A startup aiming to change how the world watches sport has raised £2.1 million in seed funding.

London-based Sport Buff was founded in 2019 by tech entrepreneur Benn Achilleas and global broadcast leader Jonty Whitehead. Its gamification and on-screen engagement tools are already used by Major League Soccer in the US and major broadcasters.

Following a pre-seed round last year, it has now raised seed financing from London-based Sport Republic, Longboard Capital in the US, Calvert Drive (New Zealand) and Intrepid Ventures (Cyprus), alongside personal investment from a number of individuals including Matthew Benham, owner of Premier League club Brentford FC.

Investment firm Sport Republic owns Premier League club Southampton.

“Our investment in Sport Buff at this early stage is testament not only to our belief in the business, its leadership and its delivery but the opportunity they can bring across our businesses and to the global sports and broadcast industry,” said Henrik Kraft, chairman & co-founder of Sport Republic.

“The global sport market is worth over $50bn in media rights and $200bn in betting revenues alone. It needs ways to increase engagement, build audiences and create fresh commercial opportunities – especially with next generation audiences – and Sport Buff can deliver all three.

“Whilst this summer has seen challenging conditions for investment, when the right business and opportunity presents itself there will always be strong interest.”

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Sport Buff graphics fit around the original coverage and broadcaster’s layout to give viewers extra information, engagement and interaction – through posts, polls and quizzes – that enhance their enjoyment and understanding and allow them to win rewards and prizes. 

The firm says that broadcasters using its tools are proven to increase viewing time, capture valuable data and drive greater engagement with their viewers, as well as create new on-screen sponsorship assets, helping them to better engage, retain and monetise their audience.

The company’s president Whitehead holds 30 years of experience in TV sports production and rights working with broadcasters including beIN Media Group in the Middle East, Fox Sports in North America and Sky Sports in the UK. 

CEO Achilleas built sports technology and digital engagement specialists TrueFan, neoco and Playabl, working with global consumer sports and entertainment brands such as Sony PlayStation, 2K Games, Real Madrid, Juventus and Manchester City and technology partners including Samsung, YouTube and Microsoft.

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“This investment round is a huge endorsement for our product, delivery and vision and will drive the next big steps in our development,” said Achilleas.

“It brings significant funding combined with the huge experience, valuable connections and excellent advice of investors, which will help us to scale-up, reach new partners and deliver for viewers, brands and broadcasters.

“Sport Buff works for rights holders, broadcasters and consumers as viewers are proven to play and stay with the coverage, then come back for more. We’re changing the way the world watches sport.

“We have significant global deals, with broadcasters and rights holders, both in place and in the pipeline and we’ve continued to grow our capabilities through important hires in the UK, Europe, North America and the Middle East.”