Japan’s Ookami behind sports live app Player! raises seed round from Gree Ventures



See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Ookami, which is behind sports live app named Player!, today announced that it had fundraised an undisclosed amount from Gree Ventures in its seed round. This follows previous angel rounds totaling 30 million yen (about $275,000) from Dai Tamesue (Japanese athlete), Uzabase, Yusuke Umeda (CEO of Uzabase), Tomohito Ebine (founder of Internet ad agency Opt) and Toshiaki Komatsu (co-founder of Photocreate), in June 2014 and March 2015. This fund will be spent for enhancement of the development system.

Ookami started in April of 2014. A year later, in April of 2015, it had officially launched mobile app Player! for iOS. Although initially commenced as a sports news distribution platform, as repeating pivot, the app has evolved into a sport-focused social network platform distributing the progress or results of sports game live to enable users to share feelings with other audience users in real-time. In December 2015, the app won the title of App Store Best of 2015.

In sports games on Player!, a baseball game between the Yomiuri Giants and the Hiroshima Carp teams for example, users can choose which team to back. By watching the progress of the game, users can chat in the comment window and enjoy the game with the same team’s fans. Detailed information on the progress of sports game is gained through reproduction of photos or texts with content-usage permitted from more than 150 sports media including Soccer King (by From One) or Gekisaka (by Kodansha). As for live broadcasting, although the latest version of Player! supports that technically, the broadcasting fee for sports games is generally quite expensive. Therefore, the company plans to secure video content through tie-up with companies that hold broadcasting rights in the future.

CEO of Ookami Taiyo Ogata commented on the app:

Concerning monetization, I think it is rather easy to connect the app with the sports game ticket business. On the other hand, connection with Toto (Japanese state-run sport promotion lottery) may not be so easy. […]

The average stay time for the app exceeds 15 minutes per use due to the content characteristics, and that is the advantage which overwhelms other mobile apps.

So far, Ookami has launched apps only for iOS in order to focus on interface design of the apps. However, it aims to launch Player! for PC and Android by the Rio de Janeiro Olympic games in August.

In this field, Softbank (TSE:9434) and its subsidiary Yahoo Japan (TSE:4689) had started a service with mobile app named Sponavi-Live since this March, which enables the viewing of live sports game broadcasting in seven genres at 3,000 yen (about $28) or 500 yen (about $4.6) only for Softbank mobile users at a monthly charge.

Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy

CEO of Ookami Taiyo Ogata (second from right, in front row) and members of his firm