June 8, 2014
Burst: New Platform & Deal with NESN Allows for Crowdsourcing of Videos from Fans

At the ripe age of 26, Bryant McBride was poached by Gary Bettman to become the VP of Business Development for the National Hockey League. He was Bettman’s seventh hire. 

McBride, originally from Ontario, Canada and a hockey player himself, had success both on and off the ice. He split his collegiate playing years between the United State Military Academy at West Point and Trinity College in Connecticut, both of which he was the first black class president. He would then go on to complete his masters here in Boston at the Harvard Kennedy School. 

He carried this success through seven plus years with the NHL before finally realizing what he truly wanted to do - build things. So, in 2000, he left the NHL to join and help build an online registration business for team sports, which was eventually acquired by Active Network

McBride would go on to spend another 7+ years as the CEO of a youth sports marketing company before launching an investment firm. To date, McBride and his team have built seven startups with 5 exits, including sales to ESPN and Sports Illustrated. 

McBride tells me that about 5 years ago he and his team saw what was coming in mobile & video and knew they needed to invest. They explored a variety of opportunities, but ultimately decided to build what they have envisioned themselves.  So in April 2011, Burst was born. 

McBride and his Co-Founders, Paul Levy & Tracy Deforge, hired a tech team here in Boston as well as additional talent in India to help with the build of the product, which was originally a platform to allow parents to take and share video of their kids on the playing field. This platform allowed people to share video across any web destination. This grew to see companies such as the American Business Journals using it to produce video content on their site from meetings and events. 

McBride knew there was more to this, though. A bigger play. He realized the opportunity to own the VOP, or Video Origination Point was the key. If you own that, you own the library, customer data, customer experience and most importantly, the economics. 

Burst entered into discussions with NESN, who wanted to get younger and “mobile.” Stations, like NESN or your local news broadcaster, benefit from viewer-produced video/content, but it “would take months to cipher through what was out there,” McBride was told. This is where the new Burst platform came in… 

Burst now offers up a simple way for media companies to seamlessly crowd source user-generated mobile video and deliver this content directly into live television systems.

With this new platform they announced an integrated partnership with NESN, who is now pulling live fan videos (as seen in the video below) to show during Red Sox broadcasts. 

Fans get to see their video on a Sox broadcast and NESN gets new, engaging content from viewers, which can be monetized through sponsorship (the system comes complete with pre and post-roll built-ins). 

NESN isn’t just looking for in-stadium video, though. They are interested in all types of fan experience like enjoying the game at Bleacher Bar or at a home BBQ.  NESN is interested in this type of fan engagement and Burst makes it simple for everyone. 

As a consumer you simply follow the call-to-action (in-stadium or on TV – “Text ‘ONTV’ to 536536”) and follow the prompts. As a media company, Burst does most of the work for you. It eliminates 80% of submissions through its filters (algorithm prioritizes time, location, date, surroundings, vision, etc.) before a production assistant reviews and decides on the remaining 20%. 

The deal with NESN is hopefully, one of many to come as they are in discussions with several more partners.  The market is huge. In the sports & entertainment space alone there are 50,000 events per year. The studio opportunities are even bigger. Think of your local weatherman driving 20 miles with a camera crew just to get an out-of-studio shot (a $3-5K job). 

McBride and his team realize they need to accelerate their growth in order to stay ahead of any competition, so they’re looking to raise their next round of funding.  To date, they have raised $5.5M from high-net worth individuals and their own money. Their list of investors includes: Katie Couric; Tom DiBenedetto - part-owner of the Boston Red Sox; Fay Vincent - former MLB Commissioner; Jess Itzler, Marquis Jets and PureBrands; Bryan Koop, Boston Properties; Jeff Price, Sporting News and Sports Illustrated (former publisher); Mitch Semel, HuffPost Live at The Huffington Post senior (SVP and executive editor); CNN (senior executive producer); Krish Dasgupta, ESPN (VP of technology); Steve Van Evera, MIT (professor); Lou Shipley, formerly of AVID Technologies.

So, the next time you are watching the Red Sox broadcast and you can see some fan submitted videos, you’ll know a Boston entrepreneur & company is behind the scenes making that possible.

Josh Boyle is Director of Community & Marketing, VentureFizz.  You can follow him on Twitter: @jb_sid