Business Irish

Thursday 24 May 2018

Capital to score jobs as McCourt brothers invest €10m in football platform Dugout

Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid scores a spectacular goal against Juventus in the Champions League quarter-final. Photo: Getty Images
Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid scores a spectacular goal against Juventus in the Champions League quarter-final. Photo: Getty Images

Fearghal O'Connor - Deputy Business Editor

Enet boss David McCourt has invested close to €10m in the rapidly-growing British football content platform Dugout and is expected to centre much of the technical side of the business in Dublin.

The Irish American businessman - known for his disruptive investments in the telecoms industry - has joined forces in the investment with his US-based brother Frank McCourt, who is the owner of Olympique de Marseille football club and former owner of the LA Dodgers baseball franchise. The pair last week invested £8.3m (€9.4m) in the rapidly-growing digital football business, which is financially backed by Europe's elite football clubs who have collaborated on the investment.

In 2016 Arsenal, Chelsea and Barcelona joined together to form Dugout in a bid to create their own online media entity. The service claims to have 67 million unique users and many of the world's top clubs feed in behind-the-scenes content and documentaries to the platform, including content recorded by top players on their own phones, including Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool star Mo Salah.

As part of the deal, Dugout has entered into an exclusive partnership for its content with McCourt's Dublin-based ALTV - a YouTube-style streaming service aimed at the Middle East and North Africa. McCourt is understood to be looking at bringing even more of the technical operation to his Dublin office where at least 20 developers have been hired in recent weeks.

McCourt has centred a number of businesses there as part of a €100m total investment in Ireland in recent years. "The way content is consumed has changed dramatically in the last few years, and sports is the one thing that's still dominated by linear TV," said McCourt.

"What Dugout has figured out is how to totally rethink the model. Live will probably continue to be dominated by linear TV for a while but more than 50pc of the sports content consumed in the world is not live." Enet, in which McCourt has a 22pc stake, is the last remaining bidder for the State's huge National Broadband Plan tender.

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