LA Clippers Launch Dedicated 'ClipperVision' Streaming Service

Todd Bishop, GeekWire
Todd Bishop is GeekWire's co-founder and editor, a longtime technology journalist who covers subjects including cloud tech, e-commerce, virtual reality, devices, apps and tech giants such as Amazon.com, Apple, Microsoft and Google. Follow him @toddbishop, email todd@geekwire.com, or call (206) 294-6255.
Honey Clippers jersey
LA Tech Darling Honey Will Adorn Clippers Jerseys This Year

A new streaming service unveiled by the LA Clippers this morning reflects the philosophy of the franchise’s chairman, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, about the role the NBA and its teams should play in shaping the digital viewing experience.

“We need to define the future of watching basketball,” Ballmer said in an interview with GeekWire. “We’ll always do a better job of that than any distribution partner. Whether we distribute directly or through an ESPN or a TNT or an Amazon, or whoever gets into the business of distributing these things, the experience that makes this the best basketball possible will come, I believe, from our league.”

Called ClipperVision, the new service costs $199.99 per year. Available only to viewers in the Los Angeles market, it will provide access to all the team’s games except those broadcast nationally.

The strategy is the sports equivalent of a retail brand selling directly to consumers as an alternative to traditional distribution channels, establishing a tighter connection to their customers or fans.

However, the new Clippers’ service will also grapple with a growing trend of subscription fatigue as consumers become weary of all the monthly services needed to access different slices of content.

Nonetheless, , Ballmer said the approach reflects ongoing trends in media consumption.

“I think the world’s going to mass personalization, mass customization,” he said, explaining that he sees no reason to fight that trend. “Every other aspect of content is going that direction.”

The ability to stream games in the LA area is a major difference from the NBA’s $99.99/year League Pass, which doesn’t let fans watch games in their local markets due to restrictions built into regional TV deals.

Enabled by New TV Contract

For the Clippers, Ballmer said, gaining the ability to launch the service was a “fundamental part” of the team’s recent contract renewal with Bally Sports, which distributes Clippers games and is also launching its own streaming service.

ClipperVision is built on the NBA’s NextGen platform and other shared technologies, with a “clear path” for other teams to launch their own services if they wish, using their own variations on the approach, Ballmer said.

Bally Sports, a subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group, also holds the television rights to more than 20 other teams as part of its regional sports networks. Ballmer declined to speculate when asked if other NBA teams would use the Clippers’ new contract as a blueprint for their own renegotiations.

ClipperVision offers six viewing modes, including the team’s CourtVision augmented reality experience; Korean- and Spanish-language streams; and a live commentary mode called BallerVision, featuring former Clippers players such as Jamal Crawford, Baron Davis, and Paul Pierce, with guest appearances by Ballmer and celebrities.

BallerVision - Clippersyoutu.be

At launch, ClipperVision also comes with a special perk, a limited edition team jacket exclusive to subscribers. Ballmer said it was important to include something “physical and tangible” with the service.

One long-term goal is to unify user accounts across digital and in-person experiences.

“If you want to buy merchandise, or you’re coming into the arena, we already know you, and want to make your experience as personal as possible,” Ballmer said.

Like this year’s closely watched Clippers team, led by star players Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the organization’s new streaming service is many years in the making.

Evolution of Sports Viewing

Ballmer said he has been thinking about the potential for bringing new levels of interactivity to sports viewing since he was Microsoft CEO. He pointed out that the Microsoft Surface sponsorship deal with the NFL had its origins in talks about interactive Xbox viewing experiences that didn’t pan out at the time.

He was able to explore his ideas further after buying the Clippers for $2 billion in 2014. Ballmer and the Clippers worked with tech company Second Spectrum to launch the CourtVision experience four years ago, with stats, animations and other graphics overlayed on screen in near real-time.

One advantage of the new direct-to-consumer streaming service, Ballmer said, will be the ability to add new capabilities in the future. He cited the hypothetical example of gamifying the experience as something that would be harder in a distribution scenario.

At the same time, the Clippers are still investing heavily in the future of in-person viewing. The team’s new 18,000-person arena, the Intuit Dome, is set to launch for the 2024-25 season in Inglewood, Calif.

In the long run, Ballmer said ClipperVision could become a meaningful source of income for the team, but the bigger priority for now is to control its own destiny in the distribution of content.

Cord-Cutting Continues, and the Metaverse expands

Ballmer is leaning into a broader trend in the way sports fans consume entertainment on small screens. In July 2022, opinion analytics platform Civic Science reported “that of the people who use a sports streaming service, 73% have cut the cord on cable or satellite television.” Watching sports is one big reason behind cord-cutting, according to Civic Science, but many viewers still prefer other streaming services over satellite and cable services, even if they have no interest in sports.

Meanwhile, teams in other sports are striking out with their own singular digital enterprises. The Los Angeles Kings dove headfirst into the metaverse in early 2022 with immersive, VR-friendly video packages, and the St. Louis Blues launched a metaverse shopping experience. In June this year, Los Angeles Lakers icon Earvin Magic Johnson invested in SimWin Sports—an NFT-backed digital sports league made up of virtual teams and athletes playing simulated games. The league hasn’t launched yet but continues to acquire capital and celebrity team owners like Backstreet Boy Nick Carter.

Even though consumers keep cord-cutting in favor of streaming, a recent Nielsen survey indicated 46% of viewers sometimes find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of available entertainment choices. So—if the Clippers are at the leading edge of a trend that will see more organizations creating dedicated pro team streaming channels as well as establishing metaverse presences, there’s a danger of it all becoming too much of a good thing.

This article first appeared on GeekWire. Steve Huff contributed additional material for publication on dot.LA.

🏰 Disney's Epic Investment Stands Out Amidst Gaming Industry Layoffs

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

🔦 Spotlight

In the midst of widespread gaming industry layoffs, a glimmer of positive news emerges as Disney announces a significant move: a $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games. 🏰💰🐭

Image Source: Disney

Disney's $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games, disclosed late Wednesday, signals a strategic alignment aimed at expanding the success of "Fortnite." The deal enhances Epic's growth prospects after financial setbacks, including layoffs, and strengthens the partnership between the two companies. With Disney gaining a larger equity stake in Epic, the collaboration will broaden the integration of beloved Disney franchises like Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Avatar into the game, potentially boosting its appeal and longevity. This significant investment underscores Disney's commitment to interactive entertainment and signifies a shift towards games as a primary revenue stream, aligning with the growing trend of digital engagement among younger demographics. Moreover, the potential for crossover sales of physical Disney products within "Fortnite" and the exploration of new content distribution channels are just some of the opportunities arising from this partnership.

For LA tech, the Disney-Epic Games partnership represents a validation of the region's burgeoning tech and gaming ecosystem. The substantial investment in Epic, who maintains a large Los Angeles office with 1,000+ employees (according to LinkedIn), reflects confidence in the LA’s talent pool and innovation potential. Additionally, this partnership between two industry giants fosters an environment for further collaboration, investment, and growth within LA's tech sector. As Disney and Epic Games deepen their ties and explore new avenues for content integration and distribution, it not only elevates the prominence of LA as a tech hub but also stimulates economic growth and job creation in the region. This partnership highlights LA's unique position as a hub where technology and entertainment converge. With its ability to integrate diverse industries, LA is driving innovation and expansion in digital entertainment. 🚀💸🎮

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • ProducePay, a financing and marketplace platform for the fresh produce market, raised a $38M Series D led by Syngenta Group Ventures joined by Commonfund, Highgate Private Equity, G2 Venture Partners, Anterra Capital, Astanor Ventures, Endeavor8, Avenue Venture Opportunities, Avenue Sustainable Solutions, and Red Bear Angels. - learn more
  • Blush, an invite-only dating app that drives users to local businesses on dates, raised a $7M Seed Round from individuals like Naval Ravikant. - learn more
  • Mogul, a startup founded last year that provides an overview of an artist's royalty earnings and identifies areas where money is owed but has not yet been collected, raised a $1.9 million seed round from Wonder Ventures, United Talent Agency, AmplifyLA, and Creator Partners. - learn more
  • Avnos, a hybrid direct air capture startup, raised a $36M Series A led by NextEra Energy and joined by Safran Corporate Ventures, Shell Ventures, Envisioning Partners, and Rusheen Capital Management. - learn more
  • AI.fashion, startup whose mission is to help retailers enhance the online shopping experience by providing consumers with virtual try-ons and personalized fashion recommendations, raised a $3.6M Seed Round led by Neo. - learn more
  • Suma Wealth, startup that aims to demystify financial topics and provide culturally relevant content, virtual experiences, and resources to help Latino users navigate financial challenges and opportunities, raised a $2.2M Seed Round . Radicle Impact led, and was joined by Vamos Ventures, OVO fund and the American Heart Association Impact Fund. - learn more
  • 222, a startup that helps users discover their city and meet new people through unique social experiences, raised a $2.5M Seed Round. Investors included 1517 Fund, General Catalyst, Best Nights VC, Scrum Ventures, and Upfront Ventures. - learn more
  • LimaCharlie, a security operations cloud platform, raised a $10.2M Series A led by Sands Capital. - learn more
  • Polycam, an app that uses a smartphone’s sensors to capture 3D scans of objects, raised an $18M Series A co-led by Left Lane Capital and Adjacent, and joined by Adobe Ventures and individuals like Chad Hurley and Shaun Maguire. -learn more.

LA Venture Funds

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a startup building software to decarbonize logistics for logistics businesses and goods business through a vetted marketplace and optimization software. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $1.5M Pre Seed Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

Venture Waves, Climate Tech Wins, and Silicon Beach's Ongoing Evolution

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Anduril Seeks $1.5B in VC Funds

Defense company Anduril Industries Inc., based in Costa Mesa and founded by Palmer Luckey, is seeking to raise $1.5 billion in fresh funds to boost its valuation to $12.5 billion or more, according to sources quoted by The Information. This fundraising effort, if successful, would mark one of the largest venture capital rounds of the year.

Image Source: Anduril

Anduril recently secured a contract to develop and test small unmanned fighter jet prototypes under the Air Force’s Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) program, beating out major defense companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. Alongside General Atomics, Anduril will design, manufacture, and test these aircraft, with a final multibillion-dollar production decision expected in fiscal year 2026. This program aims to deliver at least 1,000 combat aircraft to fly in concert with manned platforms and is part of the Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance initiative. Central to Anduril’s success in this contract is the Fury autonomous air vehicle, acquired through the purchase of Blue Force Technologies. This victory underscores Anduril's rapid advancement in the defense sector, aligning with Luckey's vision of building faster and more cost-effective defense assets. - learn more

Los Angeles Ranks Number 1 in Emerging Climate Tech Hub

The 2024 Emerging Climate Tech Hubs Report by Revolution highlights Los Angeles as a burgeoning center for climate tech innovation. LA's growth in this sector is driven by its diverse talent pool, strong research institutions, and a culture of environmental consciousness. The city's unique mix of legacy industries, such as entertainment and aerospace, alongside emerging tech companies, positions it as a pivotal player in the climate tech landscape. This shift reflects a broader trend of decentralized climate tech funding across the U.S., reducing the historical dominance of California's traditional hubs. - learn more

Silicon Beach: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Assessing the overall health of the startup market is challenging, especially as venture capital funding has decreased by an average of 61% from 2021 to 2023 across the top VC markets in the US. Markets with robust ecosystems in AI, SaaS, Biotech, Healthtech, and Fintech appear to be weathering the downturn better than those focused on Consumer and Gaming industries, areas where Los Angeles traditionally excels.

Percent Change In VC Funding By Region

CB Insights

LA Times paints a rather bleak outlook on the Los Angeles tech scene noting venture capital funding in Greater Los Angeles plummeted 73% from 2021 to 2022. Silicon Beach, once a vibrant tech corridor, currently faces high vacancy rates and lacks late-stage financiers, especially in the AI sector. However, there are positive signs, including growth in aerospace startups and increased venture capital investment in early 2024, suggesting a potential rebound for LA's tech ecosystem.

While LA may not be exceeding expectations during this period, its tech ecosystem warrants a nuanced evaluation, given the broader market dynamics and its strong performance in specific sectors. Reach out to us with your thoughts.

🚀 SpaceX gears up for another stellar year, active raises, and more

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Happy Friday Los Angeles! You made it through the first week of 2024!

🔦 Spotlight

Elon Musk may be a divisive (albeit entertaining) figure, but the continued success of SpaceX is pivotal for the aerospace industry in Los Angeles and more broadly around the world.

Image Source: SpaceX webcast

What happened with SpaceX in 2023?

  • Elon Musk challenged Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg to a cage fight.
  • SpaceX launched 96 successful missions with its Falcon series of rockets, a 57% increase over its previous annual record.
  • SpaceX conducted two test flights of the largest and most powerful rocket ever built, Starship.
  • Roughly two-thirds of SpaceX's launches in 2023 were devoted to building out Starlink, the company's satellite-internet megaconstellation.
  • Isaacson’s Elon Musk biography was published in September including everything from Musk’s tumultuous relationship with his father to his work ethic and “demon mode”.

Moving forward what can we expect from SpaceX and its controversial founder? Continued innovation pushing the aerospace industry to new limits? Yes. More drama? Without a doubt.

Here is some of what is to come in 2024:

🤝 Venture Deals

Just Announced

Check back next week!

LA Exits

  • CG Oncology, an Irvine, CA-based developer of immunotherapies for bladder cancer, filed for a $100M IPO. It plans to list on the Nasdaq (CGON) with Morgan Stanley as left lead underwriter, and has raised around $317m in VC funding. - learn more
  • McNally Capital agreed to sell Advanced Micro Instruments, a Costa Mesa, CA-based maker of gas analyzers and sensing technologies, to Enpro (NYSE: NPO). - learn more

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a hard-tech startup that is developing a technology for decarbonizing natural gas, is raising a $1.5M Seed Round. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $250K Angel Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

📅 LA Tech Calendar

Sunday, January 7th

Wednesday, January 10th

  • Startup Cafe: Networking with a Kick - Entrepreneurs, Startups, and Tech Enthusiasts join together to meet and connect with like-minded people, industry professionals and investors, while enjoying a nice cup of coffee in Venice at The KINN. This week’s interactive discussion about AI’s evolution in entertainment will feature Dr. Sam Khoze and Rachel Joy Victor.
  • Venice Tech Happy Hour- Join Startup Coil and FoundrHaus Wednesday evening and enjoy the sunset from the rooftop, grab a bite overlooking Abbot Kinney, and mingle with other tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs by the bar on the patio.

Have an awesome event coming up? Reach out to be featured on next week’s Newsletter!

📙 What We’re Reading

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