Turner Hives Off Its Online Sports Service Provider PlayOn; New Company Gets $3M Funding


Update: The funding amount for 2080 is $3 million.

Turner, part of Time Warner (NYSE: TWX), which has surprisingly been scaling back some of its original online efforts, has now sold off its online sports site services provider PlayOn Sports to a new Atlanta-based company called 2080 Media. The company is focused on production and distribution of broadband content, and former Turner Broadcasting System exec David Rudolph, who launched Turner South, is the CEO. PlayOn Sports will continue operating under its current name. PlayOn Sports will now focus on collegiate and high-school sports markets, providing tech for live and on-demand webcasts. It will compete against the likes of XOS Technologies (now part of JumpTV) and many others in this space.

As part of this transaction, Turner now owns an equity stake in the new company. Also, 2080 has raised its first round of funding led by Imlay Investments and included Buckhead Investment Partners and Noro-Moseley Partners. More details in release.

Turner recently did a similar deal to sell off its Gametap unit to Paris-based games distributor Metaboli, and retained a stake in the company.

Staci adds: Turner is backing out of the subscription-based programming it once bragged about developing. A spokesman explains that the Time Warner subsidiary’s focus is on ad-supported digital businesses “given how challenging subscription models are on the web.” As for ad sales, “our focus is on premium branded sites like CNN, and on the sports side, NBA, NASCAR, etc. PlayOn, as innovative as it was, was ultimately outside this core focus. We retain an equity stake in 2080 (as well as the option to sell their ads) so as will continue to participate in the upside of PlayOn.” In this case, Turner sold to someone it knows well with a proven record and won’t carry the costs of scaling PlayOn. It strikes an odd note in one respect: other media companies are looking for ways to develop non-paid revenue streams, while Turner, which already has a record with subscriptions as a cable programmer, hasn’t been able to translate that successfully to online.

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