The FloSports logo.

Streaming company FloSports is interesting for their verticals covering a wide range of properties, including racing, cycling, baseball, college conferences and more. And 2021 was a notable year for them, including a couple of big acquisitions, a deal with NASCAR for NASCAR Roots properties, the Castrol FloRacing Night In America events they organized, and more. Recently, FloSports senior vice president (global rights acquisition and subscription) Phil Wendler spoke to AA by e-mail about what happened for them in 2021, why racing has been a success story for them, what they look at when targeting rights, and what’s ahead for them this year. To start with, Wendler discussed their two key 2021 acquisitions, Trackwrestling and HockeyTech.

“FloSports made two significant acquisitions in 2021,” Wendler said. “The first was Trackwrestling, a platform that combines a robust suite of event management and online tools with FloSports’ live and on-demand wrestling programming and industry leading content. The second was HockeyTech, a leading live and on-demand streaming platform and data provider. The deal included all of HockeyTech’s assets including its media rights portfolio, HockeyTV – a live and on-demand streaming platform – and LeagueStat. HockeyTV is bringing over 30,000 live hockey games across 75 North American elite and professional leagues to FloSports, which significantly bolsters our hockey vertical.”

On the racing front, eight of the top ten events watched on FloSports in 2021 were dirt-track racing events, and five of the top 10 events that generated the most new subscribers in 2021 were racing events. Wendler said racing was a big area of growth for them this past year, citing the importance of both their NASCAR Roots deal and Castrol FloRacing Night In America.

“FloSports announced a landmark streaming partnership with NASCAR to make FloRacing, FloSports’ dedicated motorsports platform, the home of NASCAR Roots properties,” he said. “This partnership represents FloSports’ dedication to boost its racing vertical, which has seen tremendous growth, and deliver the best in grassroots racing to fans across the world. FloRacing also successfully launched Castrol FloRacing Night In America, which featured 10 races that ran from March – October 2021. This move made FloSports the first OTT/sports streaming company to independently organize and produce a motorsports racing event of this scale.”

He said FloRacing has been a great vertical for them, and it went to a new level in 2021 with these moves.

“We have been relentless in our efforts to partner with the best events, tracks, series and rights holders in racing with the aim of building the best grassroots motorsports platform ever. Through authentic storytelling, building a genuine connection with our subscribers and elevating grassroots racing, FloRacing doubled its audience in 2021 and has been earning praise from NASCAR drivers and the industry at large. We doubled the programming offered to fans, and they are responding. At the 2022 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals just a week or so ago, we saw massive increases in streaming consumption, including a 60 percent increase in unique viewership year-over-year and a 96 percent increase in live minutes consumed for that one event alone.”

But Wendler said racing was just one area where they made notable rights deals in 2021, also pointing out wrestling, grappling, cheerleading, hockey, cycling, rugby and track as bolstered areas.

“The commonality between them all is that we are fortunate to collaborate with great partners who seek a common vision as FloSports and want to help deliver passionate fans with the proper programming and content they deserve. 2021 was a year of success for many of our sports verticals, and this is just the beginning as we begin 2022 with the plan to continue advancing the sports that are underserved.”

He said their overall focus when picking up rights is finding events people are passionate about, and then trying to grow the whole sport from there.

“Our aim is to be the leader in live distribution of non-top tier sports segments with a purpose to connect fans with the sports they’re most passionate about but are not able to consume through traditional linear networks or other streamers. Our business model works. When we acquire rights in any sport we look well beyond the money and viewership.  Our ambition is to grow the entire economies of the sports we live in. For FloSports to win, our partners have to win, too. That’s why it’s critical we align with partners who share our vision and who are fully committed to our model.”

Streaming is taking off widely for sports, with most linear networks now offering a companion over-the-top streaming service and with sports rights winding up on many of those services. Wendler said he thinks that validates FloSports’ OTT approach, and he thinks there’s still room for what they do well even with increased numbers of OTT services out there.

“FloSports was born digital and has always been a direct-to-consumer business. That the rest of the sports media world has come our way only reaffirms what we’ve believed all along. There are a large number of sports communities that do not fit in mainstream sports media’s business model. We want to give these sports the love they deserve by leveraging our sport-specific channels along with the deep resources our company and platform provide.”

Wendler said their strategy encompasses partner events, their own owned-and-operated events, and original content, and all of those areas are set for growth in 2022.

“In 2022, FloSports will be home to a breadth of content, including events from our partners, owned and operated events created by FloSports, and new compelling original programming. With one subscription, fans and viewers are able to access all that FloSports has to offer and we look forward to continuing being an innovator and evolving with our consumers’ interests at the core of what we do.”

He said to expect more rights expansion as well, but under the sustainable growth model they’ve used to date.

“FloSports is dedicated to solidify being the bridge between fans and the sports and content that they’re looking for. After a year full of exciting moments across the board, this is just the beginning and we want to continue expanding our footprint and delivering premium viewing experiences for fans around the world. Our sustainable growth model and vast interest amongst various emerging sports has us excited and geared up to continue being the medium for fans to engage and soak in premier content and viewing experiences throughout the year.”

 

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously worked at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.