Not ‘fake news’: B.C. startup taps into sports publishers’ hunger for video

The term “fake news” has been tossed around a lot in the past year.

Originally a reference to manufactured stories shared on social media, it’s since been adopted by some politicians to attack legitimate news organizations.

Despite being in the media business and leading a company with the word “news” right in its name, SendtoNews CEO Matthew Watson isn’t anxious about getting hit with that label.

“With sports and with the type of publishers we have, we’ve gotten lucky there because it’s a brand-safe environment. It’s not ‘fake news’ — you’re on the L.A. Times and The Chicago Tribune,” Watson told Business In Vancouver.

“And it’s sports. People are very comfortable advertising there.”

SendtoNews has developed a video distribution platform for sports highlights acquired through licensing agreements with professional sports teams.

For readers of the Los Angeles Times or The Chicago Tribune, the video highlights embedded in online sports stories come courtesy of the Victoria-based company.

SendtoNews targets publishers who don’t have the technical know-how or individual licensing deals to showcase sports highlights on their own website.

So far, it’s paying off.

Its average four-year revenue growth rate is at 9,277.7%, according to the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 report released in November 2017.

“We’re at the right place at the right time. There’s a massive migration from traditional broadcast and print into digital,” he said.

“For us to be the platform for sports video in North America puts us in that spot with that huge tailwind with things that are coming our way in terms of viewers being there and advertising dollars as well.”

SendtoNews launched during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, landing a contract allowing non-accredited journalists to distribute video stories using its distribution platform.

By 2013 the company shifted to an ad-driven business model so that it offered both licensed content as well as the technology that allows publications to showcase sports videos on their websites.

SendtoNews is now looking to artificial intelligence for further changes.

Last fall the company unveiled the full release of an AI-powered tool that scans the text of articles and immediately matches the most relevant video content to be displayed in a video player on the website.

“When you’re dealing with resource-constrained publishers — and by that I mean, their editors and journalists — their traditional workflow is: write their article and then publish it,” Watson said.

“So it’s absolutely no change in workflow, no work from any of the journalists or the editors and it will embed a video in every article.”