By Nancy Dahlberg
Amid the explosive global popularity of soccer, this Miami-based startup is playing to win.
Fz Sports, the sports media and technology startup led by CEO Matías Rivera, has raised $74 million in growth funding. The funding, which includes both debt and equity capital, was provided by Miami-based 777 Partners, MEP Capital, Torneos, Serengeti Asset Management, Magma Partners and others.
Two years ago, Rivera, who is also co-founder and CEO of soccer streaming startup Fanatiz, saw an opportunity to provide the global sports industry with a one-stop-shop for monetization, digital interactions and enjoyment of live and on-demand sports content and that became Fz Sports. Rivera co-founded Fz Sports alongside David Belmar and Raul Rivera, executives in the global media, technology, and sports business management industry.
Fz Sports platform includes three independent and complementary businesses: Fanatiz, the largest sports streaming platform for Hispanic audiences globally; 1190 Sports, a company dedicated to the management and marketing of sports rights around transmission, image, and distribution; and Nunchee, a company the provides technology and know-how for the creation and operation of streaming services, direct to consumers, with a focus on sports content.
“The $74 million of capital we announced this week will help us grow our existing projects, particularly around global development and distribution of Brazilian and Argentinian football, and also support our newest project, in which we purchased a 30% stake in the Peruvian football league and starting this year manage the full rights of the league. Peruvians are huge fans of football, managing the global rights of their league, including exclusive distribution within Peru, is an exciting challenge and an opportunity to really transform the league and how it’s consumed,” said Rivera in an email interview with Refresh Miami. The serial entrepreneur also helped launch Start-Up Chile and Reforestemos Foundation.
Fz Sports manages the international broadcasting rights for soccer leagues in Latin America, including the Brasileirão, Liga Argentina de Futbol and recently added Liga1 Peru. As part of these partnerships, the company provides its proprietary streaming platform and digital rights management services for direct-to-consumer distribution. In addition, Fz Sports is part of the consortium that manages the broadcasting, image and sponsorship rights of “La Roja” – the Chilean football teams – for the 2023-2026 period, as well as the sponsorships for the Peruvian national team, among other properties.
“Winning the Peru League project was transformational for our company – we now own, without time limit (other than certain buyout windows), a 30% stake of the Peruvian League rights globally, including within Peru, and we launched not only an exclusive streaming service for that content, Liga1 Play powered by Fanatiz, but also an exclusive sports network, Liga1 Max, for Pay TV distribution. Another exciting opportunity is that we’re working on the creation of the centralized Brazilian league, partnered with two investment funds: Serengeti Asset Management and Life Capital Partners. This is an opportunity of up to $1 billion for a 20% stake in the league,” Rivera said.
The Brazil league project is still in development but is a “transformational opportunity” for Fz Sports, massive in scale given Brazil’s huge role in global football, Rivera said. The company is also working on new partnerships with leagues and federations throughout the Americas.
The team is now 80 people, six of whom are in Miami, including Rivera. Through the startup’ Fanatiz streaming service, Fz Sports has paying subscribers in more than 100 countries. Through its 1190 Sports rights management business, the startup has distribution agreements with broadcasters and other distribution platforms throughout the world reaching more than 500 million households.
“We’re particularly proud at having grown our annual revenues by 60x from when 777 Partners led our Series A back in 2019,” Rivera said.
“We are thrilled to continue supporting this management team in the rapid expansion of their business, which has grown exponentially since we led Fanatiz’ Series A,” said Juan Arciniegas, the managing director and head of sports, media and entertainment at the Miami-based 777 Partners. “The new capital provided by 777 Partners will fuel the growth of Fz Sports, which is transforming how soccer is produced and consumed.”
This story was updated. Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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