Sports-focused streaming platform Caffeine abruptly shuts down

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Caffeine, a streaming platform covering niche sports, gaming and entertainment properties, ceased operations on June 26, 2024. The company announced the decision on its website, citing the inability to achieve profitability as the primary reason for the shutdown.

“We’re at the point where we are still not quite profitable, so we’ve made the decision to end the service as of June 26 as we figure out our next steps. It has been a wild ride, with quite a few achievements along the way,” the announcement read.

Caffeine highlighted its growth to 61 million monthly users and 4 million daily users, as well as partnerships with 200 sports organizations across 17 categories.

Caffeine’s journey began in 2018 with significant backing from 21st Century Fox, which invested $100 million in September of that year. Fox’s chairman, Lachlan Murdoch, joined Caffeine’s board and the collaboration led to the formation of Caffeine Studios. By 2019, Caffeine had raised $146 million from investors, including Andreessen Horowitz and Greylock Partners.

The platform became a hub for live sports, particularly niche sports such as the World Surf League, Women’s National Football Conference and LIV Golf. Caffeine branded itself as “the home of live sports and community” and served as a streaming service for LIV Golf’s first-round coverage. LIV Golf praised Caffeine for attracting a younger, more diverse audience compared to traditional broadcast platforms. However, the partnership, which began at the start of 2024, lasted less than six months.

Despite its eventual closure, Caffeine explored various business models, including virtual gifting, subscriptions, pay-per-view and advertising.

The platform also formed distribution partnerships with traditional media publishers like Barstool Sports, Blue Wire, Bleav Network, Clutch Points and The Action Network.

Caffeine CEO Ben Keighran expressed optimism about the platform’s future as recently as last year. He discussed plans to expand content from niche and emerging sports leagues, partners and competitive events, as well as to increase advertising and distribution partnerships.

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The shutdown of Caffeine abruptly halts these expansion plans and leaves many smaller sports leagues without a streaming platform. The company’s closure underscores the challenges of sustaining a streaming service in a highly competitive market.

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