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Twenty years Kozoom: passion and love for billiards

Posted by on November 5, 2018

Twenty years Kozoom: passion and love for billiards

©Kozoom
Kozoom CEO Xavier Carrer: We survived due to our love and passion for billiards

ANDERNOS -  Twenty years ago when Kozoom was founded, no one could think what this French sports company would mean for the billiard sport.  Even after ten years, not too many people knew of Kozoom in global billiards. In fact, the first steps from the idea to productive implementation and the important business success have not been easy. Xavier Carrer survived the first years in his own words because of his passion for sport. Today, Kozoom is indispensable and known everywhere in billiards, although the sport still has a long way to go.

But the developments are hopeful, the future looks sunny. This year, more than ever before, three cushion in the world has taken a big step towards a professional sport. That not only means that the athletes get a professional status but also gives the players more opportunities to gain more money. Twenty, thirty years ago, maybe five players could consider themselves professionals. Today, in 2018, there are both more and better opportunities, due to the developments that have given impetus to the three-cushion sport.

Markus Schönhoff had an interview for Kozoom Germany with the founder and CEO of Kozoom, Xavier Carrer. The housefather, constantly traveling around the world, took time to talk about the very beginning, the problems and the first successes. He doesn't deny that the step to the definitive breakthrough is far from being made. Three cushion is a jewel, but the situation is still fragile, says Xavier Carrer. He realizes it and is grateful that South Korea currently is the most important market for billiard sports. Whoever knows him, however, will know that Carrer will make the greatest efforts to achieve a global upswing. The Ceulemans Cup, the battle between Europe and Asia in France in December 2018, is the next mission and his most important project to date.

Kozoom/Markus Schönhoff: Let's first talk about the anniversary, twenty years of Kozoom. Can you tell us about your motivation to start the Kozoom project?
Xavier Carrer: When I was 25, I met a player in my billiards club, Jaen-Michel Fray. He invited me to take a look at a 2D carom simulator that he developed on his personal computer. When I saw that, I realized that this simulator was very realistic and within a minute the idea to create a company came to mind to produce a simulation game, based on this simulator. A few weeks later, the company Kozoom Multimedia was founded in Toulouse, a famous city in the southwest of France. The first Kozoom office was in my room, in an apartment I was sharing with another student. After one year and some debts, the PC game Canal+ Classic Billiard was launched. I had many issues with our French editor Canal+ Multimedia and after a long lawyer-battle, I finally received money. I have reinvested into the creation of the website Kozoom.com. At that time there was a new start-up investing in internet business every day. Kozoom was one of them.

Kozoom/MS: Did you already think about live streaming of billiards tournaments that years?
Xavier Carrer: The streaming came later. I think our first live streaming had been made during a pool event in 2006. Before that, we edited a DVD catalog. We produced the 9-Ball Eurotour for Eurosport. One of our first big projects in three cushion was in Sluiskil, the World Cups starting in 2006 there and the later World Championship. The first live streaming in classic carom billiard was the world championship one cushion in Allicante, April 2007.

Kozoom/MS: If we go to the last ten years, can you tell us about the main problems and the main successes?
Xavier Carrer: Well, 20 years, it's a long story. We enjoy every success and still are facing problems. Kozoom was not profitable during the early years. We stayed alive only because of our passion for the sport, the positive feedback from the billiard community and the precious support of Bernard Baudoin, a good French player, who has been a real business angel for Kozoom. He continues to help us very much with Kozoom projects.

Kozoom/MS: Now, Kozoom is the most important company in carom sports. What are the next steps? Are there new ideas?
Xavier Carrer: Kozoom, of course, is not 'the most important company'. But we are the only ones who invested so much to promote our sport. Kozoom took its part in the development of three cushion. Still a lot to do... The way to make it a major professional sport will be quite long.

Kozoom/MS: Looking at this year, 2018, a very important year for all of us. How do you look at the first ten months of this year?
Xavier Carrer: I will be satisfied when you will see important sponsors from outside the billiards industry on every international 3-cushion event. For now, the situation is still fragile. The media rights increased a lot the past few years in Korea because of the good tv-ratings. But we need to see more sponsors like LG U+ supporting the sport. The media exposure should not only be focused on the Korean Market and or Kozoom's streaming platform. We need to expand the distribution of video content worldwide. And we're actively working on it.

Kozoom/MS: To find major sponsors is a tough fight in every sport. What can make our sport more attractive for sponsors? A new tournament format?
Xavier Carrer: I think the classic 40-point system, as it is used in the World Cups and the World Championship, is a good one. Playing to 50 points without equalizing inning could be an option for the final phase at a World championship. That would make the event even more special. This year, we created more games and formats, because of the request of our main Korean broadcaster. The tv channel MBC Sports will broadcast again over 1000 hours of classic three-cushion matches this year. They wanted to offer something new. It was never planned to reinvent three-cushion but to explore new ways to enjoy the game. I believe three cushion is very exiting, the most fascinating cue sport game in my opinion. It's a pure jewel. We just have to improve the packaging to make it more exciting, not the game itself.

Kozoom/MS: Is it too early to think about your own special TV channel such as Sky or Eurosport?
Xavier Carrer: We are working on a new project to migrate our video service on a new OTT platform (similar to Sky go, Netflix, Eurosport Player). The plan is to offer better quality on all devices: desktop PC, tablet, mobiles and tv's with apple tv app or Samsung app. Beside it, we are discussing with Eurosport and the Olympic Chanel to extend the exposure of three-cushion.

Kozoom/MS: What does the end of this year look like for Kozoom, the next tournaments?
Xavier Carrer: The next event, this week, is a Survival Masters, not a three cushion challenge. That means, matches with four players as we played in September. The tournament will take place in the stadium of Guri, the place where several World Cups have been held.  It will be played with an audience. We made that decision because the first Survival Masters on Korean TV was a great success. For the first time, TV ratings in the last two days was about the same as baseball, the most famous sport in Korea. That sounds like viewers are not afraid for innovastion. But in in France, I am personally busier preparing the first edition of the Ceulemans Cup in December. I've had this project of challenge Asia-European in mind for almost ten years and I'm pretty excited to see how it will look.

Kozoom/MS: Can you give details about the location and the tournament format for the Ceulemans Cup?
Xavier Carrer: Certainly. Two teams of eight players meet each other. The best players from two continents according to the UMB ranking 2017. It is a match over 600 points in three days, played on a Gabriels table. Gabriels has helped us a lot to organize the event. They clearly share our ambition and passion for the sport. The competition will take place from December i14-16 in the Salle du Vigean, in the city of Eysines. That is near Bordeaux about 5 minutes drive from the airport. We can accommodate around 450 spectators. If we do our job well, everything will be sold out and it will be a great show.

Kozoom/MS: Are there plans for 3CC Masters in Europe next year?
Xavier Carrer: It is too early to announce that. We are working on many different options and for sure, all our events should not take place in Korea.

Kozoom/MS: Thanks for the interview, Mr. Carrer. Good luck with the preparation of the Ceulemans Cup and the other projects.
Xavier Carrer: Thank you very much to all the loyal Kozoom members. We work hard to always deliver a perfect product, but sometimes it is not that easy. Thank you for the loyalty and love for our sport.

 

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My Comments

inception
inception
No VOD Videos of McCreery NY
I appreciate what Kozoom has done for struggling carom billiard so far.
But I do not understand why the videos of all the games at McCreery's NY event last August are not released by Kozoom VOD yet.

I heard UMB and Kozoom has the media right for all UMB events.
I also heard UMB/Kozoom and Korea Billiard Federation are still in conflict because of the UMB media right things.

It could have been a gala event for the participated players and organizer, but carom fans are completely ignored. Even no gallery stand at some UMB/Kozoom event venues recently is terribly disappointing.
After 20 years, UMB/Kozoom business is more important than the true billiard fans, right?

Message 1/1 - Publish at November 10, 2018 4:06 PM

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