Episode #457: Why The Score sold their television channel to focus on mobile – with CFO Tom Hearne

Episode #457

Ahh the media industry – along with retail it has become the whipping boy for the entire digital uprising. It has been labeled “dead” and “dormant” and “on decline” and “old” but it still holds an incredible amount of clout, cache and conversation. The thing is, not very many of these media outlets are willing or able to commit, I mean REALLY commit, to the sea change that is upon them – you know, the one that they refuse to look at with a fresh perspective.

There are a few times in history when change this paramount comes along and wipes the slate clean. It is at these times that the bold MAKE decisions and the weak have decisions made for them. This is one of those times. We will look back at this very moment and be able to trace the reason certain companies accelerated while others evaporated. The decisions being made today, while there is runway, while there are options, are bets of incredible courage – to step outside a comfort zone and to make decisions that may hurt in the short run but lead to great spoils down the road. This is what very few media companies are doing and The Score is one of them making these courageous choices.

I’ve talked with Tom Hearne on 2 other occasions (here and here) and both times have been impressed by his mobile-first mantra. The thing is, you can talk all you want (like you see television stations and radio stations and newspapers and magazines do) or you can execute on a plan that moves you forward. That’s exactly what Tom and his team did by selling off their sports television station (with an audience of roughly 7 million people), raising $16 million and focusing exclusively on growing their mobile-first company. There is no looking back. A little perspective on this move: Doing what The Score did would be like a national newspaper company selling their print offerings. Ballsy and not likely to happen.

This episode focuses on this transition and the incredibly thoughtful and logical reasons behind doing it. It must have been painful to give up the revenue that comes with television but after listening to Tom and his conviction about mobile you will wonder why the other outlets don’t see this. You will also wonder how long it will be before they start to lose the ability to make their own decisions…


Here is a quick reference of what we covered in the show. Click on the link and the video will take you to that clip

1. Update on the state of TheScore.com 2:22
2. The history of TheScore 4:00
3. Why sell the television channel? 8:00
4. Was TheScore always going to sell the television station? 9:40
5. Seeing the levelling of the television audience 12:00
6. How has this change shifted your business model? 15:40
7. What about the credibility factor of mobile? 17:10
8. Why was this the right time to shed the television station? 21:10
9. What’s the big story here for The Score? Shedding cost or going mobile first 22:40
10. Does the second screen concept actually add value to television or is it an unexplored opportunity for The Score? 25:45
11. Is the future of television + mobile live streaming on a device? 29:30
12. Are we witnessing the complete democratization of content? 31:45
13. What is your audience size goal? 33:25
14. The great disconnect between traditional publishing and the new era of advertising 36:25
15. How does The Score increase ARPU? 39:55
16. How has The Score built repeat usage for the apps 42:00
17. Will big brands dominate mobile as they do the web? 44:45
18. Why do you have to be better in mobile than anything else? 46:45
19. Was the television channel holding The Score back? 47:45
20. What impact will mobile have in the sports media business in the short term? 51:30

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About Tom Hearne
Tom Hearne The ScoreTom Hearne, Chief Financial Officer, brings more than 20 years of financial management and advisory experience to theScore, Inc.

Prior to joining the company, Mr. Hearne was Chief Financial Officer at Redline Communications Inc. where he successfully led the company to its initial public offering on both The AIM Market and The Toronto Stock Exchange. Mr. Hearne was also Chief Financial Officer for Delano Technology Corporation where he successfully led Delano to its initial public offering and listing on NASDAQ. Previous to that, Mr. Hearne held the role of Chief Financial Officer at Open Text Corporation, a public company trading on NASDAQ and the Toronto Stock Exchange, where he was responsible for financial management, acquisition planning and investor relations. Mr. Hearne has also held the roles of VP of Finance at Algorithmics Inc. and European Controller at Alias Research Inc.

He holds an M.B.A. from the Schulich School of Business at York University, a B.A. from Trent University and also earned the professional certification of Chartered Accountant.

In August 2012, Tom, as part of the Score Media Executive team, structured and executed the sale of Score Media’s television assets to Rogers Media and the spin-out of Score Media’s digital assets to Score Media’s shareholders in a new entity – theScore, Inc.

About the author

Rob Woodbridge

I'm Rob, the founder of UNTETHER.tv and I've spent 14 years immersed in the mobile and pervasive computing world. During this great time I've helped some of the most innovative companies grow their business through mobile. If you are in need of a mobile business advisor or coach, connect with me here to get things rolling.

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