Inside Track

SportsTech Monthly Roundup #9: Looking Back on 2020

Raise your hand if you’re excited for this year to come to an end.

Yeah, us too.

But, let’s focus on some of the good things that happened this year.

While there are a lot of people that will be glad when this year is over, we can honestly say that looking back, despite all the craziness, we’ve learned a LOT about the world of sports and tech.

In this special edition of the Comcast SportsTech Newsletter, we want to look back and highlight some defining moments and incredible partner stories that were positive blips on an otherwise tumultuous, unpredictable, and wild year.

Also, before we dive in, we want to remind you to watch our last webinar of 2020. It’s a good one.

Back on Track: How NASCAR Shifted from iRacing to Live Racing

👉 Watch Here

NASCAR racers are back behind the non-simulated wheel as iRacing shifts back to live racing, but what does this mean for the sport and its fans? As professional racers get back to their positions on the track, we take a look at the dramatic changes that the sport of NASCAR has undergone, how fans consume NASCAR, and how the racers compete.

Meet the Panelists:

  • Tyler Reddick, Professional NASCAR Driver
  • Christine Stoffel-Moffett, Vice President, Enterprise Technology NASCAR

Top Sports Tech Stories of 2020

Here’s a look back at five of our favorite stories, events, and happenings from the past year that was sports + tech:

🚀 Comcast Launches SportsTech Accelerator

Well, we did it. Without a doubt, what we created and rolled out this year with our accelerator, reviewing a thousand applicants and narrowing it down to the first incredibly exciting and promising cohort of finalists. If you’ve been following us since the beginning, you were there for our first announcement, the introduction of our incredible partners, and hopefully, you were able to submit your application and idea to our first cohort. Long before the pandemic, our goal was to create an innovative and creative system to tap into and advance the innovative and business landscape of sports in ways that boosts the competitive aspects of teams and players. Win-win, right?

Partner Success Story 🏁 NASCAR Returns to the Track

The pandemic did a good job shutting down the world of sports, but the first one that came racing back was our partner, NASCAR. And, their success was hardly understated. The telecast of the Darlington race — and the sports’ return to live racing, delivered 6.32 million viewers, a jump of over 38 percent since the last time NASCAR held a race back in March. There was stiff competition for racing, as NBC featured a TaylorMade Driving event that saw a handful of golf’s bigger stars take part in a four-man skins match. Before the return to live racing, NASCAR saw a massive spike in viewership and engagement with its virtual competition while no other sports were competing.

👉 Speaking of racing, be sure to check out NASCAR webinar where you can learn the ins, outs, and all the left turns to how they got back to racing safely. The webinar, The Way Back: Emerging Paradigms As NASCAR Returns Live (and Online) is available to watch here.

⛳️ PGA Golf Gets Back On Course

It sure was something seeing a Masters in the fall. Sure, the fall colors were nothing compared to the spring blooms and sprouting azaleas, but it’s a major accomplishment that the PGA Tour got in all of their American majors in, just in a scrambled and wildly different order. In order to come back, the PGA rolled out testing protocols and even coordinated special charter flights to ensure players got to tournaments safely.

NBC Launches Peacock 

When Peacock was set to launch, it was hoping that the Summer Olympics would be a major attraction. Yet, despite that, the streaming service still hit and surpassed all the major engagement metrics, including 22 million sign-ups, joining the streaming arms race with the likes of digital media powerhouses. What sets Peacock apart from the others is they’ve built a hybrid model that blends ad-supported and paid subscriptions. While any of us can stream Peacock’s basic package for free and another massive chunk of cable and broadband subscribers will get access to the streaming service with no additional costs, Peacock can engage sports fans for the Olympics, which has been pushed to next summer in addition to streaming World Cup and Olympic Winter qualifying sports events through the winter.

Comcast + USA Cycling, Climbing Onward 

The sport of cycling has a rich history and tradition in this country. With roots back to the 1920s, the sport has embraced forward-thinking innovation and technology across its array of disciplines including road, track, mountain bike, and BMX. As cycling looks forward to global competition and developing the next generation of Olympic athletes, we’re proud to have announced our partnership with USA Cycling and look forward to connecting Team USA with the creative and innovative minds looking to keep the sport climbing above the rest.

Sports Tackle Racial Injustice | Comcast Donates to Cause

Aside from the pandemic, the world started talking about racial injustice. The Milwaukee Bucks sat out a playoff game after racial unrest south of their city in Kenosha, which continued the dialogue for athletes across the professional and collegiate sports landscape. Andre Iguodala was one of the key voices to the Bucks as the first vice-president of the NBA players’ union. “Obviously, it was a tough decision for the Bucks, and I think we all tried to think it through. There was a lot going on and a lot of emotions, and so you saw the other teams follow suit right afterward. We were showing our support—not just to the Bucks but to the whole league,” Iguodala recalled in a conversation with The New Yorker. One of the things that makes sports so profoundly connective is that it is a microcosm of the stories that make up who we are. Sports is the middle-ground where we can all exist and cheer together, and many of these important conversations about race, inclusion, and culture were put under the lights of pro sports and discussed at a high-level by the game’s brightest stars. In June, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts announced $100 million would be devoted over three years to combat racism and injustice. The money will lead efforts to “fight injustice and inequality against any race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation or ability,” Roberts wrote in a letter to employees.

😎 Looking Forward to 2021

Next year, we hope to continue our storytelling efforts and bring you the best and most important sports tech stories. We’ll have some exciting updates for this accelerator program as well as many new updates about who will be joining us in Atlanta. If this has been exciting to you and you’re considering applying to future opportunities, please keep us in mind and let us know how we can help you make your sports idea come to life!

⭐️ Until Next Year…

From all of us at Sports Tech, we want to wish you and yours a most wonderful, safe, and happy holiday season and New Year. We’ll be back in your inbox next year in January with all sorts of updates on the convergence of sports + tech, updates on our accelerator, and some other exciting news and updates.

Until then,

— The SportsTech Team

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