There’s money in the beautiful game, even if it’s not very evenly distributed. London-headquarted 90min, which describes itself as a ‘contributor-driven’ football media platform (meaning that it relies largely on unpaid, volunteer writers) has raised a further $15 million.
Leading the round is German media group ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE, while 90min’s existing backers, Battery Ventures, Dawn Capital and Gemini Ventures, also participated. It brings total funding for the 2011-founded startup to $39 million over four rounds.
The involvement of ProSiebenSat.1 can be seen as a strategic investment and will include the launch of a co-branded joint venture targeting the German football market with what both companies are calling a “combined digital offering”.
“It is a great strategic fit for our digital sports portfolio and we look forward to establishing 90min as a leading brand in Germany,” says Zeljko Karajica, Chief Officer Sports Business ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE, in a statement.
90min (formerly known as FTBpro.com) claims to be the leading football fan platform, and sees contributors produce 4-500 pieces of original daily, garnering 30 million unique users per month across Europe, Latin America and South East Asia.
Founder Asaf Peled describes the startup’s mission as enabling “large scale content creation by thousands of contributors we’ve never met in person, in 10 different languages, across rich content formats and endless device types – while maintaining authenticity, quality and editorial sense for tens of millions of consumers.”
To do that successfully and in a relatively short period of time, Peled cites 90min’s combination of technology and media talent under one roof from day one. “You’d never be able to reach such global media scale without being a technology-first company,” he adds.
To that end, 90min competes with a plethora of football (or soccer) focussed content sites, including major media brands and newspapers as well as the likes of Bleacher Report (acquired by Turner) and SB Nation (operated by Vox Media).
Regarding the latter two, Peled notes that they are “both very American sports-focused” and only available in one language. “We are more global,” he says. “In addition, we are the only open platform in sports, allowing dozens of publishers to auto embed our rich content on their sites.”
Another difference is that over time Bleacher and SB Nation have begun to move away from unpaid contributors — or, kindly put, citizen journalism — towards using traditional paid journalists. “We would always stick to 100 per cent authentic, unknown, fan contributors,” Peled says. That’s free content to you and me, and presumably to the ears of 90min’s investors too.