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Toronto entrepreneurs, marketers and other business-types looking to do a little learning and to get in some crucial networking time can look forward to a range of events over the next few weeks. Here are three events not to miss.

StartmeUp Ryerson
Sleeman Breweries may have lost its indie cred when it was bought by Japanese giant Sapporo back in 2006, but there’s still no denying that founder John Sleeman remains one of the most recognizable brewery honchos of this generation. A fixture on radio commercials during the last decade, Sleeman will be speaking at this Ryerson sponsored conference on November 15th, taking place at the Ted Rogers School of Management. Tickets are only $5, less than a price of a pint of Sleeman at most local establishments.

TEDxRyersonU
The second annual TEDxRyersonU takes place on November 20th, this time in a new off-campus location at Glenn Gould Studio. Speakers scheduled to appear this year include former Al Jazeera head of strategy Tony Burman, 500PX co-founder Evgeny Tchebotarev and Ryerson President Sheldon Levy. The application deadline to attend has now closed, but as a sponsor of the event we’re going to give away five free tickets. All you need to do is email contests [at] blogto [dotcom] explaining why we should give one of the tickets to you. The contest deadline is 11:59PM this Thursday (November 10th) and we’ll be notifying winners the next day (Friday). Good luck!

Mesh Marketing
The Mesh folks are back with a mini-conference they’re calling Mesh Marketing. Unlike their annual, two day Mesh Conference that takes place in May, Mesh Marketing is a one day affair (November 15th) where attendees can discuss and debate the future or marketing. If you’re looking for an accompanying drinking game, bring a flask and have a swig whenever someone mentions Twitter. The line-up of speakers includes Klout’s Joe Fernandez, PR guru Steve Rubel and Score Mobile’s Benjie Levy. Tickets are $99 for students and $599 for everyone else.

Also worth mentioning is AccelerateTO (which is unfortunately already sold out) taking place tomorrow at the ROM. I guess we can always just follow along on Twitter.

 

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May 12, 2011  |  Chris Powell  |  Comments

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Continuing its push into the exploding mobile space, Score Media has acquired U.S. sports app SportsTap – a former competitor to its ScoreMobile product – for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition significantly bolsters the Toronto media company’s presence in the key U.S. market.

“We’ve been making a really concerted effort and push in mobile since the early days of the platform,” said Benjie Levy, executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Score Media. “We recognized early on that this was going to be a very important platform for all users, and especially our young users.”

Launched in 2007, the ad-supported SportsTap is available for both the iPhone and Android platforms, and is currently the third most popular app on the rapidly growing Android platform – right behind ScoreMobile – with more than 98% of its audience in the U.S.

Score Media will continue to operate SportsTap as a separate entity. Like ScoreMobile, SportsTap offers updated scores and statistics from professional sports leagues around the world.

The company is currently setting up a New York sales office to capitalize on what Levy characterized as the “tremendous” audience growth Score Media is experiencing in the mobile space. “We now have the critical mass to do that in the U.S.,” said Levy. “Really helping to broaden our reach was a key driver for [the SportsTap] acquisition.

Levy said that combining SportsTap’s reach with Score Media’s expertise in developing mobile-specific ad programs will enable the company to crack the lucrative U.S. ad market.

As an example of the innovative things Score Media is doing in the mobile space, Levy pointed to initiatives such as last year’s “Bud Bar Finder” – an add-on to the ScoreMobile app developed in conjunction with Labatt Breweries of Canada’s Budweiser brand that provided users with TV listings for live sporting events on major TV networks, as well as maps and distances to local bars where the games were available for viewing.

While Score Media doesn’t break out its revenues by division, Levy said that digital – including both online and mobile – currently accounts for about 15% of its overall revenues. The digital division is currently operating at a break-even rate, said Levy, although the company is currently investing “heavily” in the product. It is currently operating with a staff of about 50, split between developers, technical staff and sales staff.

Score Media offers a full suite of mobile applications, including its flagship ScoreMobile product as well as the soccer-specific ScoreMobile FC and TheScore iPad edition. The products have an estimated 10 million downloads, but Levy said that its monthly user base of 3 million unique users is more representative of the company’s growing strength in mobile.

According to comScore’s MobiLens March 2011 report, which ranks mobile sports app audiences in the United States, the combined monthly audience of ScoreMobile and SportsTap is third behind ESPN and Yahoo, ahead of competitors including FOX and CBS. An estimated 65% of Score Media’s mobile users come from the U.S. and another 5% from other markets around the world, Levy said. The remaining 30% are from Canada.

“We’re in the age of on-demand content,” said Levy. “That’s what underlying our strong push into the mobile space, because to be able to communicate on a two-way basis with users on a device that’s carried around with them 24 hours a day is something that’s extremely powerful.”

The Hollywood Reporter

 

10:05 AM 5/12/2011 by Etan Vlessing

TORONTO – Canadian sports broadcaster Score Media has acquired rival U.S. mobile sports app SportsTap for an undisclosed price.

Toronto-based Score Media will add SportsTap to its own mobile app, ScoreMobile, to become the third largest U.S. smartphone sports app provider, behind ESPN and Yahoo.

“ScoreMobile’s acquisition of SportsTap brings together two innovative and popular services and positions us well to deliver even more exciting experiences for sports fans and creative solutions for our advertising partners,” said Benjie Levy, executive vp and COO of Score Media.

The ad-supported SportsTap app works on the iPhone and Android devices.

Score Media said it will operate SportsTap as a stand-alone business.

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By Raju Mudhar

Original article: http://bit.ly/eG2TVI

Is the Score like the Toronto Blue Jays? Or can it be Nintendo?

We’ve all seen how the Jays compare (or often don’t) to the Yankees and Red Sox, whereas Nintendo has found great success and new audiences by going down different technology paths than rivals Microsoft and Sony.

Like those two examples, the Score is dwarfed by two larger, free-spending rivals, but the company’s leadership says they’re really not competing in the same world as TSN and Rogers Sportsnet. Alternating between describing Canada’s sports media battle as an “arms race” or bemusedly making fun of their competitors as being in a hurried grocery store game show, running down the aisles scooping up talent and live event programming rights in sight, the Score says it doesn’t matter to them because they’re effectively playing a different game.

“It’s interesting. There’s a big battle happening in Canada that we’re up against, and they’re taking properties, and people are looking at us with sad eyes asking ‘Are you okay? What happened with March Madness? You lost it,’” says John Levy, CEO of The Score. “No one needs to feel bad for us. Our approach has always been totally different and the bottom line is that we’re moving in a different direction.”

The Score hasn’t come out unscathed due to the increased competition. March Madness was their biggest live programming event over the past four years, and the network did an excellent job with it. It’s now on TSN. Levy admits they’re not fit to go after live events like their competitors. As well, personalities have moved on, like Cabral “Cabbie” Richards (now on CTV’s The Marilyn Denis Show) and Steve Kouleas, who now hosts a hockey show on TSN2.

Levy admits March Madness was a property that fit the station like a glove, but its loss does nothing to stop the company’s momentum into new digital spaces, which so far are reaping great dividends. In the tech world, being first is a great boon, and the Score has been working in the mobile world since 2005.

The Score’s strategy is a fan-centric (and somewhat frat-boy flavoured), sports infotainment model that is designed to move easily between broadcast and digital platforms. Instead of going for former players as talking heads or using TV personalities to write for their website, it’s the other way around. They’re moving blog stars up the chain, like tapping Yahoo’s Puck Daddy, Greg Wyshynski, for their Sirius radio station, or giving successful local web entities like J.E. Skeets and Tas Melas, a.k.a. The Basketball Jones, their shot on TV. The plus side is that guys like TBJ remain social media machines creating podcasts and funny videos that go viral, so beyond ratings, management looks to being picked up on Deadspin.com and other influential sites as success.

But are those web personalities enough to keep people coming? Their coverage, both onscreen and off, often feels like a nice add-on as opposed to a necessity. It’s clear and commendable that they don’t look at their digital stuff as an afterthought, but looking critically at their site, while it does a good job showcasing their videos and podcasts, the news is almost buried, making it seem secondary and not a place to come for breaking sports news.

Another example is the Break, their humourous online show that looks at dubious sports headlines with Renee Paquette. It’s a nice snack to go with my sports diet as opposed to a meal of live events and highlights. On the plus side, they cite Paquette as an example of how they can grow their own personalities, and talked of developing the Break into a series. Since sports humour is very hot right now (The Onion SportsDome, Norm MacDonald’s oncoming Comedy Central series), that is something I’d be very curious to see.

In an app world, the Score already has apps for all mobile platforms and talks of taking advantage of new tablets, in addition to planning to build more, focusing on specific sports, talking up a recent ScoreFC football app that is gaining traction in Britain. Perhaps out of necessity, the Score is looking internationally for new audiences and revenue, saying they have plans to open up an ad sales office in the U.S. soon. The question for the network is if they can find a way to monetize that global audience, which is a challenge for any small player.

Locally speaking, the other fear is that they become little more than a farm team of talent for the bigger players. Their model is an interesting one, and one that bears watching as every media company moves from a broadcast-centric model to more of a web-centric one, and they admittedly feel further along than most. We’ll be checking our TVs, phones and tablets to see how they do.

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September 16, 2010   |   By Jeff Beer   |

In the crowded bleachers that are Canadian sports media, the battleground for brand distinction is increasingly digital. Between growth in online editorial and the emergence of mobile and iPad applications, engaging fans on multiple platforms has never been more important.

In a move to further enhance its digital presence, the Score Media announced today it has acquired a 20% stake in Toronto–based mobile and web development firm NuLayer. Score has been working with NuLayer over the last year on a number of its digital products, including the brand’s iPad app, which launched in July.

Financial details of the deal were not released.

The sports broadcaster’s executive vice–president and COO Benjie Levy said the deal will take the Score’s ability to develop new products to another level.

“The guys at NuLayer are incredibly smart and love pushing the envelope, so we’re thrilled to partner more closely with them,” said Levy. “Our overriding philosophy here is to focus on the user. How are people interacting with us and our content? There’s no question we’re seeing a shift in how people are consuming media, so for us to remain relevant, this type of innovation is essential. Opportunities like this only accelerate our ability to push into the digital world.”

Levy credits the Score’s aggressive multi–platform development for much of the company’s financial growth. The company’s reported revenue for third quarter this year increased by 11% to $12 million compared to $10.8 million at the same time last year.

“It’s important for us that we’re not just growing digital for digital’s sake,” said Levy. “It’s a positive contributor to our financial results. We’re not sitting here, investing a ton of money and hoping that there might be a financial return at some point down the road. This is a growing and meaningful part of our business.”

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Benjie Levy, Executive Vice President and Co-Chief Operating Officer, Score Media Inc. is photographed at Score’s studios in Toronto, Ont. April 20/2009.

 

Toronto — Globe and Mail Update Published on Thursday, Sep. 16, 2010 7:57AM EDT Last updated on Thursday, Sep. 16, 2010 8:03AM EDT

Score Media Inc. (SCR-T1.050.043.96%), a Toronto-based sports broadcaster, says it has acquired 20 per cent of NuLayer Inc., a software developer for mobile and Web-based services.

Financial terms of the deal, announced Thursday, were not released.

Score Media said the transaction helps the company develop new technologies for sports broadcasting services on the Web and through wireless applications for iPads and other devices around the world.

NuLayer, a customized software company, created a recently launched software application that provided Score services on iPads and is working on technology for social media and other applications.

“Our mobile, web and iPad platforms are growing exponentially and we are constantly looking for new, creative ways to further engage our fans,” Score Media’s chief operating officer Benjie Levy said in a release before stock markets opened Thursday.

“NuLayer understands our vision and through this investment, we’ve now created an environment where NuLayer and Score Media can continue to work together to develop innovative digital offerings while giving NuLayer the resources they need to achieve explosive growth.”

Jeff Brenner, co-founder of NuLayer, said “this opportunity marks a new era for our team and we cannot be more excited to work alongside theScore, a company that shares our passion for using technology to disrupt the market and grow a competitive business.”

Score Media’s main asset is the theScore Television Network, a national specialty television service providing sports news, information, highlights and live event programming across Canada. The company has 230 employees.

Go to The Globe and Mail

Susan Krashinsky Media Reporter

From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail Published on Monday, Jul. 26, 2010 6:34PM EDT Last updated on Monday, Jul. 26, 2010 7:34PM EDT

If only the touch-sensitive iPad screen were more responsive to those wearing a foam finger, sports fans would have just about everything they need.

Score Media Inc. (SCR-T0.91—-%) launched its exhaustive iPad application on Saturday, building on the Toronto-based media company’s offerings for other platforms beyond its specialty TV station.

Score Media has already had cross-border success with its smart phone apps for devices such as the iPhone and the BlackBerry. On the bigger screen of the iPad, it offers the usual stats and box scores, as well as blogs, videos and articles on sports ranging from college basketball to Frisbee and Red Bull Flugtag (a competition for “human-powered flying machines”).

With the launch, Score Media enters an arena where other media companies have been relatively slow to develop products. The Score’s biggest competitors in specialty television, Sportsnet and TSN, both have apps for the iPhone, but nothing specifically developed for the iPad yet.

ESPN has a similar product in ScoreCenter XL, but it costs $5 to download, while theScore iPad edition is free. Major League Baseball’s app is even pricier, at $15. Since its launch on Saturday, theScore is now the top free sports app and the second-most popular app overall in the Canadian iTunes store. In the U.S. store, it’s ranked second in the free sports category, just behind Sports Illustrated.

The divergent paths of paid vs. free are being navigated by media companies beyond just the sports realm. The Wall Street Journal, which has had success charging for its content on the Web, offers a free download for its iPad app, but then prompts users to subscribe, or register for free for a limited amount of content. BBC News is just one outlet with a rich, well-constructed free app.

For media companies that are not publicly financed, as the BBC is, such free apps depend on advertising for financial support. The Globe and Mail’s app, which launched Sunday, is one example, dominated so far by automotive ads. Score Media has a similar business model in mind, but ads are not yet launched on its app.

“We’re in front of our advertising partners right now with it, and the reaction has been positive so far,” said Benjie Levy, executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Score Media. The company has been successful selling ads for its mobile offerings – which have been downloaded 4.5 million times so far across the BlackBerry, iPhone and Android devices. Mr. Levy expects many of the same advertisers targeting young men, such as beer companies and fast food restaurants, will also be drawn to the iPad.

“Making it free turns the app into a more widespread marketing vehicle,” said independent technology analyst Carmi Levy. While paid apps can turn away part of a potential audience, he added, the right free apps could be the “ideal means of connecting audiences to media outlets more closely than ever before.”