Global mobile usage fuels growth at sports content firm

THE explosion in global usage of mobile devices is fuelling international growth for sports and marketing business Independent Content Services (ICS).

Oceane ridden by Fergus Sweeney wins the Fine Equinity Stakes Yorkshire Ebor Festival at York Racecourse. Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

The Leeds-based firm, which provides sports content, translation and digital media services, is expanding its operations to cover 60 languages in 70 countries.

The business, which will turn over in excess of £7m this year, has grown significantly since its launch in 2002.

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It now employs over 50 staff at its headquarters, who work with a global network of over 250 sports freelancers.

ICS has developed a global team of reporters and broadcasters who cover everything from football and horse racing commentary to in-depth previews, analysis and reports on football, cricket, rugby and eSports.

Clients include major bookmakers, publishers, radio stations, mobile networks and international media.

Sister company ICS-digital provides digital marketing services to an international range of blue chip companies that are seeking to improve their online profile.

Founding director Ian Holding said one of key to its success has been the wealth of talent available in Leeds and the wider area, which has enabled the firm to recruit the staff needed to grow the businesses.

He added: “Leeds is the ideal place to grow a global digital business, particularly as the local universities give us a wealth of digital and multi-lingual talent.

“The city also has a critical mass of digital skills from developers to data analysts.

“We have big ambitions for this business and Leeds is the place to realise them.”

Guidance from business advisors Hentons has proven critical to accelerating growth, Mr Holding said.

The use of the government’s R&D tax credits scheme has boosted the amount ICS can invest in innovation, while Hentons also provides management accounts, payroll support, tax planning and business advice.

Mr Holding added: “Proactive support from professional advisors is key to managing cash flow and freeing up capital for investment.

“It has allowed us to continue to innovate and accelerate our growth plans.”

The company has invested in the latest audio and video studios along with new digital platforms at its Leeds headquarters over the last 12 months.

ICS also recently launched a new horse racing website to provide expert analysis to followers of racing from all over the world.

Mr Holding attributes much of its growth to the explosion in the global usage of mobile devices.

Four out of five UK adults now have a smartphone - equivalent to 37 million people - according to Deloitte’s sixth annual Mobile Consumer Survey in September 2016.

Industry data suggests that more than half the world’s population now uses a smartphone and over 50 per cent of the world’s web traffic comes from phones and tablets.

This has driven the demand for mobile-friendly content in a number of languages.

A new deal with Nigerian radio station Brila FM has created opportunities in Africa and driven demand for European football reporting, boosting the presence of ICS on the continent.

Mr Holding said: “The world has become more app based and content hungry as a result of the explosion in mobile usage, with people now consuming content around the clock.

“The market is always evolving, and we are investing to ensure we stay ahead of the curve.”