Soccer is the world’s most-watched game and is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries.
Given the sport’s popularity, it’s not surprising that many mobile developers have hedged their bets on creating an app for soccer hooligans around the world. In Thailand, there’s Champion, a live score app for soccer fans who want to stay updated with their favorite teams and players. Its goal is to break down the relevant statistics in all live matches – number of successful passes, saves, tackles, shots, etc. – to give fans unique insight into players’ performances. The app aims to answer questions like “is a player under performing?”, “what team is dominating right now?”, and “who are the key players?” based on live data.
The live score app space is quite crowded. Well-known players such as Onesoccer, FTBPro, Squawka, and Livescore dominate the market. There are also branded apps (sport magazines, newspapers, etc) and club apps that provide fans with live score matches, stats, and news, although these typically only offer limited or local content. Other live score apps can be used for multiple sports, such as those developed by ESPN and EuroSport.
But the Champion team remains optimistic. Besides keeping track of scores, users can follow teams and players for analysis, using big data to enjoy the sport even more.
Soccer enthusiasts, veteran founders
Champion’s founders are not soccer newbies. Before developing the app, the team created Pumodo, an app for recreational players to track and share their matches and achievements. Pumodo also won the 2012 Danish App Awards.
Co-founder Thomas Watson explains Champion was first conceptualized while working on Pumodo:
“The ability to track and record over 1,000 live events per match created incredible rich data that nobody was utilizing properly. Live score services still served fans with simple stat notifications in apps and on the web.”
Champion is backed by three Danish business angels – Ib Sønderby (seasonal angel with IPO and big exit experiences), Henrik Engel (director of a professional Danish soccer club), and Henrik Levring (CEO of the Philippines-based SplitMediaLabs.
Watson, who hails from Denmark, shared the logic behind setting up his company in Thailand.
We wanted to find an exciting place where it was cheap to live and work. We narrowed our choices down to the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand. We had never been to any of these countries so we asked around and most people recommended Thailand. So now we’re in Bangkok and love it. The startup scene is growing fast and people here are really friendly.
Serving a multi-billion dollar industry
Champion was created with the ambition to disrupt the multi-billion dollar soccer gambling market. The startup claims that today 70 percent of all sports bets are soccer-related. But Champion wants to serve an even larger audience, not just sports fans.
Betting sites get 50 percent of their users from live score services. Why not keep our users and let them bet in our app instead of sending them away for a small affiliate cut while the betting companies take all the profit? Champion will be a superior live score service where users can make bets on matches against their friends and win prizes, much like Draftkings, which just raised US$24 million in venture capital.
Betting on the World Cup
The World Cup in Brazil this summer marks a great growth opportunity for Champion. The startup hopes to accumulate 250,000 users by the end of the that highly-anticipated event.
Watson believes there’s no current market leader in the live score app market right now.
“We believe within the next two to three years, [Champion] can become the dominant player with 50 to 100 million users. With two billion soccer fans worldwide, the possibilities are there.”