NeuLion, JumpTV Merger To Extend Platform Reach of Sports Content

By Carolyn Braff

Earlier this week, JumpTV and NeuLion announced a merger that will offer sports content owners more ways than ever to reach their fans. For its 200 professional, international and college sports partners, the merged entity will deliver content via JumpTV’s Internet model, NeuLion’s IPTV set top box model and a variety of mobile platforms, utilizing NeuLion’s technical strength to enhance JumpTV’s signature customer relationship management tools.

“We think that sports properties should have their content on as many devices, portals and distribution planks as possible,” explains G. Scott Paterson, chairman of JumpTV and executive vice president-to-be of the merged entity. “Our core business is to build and host websites, and to the extent that the content owners are interested in pushing that distribution out to other portals or mobile devices or to a set top box, then we’re offering that turnkey solution to assist them.”

The turnkey solution that Paterson envisions aligns JumpTV’s strength in back-end software capabilities, JumpTV hosts the Web sites and e-commerce engines for 150 US colleges, with NeuLion’s forte in streaming technology as NeuLion founder Nancy Li and her husband Charles Wang, founder and former owner of Computer Associates, have years of experience in software creation.

“They are pureblood software folks,” Paterson explains. “They think and breathe technology and software.”

According to Paterson’s vision, the fully integrated company will ingest each client’s content, encode it in various formats, stream it to multiple platforms – including computers, set top boxes and mobile devices – and add wrappers that enable social networking, make VOD available, offer statistical information, include an e-commerce engine that sells apparel and tickets and integrate JumpTV’s One-Fan Profile customer relationship management tool.

“One-Fan Profile is really the key to our success,” Paterson explains. “It enables us to track the person, tells us something about you, and then we can serve up things that are more valuable and optimize the value of you as a fan.”

Paterson envisions shipping out NeuLion’s set top boxes in customizable colors – scarlet and grey for Ohio State fans, for example – to parents and alumni of each partner school, as well as fans of WCSN and FIFA properties, through which supporters can watch any of their team’s streamed athletic events.

“If my child is on the swimming team at Ohio State, or if I’m an alumnus, it’s a drop in the bucket to buy a set top box and be able to watch that content right on my television,” Paterson says.

While the philosophy of what the new company will be is already beginning to gel, the physical details are a bit murkier. The corporate offices of the newly merged entity will be located in Plainview, NY, the site of NeuLion’s current offices, but the parent company will remain Canadian and listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (JumpTV’s operations are currently based in Toronto). As for the name of the new company, that is just one of the many questions yet to be answered.

“We haven’t decided that quite yet,” Paterson says. “The deal finally closes September 30, but we’ve started to operate like a joint company almost as of today.”