Inside Track

SportsTech Monthly Roundup # 12: Meet Five of the Startups Changing the Sports World, For Good

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SportsTech Community,

A few weeks ago, we did something we’ve been working on every minute since the beginning of last year — we launched our 2021 Comcast NBCUniversal SportsTech Accelerator.

 

The kick-off announcement received some positive press and mentions in the national media. You can check out some of the highlights from Cheddar, Forbes, and VentureBeat here.

 

👉 Here’s the full run-down of all the great media highlights on Inside Track.

 

We couldn’t be more excited to welcome these ten startups and their founders to our accelerator. All of them are working on solving some of the biggest challenges in sports and are creating unique and innovative solutions that can help change the way athletes, teams, and players play their games.

After our founders go through our rigorous 12-week program, you’ll have the chance to see what they’ve built. Sign up now for Demo Day on May 26th, and expect some big updates in the coming weeks!

✨ Startup Spotlight: Meet The Teams

We’d like to introduce you to five of the teams participating in our inaugural cohort. Each of these startups has an incredible origin story, bright founders, and they’re all tackling much-needed solutions in our space. Here they are:

  • 🎟 Dibz—We all want to get closer to the sports action, and Dibz is working with event venues to allow fans a chance to upgrade their seats to a venue’s unsold seats through a text messaging solution.
  • 📹 Eon Media—Building a next-gen video streaming platform with personalization and advanced AI and machine learning capabilities that will save broadcasters 60-70%.
  • 📡 Global M—Providing streaming solutions with broadcast quality to broadcasters and media outlets with advanced secure streaming networks built to meet the highest standards for quality and delivery via the internet.
  • 🏟 nVenue—nVenue is taking a more fan-centric approach to using stats and metrics to change the way they watch the game. With its roots as a technology company, nVenue is leveraging the power of sporting moments to build its product.
  • 🏃Safety Skin—Founded with a truly genuine origin story, Safety Skin is developing reflective skin and body products that make athletes more visible on the road.

👉 Take a deeper look at all five of these startups and review their stories in our Startup Spotlight article on Inside Track. Also, be sure to keep an eye on your inbox for the intro to the remaining five teams next month.

What’s Up in SportsTech

NASCAR + Comcast NBCUniversal in Bid to Streamline Logistics | Via: Forbes

 

As part of the NextGen, NASCAR recently teamed up with Comcast NBCUniversal for the first-ever SportsTech Accelerator, powered by Boomtown Accelerators.

 

Comcast NBCUniversal, a longtime NASCAR partner, introduced the sanctioning body to a startup that can streamline at-track logistics in a brand new way. XiQ, a Georgia-based startup, is starting to work with NASCAR to protect golf carts from being stolen at racetracks across the country.

 

“It was obvious to work with NASCAR because they’re on the cutting edge of truly leading in innovation,” Jenna Kurath, Comcast NBCUniversal Vice President of Startup Partner Development and Head of SportsTech, said. “2020 was a great example of being one of the first to come back safely in sports, pivoting to iRacing in the meantime and bringing on new fans. If you look at us as a company, our connection to sports runs deep. This is a unique way for us to stay in the forefront of shaping the future of sports.”

NASCAR will be using XiQ to replace the conventional key ignition on golf carts that the sanctioning body uses at tracks. XiQ’s technology can control golf carts via a mobile application, enabling NASCAR to lock and unlock a vehicle when needed without having to worry about other issues that might arise.

 

How Streaming is Changing the Future of Sports | Via: Inside Track

Just as Netflix has changed the game by unleashing entire seasons of shows for us to binge-watch in an entire weekend, sports is one of the last vestiges of media that is made to consume live and in the moment. As sports reach their prospective playoffs and championships, this becomes even more important. Live fans and even casual ones tune in to see how things unfold and then join the conversation. Fans embrace this unique, dynamic flywheel effect of competition, athleticism, and fandom. If you’re like the modern fan who embraces tech while watching, you’re likely tuning into the game on the home TV and following along news, updates, and stats on your mobile device by checking into threads on Facebook and Twitter.

People Spent $230 Million Buying & Trading Digital NBA Highlights | Via: CNBC

If you had a spare $200,000 in your bank account, then you too can purchase a LeBron James or Zion Williamson highlight. How is that possible, you ask? It’s part of the hottest conversations happening off-court in sports—fans and collectors alike are buying digital collectibles in the form of NBA highlights.

 

The NBA partnered with Canadian-based Dapper Labs, the CryptoKitties game makers, to produce its version of a collectible digital asset. NBA Top Shot is a crypto-collectible consumers can purchase as a non-fungible token (NFT). Each collectible is tied to a blockchain—a digital ledger similar to the blockchains used for digital currencies like bitcoin. This effectively gives each NFT a unique and non-hackable certificate of authenticity. Even if somebody makes a perfect copy of the highlight video, it will instantly be recognized as a fake.

 

Caty Tedman, Head of Marketing and Team Partnerships at Dapper Labs, says that Top Shots has generated more than $230 million in sales so far, although most of this has come from traders exchanging the collectibles after their initial sale. Dapper earns revenue via fees captured from peer-to-peer transactions and unleashing new packs of NFTs.

 

“I think it’s fascinating,” said Tom Richardson, a digital media professor at Columbia University’s sports management program.

 

“It’s a nice evolution and good to see that people are still doing collectibles, even during this time,” added Lars Rensing, CEO of blockchain service provider Protokol. “It’s a new step to the future.”

 

Aiming for History: How Kate Ledecky is Preparing for Tokyo With Grueling Schedule | Via: NBC

As the Summer Olympics in Tokyo looms closer, athletes are getting ready with rigorous training regimens. Take superstar swimmer Katie Ledecky as an example. Already, she has tallied five Olympic gold medals and 15 World Championships, and she is aiming at a super ambitious schedule in Tokyo.

 

“I’m targeting the 200, 400, 800, and 1,500 freestyle and I’d love to be on the 4×200 relay in Tokyo as well, but that’s obviously not an event that we swim at trials,” she said Wednesday when asked what her plans were for the U.S. Olympic trials, scheduled for June. “Of course things could change. I swam the 100 in Omaha (the site of the trials) five years ago and got on that relay so you never know, I might adjust things ever so slightly, but 200 through the mile is the focus.”

 

Gatorade Develops Sweat Patch | Via: CNBC 

The sports drink market is overly saturated, but Gatorade’s newest product is raising some eyebrows in the sports world. They’ve introduced a patch—a one-time use wearable that analyzes sweat and produces insights about hydration. According to Gatorade, the patch should be worn on the inner left arm during a single workout. After the workout, an athlete can scan the patch with an app called Gx to get details about sweat level, sodium loss, body weight, and how intense the workout was.

 

Dallas Mavericks Tackle Blockchain | Via: Decrypt

The Mavs were not the first NBA team to accept Bitcoin—that would be the Sacramento Kings. But, Dallas certainly could be the first team to directly use blockchain technology to validate and verify tickets on the secondary market.

 

“We’re talking about it for ticketing,” Mark Cuban told Decrypt. “It completely changes the resale market, and if you tie it to an individual that has, let’s just say their social security number, and it’s been validated by multiple sources… then boom, you’re good to go, and the blockchain, depending on what you use, you can just put a little picture in there. And there’s your picture, and it’s immutable, and it’s there forever.”

 

There are some hurdles to get past before the team tries it, but one big appeal Cuban cites is the possibility for the franchise to get a cut on each ticket resale—and, the implication is, make things harder for ticket scalpers.

 

“We’re trying to figure it all out,” Cuban says. “The blockchain side is easy, it’s just like, going all the way up for the layers and making sure the application works, it’s safe, people are confident in it, and there’s a marketplace to exchange it. Because that allows us to keep on making money on every resale, something we don’t do now.”

 

Whoop Joins LPGA | Via: GOLF

Whoop has been named the official fitness wearable of the LPGA Tour. All golfers, caddies, and staff from the LPGA, Symetra, and Ladies European Tours will be given the Whoop Strap 3.0 and connected mobile app, which tracks metrics related to a wearer’s sleep, heart rate, and muscle strain, and recovery.

Whoop began collaborating with the LPGA Tour last summer as golfers wore Whoop to track their respiratory rate in an effort to detect early signs of COVID-19 infection. This extended partnership will see Whoop personnel attend tournaments throughout the 2021 LPGA season to help players and staff interpret their data and apply it to coaching.

 

Spurs Go Cashless | Via: NBA

When the fans are welcomed back to cheer on the Spurs from the AT&T Center in San Antonio, they’ll be able to make all their purchases directly from smartphones. This signals a multi-year deal between the Spurs and vendor Tappit, a mobile payment platform. Fans will have to link their e-payment methods to something called Spurs Pay, which will automatically generate a QR code each time they want to purchase food, beverages, and merchandise. Not to be outdone, they’ll deploy a fleet of robots to use ultraviolet light to clean commonly-touched surfaces in the stadium.

 

📸 Picture of the Month 

We all missed out on the joy and excitement of March Madness last year. Now, it’s aiming to rev back to life in a bubble-like environment in Indianapolis, Indiana. To commemorate this annual month-long event, the J.W. Marriott put up a building-size bracket, comprising 800 blocks spread across 47,000 square feet of glass. [Photo: Indy Star]

 

We’ll have all the best stories of sports + tech again next month. Until then, be sure to follow our accelerator program updates and partner stories on our website and blog, as well as on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

 

— The SportsTech Team

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