When Jon Patricof and Jonathan Soros devised their new venture it was with a view to disrupting professional team sports. Their aim was to succeed where similar projects have stalled in turning a sport’s growing popularity at the youth and college levels into a profitable pro model.
Starting with women’s fastpitch softball in August 2020, their company, Athletes Unlimited, launched an innovative model that upends the traditional ownership in team sports. It eliminates team owners, general managers and the traditional fixed-team format and gives all the power to the athletes. Investors in the company are capped in their financial return so that the athletes will earn more of the profits as the league succeeds, and athletes will participate in company governance and key decision making.
The competition format is given a fresh twist too. Professional athletes compete in a version of their sports, sharing a single match location and scoring points to move up and down leader boards with the ultimate aim of being crowned Athletes Unlimited Champion. Via a tiered membership program sports fans are able to enjoy live games, a broad library of great content and track the performance of their favourite players.
Co-founders Patricof and Soros have significant experience in their field, with Patricof spending several years as President of Major League Soccer’s New York City Football Club.
Next-gen sports network
Barely one year on and the New York-based outfit is already running three leagues. Athletes Unlimited Softball returned for its second season, Athletes Unlimited Volleyball was inaugurated earlier this year in Texas and Lacrosse is the third league to be created under the Athletes Unlimited banner. It has secured broadcast coverage on the CBS Sports Network.
In keeping with their disruptive ethos, Athletes Unlimited is growing fan engagement and media presence using Blackbird. The fast-growing network of sports leagues is deploying Blackbird for high performance, scalable cloud native video editing of its sports content.
Using browser-based Blackbird, the media operations team have instant access to live and file-based content for the rapid editing, enriching and publishing of content to the Athletes Unlimited website, social channels and broadcast partners such as CBS Sports for fans to enjoy.
“We are thrilled to engage Blackbird and their suite of world class editing and video collaboration tools that will enhance our digital storytelling during our softball, volleyball and lacrosse leagues.”
Jon Patricof, CEO and Co-Founder, Athletes Unlimited
Streamlined costs from Day 1
Blackbird also enables remote production, eliminating the need to travel to a facility or event and also removes the need to transit material back and forth from multiple local storage environments. Blackbird is deployed within Athletes Unlimited’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure.
They have clearly struck on a winning formula and there is no sign of the scoring slowing down. New men’s and women’s leagues moulded with the unique athletes-first approach are in the works. Blackbird will be with them every step of the way to scale the business to new heights.
Blackbird is best-of-breed
Jon Hanford - Group CTO, Deltatre