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Exclusive: Digital content platform Sportskeeda eyes fresh fundraise

Porush Jain, Founder & CEO, Sportskeeda

Porush Jain, Founder & CEO, Sportskeeda

Bangalore-based Absolute Sports Pvt. Ltd, the company behind online sports content platform Sportskeeda, is looking to raise funds to grow its business, its chief executive said.

The Seedfund-backed company has hired YES Securities to raise $4 million to $5 million to invest in technology such as analytics that would help it understand user behaviour and roll out new products, Porush Jain told VCCircle.

The website caters to sports enthusiasts and presents news and reviews of national and international events sourced through freelance writers and its own reporters. It also allows readers to write articles, engage in debates and participate in quizzes and other contests.

The company, started in 2009, was bootstrapped for the first two years. It got funding in 2011 from Seedfund, which invested again in 2013, Jain said.

The platform has 100 freelance writers across India and the US and says it has published content from about 5,000 writers. It employs 40 full-time content writers at its offices in New Delhi, Kolkata and Bengaluru. Overall, it has 70 employees.

Jain said a majority of the site’s readers are young males in the age group of 15-35 years. Around two-thirds of its content is consumed by readers from India, the US, the UK, Australia and Canada, he added.

The company aims to double its traffic as it improves the quality of its content and as various sports leagues get popular in India, said Jain. It currently gets up to 80 million page views for its English website per month and about 10 million page views a month for its Hindi website. The annual average is 60 to 65 million page views a month, he said.

The company earns revenue through advertising and fees for promotion of various sports leagues. It reported revenue of Rs 8 crore for 2015-16 and expects the top line to increase to Rs 15 crore for the year through March 2017.

Sportskeeda is one of many digital media ventures that have sprung up in India over the past few years, lured by growing usage of smartphones and the Internet. A number of other ventures are looking to tap into the rising popularity of football, tennis, badminton and a host of other sports in the cricket-crazy nation, although few operate on the crowdsourced content model that Sportskeeda follows.

Other players in the digital sports content segment include Times Internet Ltd-backed Cricbuzz and ESPN Cricinfo are among the top platforms for cricket-related news and information. Times Internet, the digital arm of Bennet, Coleman and Co. Ltd, acquired Cricbuzz.com in 2014.

In 2015, Times Internet tied up with Perform Group’s football portal Goal to deliver content worldwide. In June, HT Media Ltd picked up a 50.5% stake in Singapore-based Sports Asia Pte. Ltd, which operates a digital platform for football-related content. Foottheball.com is another digital content startup focused on football that started operations this year.

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