We return to speak to Luke McCoy of LIGR Live.
The company’s evolution has been impressive with their growth further heightened by their recent announcement they have secured funding from Alston Elliot Graphics as well as Sydney angel fund, Investible.
What has changed in-between the times we last spoke in May 2018? Can you reflect on that journey?
Luke McCoy: “It’s been exciting. Since we last spoke, the rest of 2018 and 2019 was about proving our product in the market across four different sports – basketball, football, cricket and Australian rules football – and since then we’ve proved the product in the market and converted those one-year or trial users into larger two and three-year deals. One of the best things about being in a startup and getting traction is when you get that validation and conversion into longer term deals. As you may have seen recently, doing that has also attracted further investment from old and new shareholders, including Alston Elliot Graphics, the leading broadcast graphics company in the world for high end productions. Our team has grown to double figures and we are getting ready to launch access to our completely new self serve, next-gen graphics platform, LIGR.Live.”
One of the things we spoke about the first time around which was quite illuminating to me was the lack of value that grassroots and semi-professional sports put on their live streams. Has that attitude shifted?
LM: “It absolutely has and we’re living in a world now where everything is digital first and content is as much king as it ever was. I think what’s happening now is there has been a shift to producing more content and trying to achieve that at a higher level. The awareness of production value has changed for the better.
“You can’t just stream one game a week now if you’re a sports league, you need to be able to stream every game and do them well. There is a true expectation that didn’t exist even three-years ago. And what we’ve found is that audience viewership is actually linear at the sub-elite levels. You stream six matches and you’ll get six times the audience as you open up all fans of the game. Generally, teams in the sub-elite tiers hold a highly localised, engaged audience. The same people will login and watch their team every week if they can’t attend the games, and if they are devoted followers of the league they will often move across to other games if they are all streamed. To build up an audience at lower tiers that you can commercialise and grow your game, it’s a fairly simple formula. You need to stream lots of content and at a high quality, and be able to integrate sponsors and report on those sponsor displays against our aggregated audience to prove value. This was traditionally impossible and financially not viable with traditional production solutions. With LIGR we make this a reality.”
Let’s look at the current potential trajectory of LIGR, you’re certainly a vital cog in the virtual production stack. What’s your take on that?
LM: “Absolutely and everyone has a connection to everyone involved in that ‘virtual stack’. Automation is definitely on the rise but we try not to connect ourselves completely with automation because we can still be utilised as a very viable, sustainable graphics option for high end, ‘traditional/manual productions’, with directors, producers, multiple cameras, replays and more.
“With a virtual stack it gives you a technological workflow that doesn’t need to be on-site. You can operate many of your major production processes off-site/remotely and often on-site components are your largest expense. Think people, travel, hardware on-site. It’s not scalable for mid to lower tier productions.
“The long-tail is what everyone is talking about, particular with the virtual production stacks. How can the industry as a whole commercialise the long tail broadcasts sustainably while making it so these clubs/leagues/federations/associations can jump on board without having to spend a ‘TV budget’, which they couldn’t get near anyway. Mid to lower tier productions are only possible through innovation in broadcast technology that enables economies of scale.”
Take me through some of your crucial client wins and proof of concepts in the time we’ve spoken?
LM: “We’ve seen a bit of a network effect I’d say, particularly with football and Australian rules football. Football is a good example because in 2017 we partnered with Football NSW and we were doing two games a week. Now in 2020 we are doing 18 games a week and the initial work we did with Football NSW exposed us to the other football member federations, like Football Victoria and Football West, and we were able to grow into those leagues within a season. The same thing happened in Australian rules, we worked with the SANFL which led us to working with the AFL’s NAB (Under-18’s) League.
“Our big focus with our clients is how they can commercialise LIGR. A lot of the features that we build are around sponsorship integration, how do they actually want to sell sponsors within a broadcast, a lot of these leagues have never done that for their lower division games. I mean they weren’t streaming games and now they are, and that happened very fast. Most sports administrators working within those leagues don’t have experience selling advertisements or sponsorships into broadcast, whereas now they are basically media channels and need to be able to connect local and national sponsors to their broadcasts. LIGR provides a platform to connect brands, sponsors and do activations in live-game broadcasts, while being able to report on those activations and displays in game. They now have a digital asset that’s been created for them which is ultimately fantastic for the game, but does require further devotion to selling that commercial space.”
As this is a journey and won’t be the last of our conversations, what’s next in LIGR’s growth story? What milestones are you aiming to achieve?
LM: “I’m pretty excited to get overseas. While the opportunities have been fantastic here in Australia, from a grassroots community the rest of the world, purely just through population, has a large market ready to expand it’s live content. US colleges and high schools, the lower divisions of European leagues and more. So from our point of view it’s really about proving the problem here, solving that problem and getting the wins that we’ve talked about. We care deeply about working with our clients down under to ensure they’re happy and want to move forward deeper into our product and the problems we solve and opportunities we create. Then it’s about getting overseas and solving these same problems in a scalable manner.
“With the capital we have raised from our shareholders and new investors like AEG and Investible, we are well placed to build a world class product that can make an impact on the world stage of sports broadcasting.”
To learn more about LIGR and to register your interest for early access to their next-gen graphics for live sport go to: https://www.ligrsystems.com/register-interest.