization and searchability on its mobile app, and ultimately to increased market share and revenues.

“The quality of the short-form video content experience is really dictated by the curation of that content,” Kirschner said. “If the best content isn’t identified, and the most relevant content doesn’t flow to the most relevant [end user], it doesn’t work.”

The live game broadcast has historically been viewed as the ‘main event’ and short-form content, particularly vertical video captured on mobile phones, was largely seen as a secondary marketing vehicle.

“It was something rights owners did and put on social media to drive ticket sales and community engagement,” Kirschner said.

But that mentality has started to change in recent years.

“There is an increasing understanding amongst professional sports organizations that video captured at field level or in the locker room is now a core part of the fan experience,” Kirschner said. “People are waking up in the morning, opening their phone, and watching a bunch of short-form content.”

They’re doing the same post-game. So, sports organizations have started to try and figure out how they can derive value from that content.

The first step is operationalizing its collection, organization, and distribution.

Sports properties, including the NBA, NHL and MLB use the Greenfly app to capture content from mobile devices in venues. The platform also pulls in photos and short form video content from a host of other sources, including Getty Images and WSC Sports.

The problem is while some content providers are descriptive with their metadata (see: Getty Images), many others are not. And without proper tagging, Greenfly cannot deliver the automated, curated viewing experience fans have come to expect.

So, the company went out and bought Miro AI, the technology it uses to tag and organize content.

“We want [the platform's] capabilities to go beyond tagging who is in a photo or video, or what sport is being played,” Kirschner said. “We’re getting into things like contextual processing and scene recognition.”

Once collected, tagged, and organized in real time, Greenfly routes or distributes the content to its owner (think: team, league, brand partner).

“A league like the NBA, has thousands of people on the platform and they are all getting their own personally curated, automated, feed of content relevant to them,” Kirschner said.

Prior to Greenfly’s emergence in 2014, content collection and distribution were manual processes. Rights owners would have staff members capturing content on their phones and posting directly to the social platforms. There was little to no searchability for the clips shot.

“If the staff member quit the organization, the content went with them,” Kirschner said. “It wasn’t stored anywhere. It wasn’t organized. It wasn’t packaged or sold.”

And if an athlete wanted a clip for his or her own personal feed, the staff member would have to email or text it over.

“So, you’re talking about a very small number of pieces of content being distributed to athletes,” Kirschner said.

The content that flows through the Greenfly platform can be used for various purposes. Some rights owners push it out across their own social media channels, others send it to broadcast partners and/or sponsors.

And then, of course, the content gets distributed to the athletes.

“By way of reference, the players alone in one of the top three U.S. leagues had almost 80,000 downloads on Greenfly this past season,” Kirschner said.

Content being consumed on social platforms is inherently creating value (think: jersey patch sponsor exposure). But if all the rights owner is doing is posting to those channels, little direct revenue is being generated.

Sports properties have come to understand that and are now starting to experiment with various business models that should enable them to monetize short-form content in the future.

“Whether that is subscription models with fans, content to broadcasters with fees packages, or the sponsored distribution of it to fans,” Kirschner said.

It’s not clear what the best or most efficient way to monetize the programming is, yet. However, powering content rich apps that supplement the live broadcast feed seems to make sense.

While it remains early days, Dan Cohen (EVP, global media rights consulting, Octagon) believes rights owners will eventually be able to monetize short-form content in a meaningful manner. For contextual purposes, highlights used in shoulder programming or recap shows can bring tens of millions of dollars per year.

“We are bullish on the growth and value of near-live highlights. We’ve studied the next-gen fan, and these fans demand quick, interactive, and shareable highlights at nearly a 2x engagement rate than 5 years ago," he said. "The key, however, will be to strike the balance between enhanced highlight delivery and the live, in-game broadcast. The last thing you want to do is siphon off value from where you bread gets buttered financially.”