In a world where everyone seems to be developing or using mobile-phone apps, a company called ScoreTRAX is betting that there is a big business providing sports fans with scores and updates via the simplest of technologies: text messages.
Instead of streaming video or interactive 3D, the Raleigh, N.C.-based ScoreTRAX gives schools and teams a simple way to send scores, messages and other information to fans via text messages, otherwise known as SMS (for Short Message Service), which is available on just about every cell phone, including cheaper feature phones. According to founder Mark Janas, SMS is a perfect way to provide exposure to “a whole group of sports teams that are underserved,” including high school teams, youth leagues, small colleges and even minor-league operations.
Entering its second full year of operation, ScoreTRAX is looking to push past its initial-season base of 50,000 subscriptions with the goal of having an audience of 1 million ScoreTRAX subscribers. To get there, Janas and his company need to find schools or teams who are looking for a way to simply keep fans abreast of what’s going on in bursts of 160 characters or less — with plans that call for little or in some cases no up-front spending by the teams.
The business model for ScoreTRAX is as simple as a text: Teams or schools sign up for the ScoreTRAX service, which provides templates for inputting scores and for sending messages. ScoreTRAX can also be used to set up an online portal, and to send the scores and messages to Facebook and Twitter. Fans then sign up for the teams they want to follow, a process that can all be done with text messages.
ScoreTRAX makes money by inserting national advertisements into the message stream, and teams can become revenue partners by opting to sell ads themselves. The service is free if a team doesn’t want to sell ads itself; there is also a $50 a month option for a mix of national ads and team-sold ads, and a $100 per month option for no national ads and unlimited ads sold by the team.
And though it’s not sexy or 3D, SMS does work when it comes to engaging fans, Janas said. “People read their text messages,” he said.
Next: The power of SMS