Inside Track

SportsTech Monthly Roundup #10: The 2021 SportsTech Kickoff

Welcome to 2021! We know what a wild and unpredictable year 2020 was, but we’re hoping that things settle down quite a bit and allow us a chance to see some of the brilliant ideas in sports technology be put to use.

 

There are several significant sports events happening this year, including the (currently happening) Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Many of the stories and trends we’ll be keeping an eye out for shaping tech, and the Summer Games will also be critical for some of our participating athlete partners, including USA Swimming, USA Cycling, and Golf.

 

So, let’s take a swing at sharing some of the biggest stories we’ve been sharing around the office the last few weeks:

What’s Up in SportsTech

 

🏌Coming to PGA 2021: On-Demand Viewing | Golf.com

If you’ve embraced sports betting, you can bet on this: Live wagering on golf will change the way you follow your favorite pros. According to predictions from Golf.com, the big opportunity here will be in a torrent of customized content that you’re able to choose when, where, and what to watch. You’ve seen this screen-tested in last year’s pandemic Masters and at the 2020 Players with the ability to track players and see every shot if you wanted. The Masters operates a level few other tournaments can, but the theme here will be on the multi-billion dollar opportunity presented by live betting. Not just on players, but on outcomes. You’ll be seeing this ripple across the sports ecosystem in the years to come.

 

Additional predictions to think about:

  • Players are knocking the ball around the course at historic distances and speeds. This is fueled in part by how players are using enhanced training, optimized dieting, and better equipment. This year could be when the governing body uses the rule book as a tool to rein back a bit in the form of weight changes on the ball or restrictions on shafts of club heads.
  • Crowds…return safely? Last year, the Houston Open showed fans could be on the course without becoming a super-spreader event. You can bet that PGA officials took note and will work to implement some of those safety measures as a way to work fans back into galleries in 2021. Lessons applied here will surely be incorporated into other professional and collegiate sports, too.

💰Meet the First College Athlete to Make $ From her Likeness | CNBC

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) made history last October when they passed first-ever legislation allowing student-athletes to make money on their likeness, image, and name. In the future, we may likely look to Chloe V. Mitchell, a freshman volleyball player at Aquinas College, was the test case that showed the world how a collegiate athlete could earn new income.

 

Mitchell has 5,510 followers on YouTube, 48,600 followers on Instagram, and a whopping 2.7 million followers on TikTok — an audience she garnered practically by accident in April 2020 during her final year of high school.

 

Her first sponsorship deal? A $3,000 check helped buy a computer for college.

 

🌏 Olympics Preview | Inside Track

If you were watching the first-ever, mega weekend of NFL Wild Card football on NBC, chances are you spotted commercial spots previewing the upcoming Summer Olympics. In those thirty seconds, viewers re-lived some of the most incredible Olympic moments from the past and were reminded of the promise of their return.

This dream has been more than deferred, and the clock is now ticking loudly as organizers, broadcasters, athletes, and fans await the arrival of the opening ceremonies.

The costs of dealing with the pandemic delays have added close to $1 billion dollars to the costs of the Tokyo games. With less than 200 days left until the Olympics and a newly-imposed state of emergency in Japan, many questions remain about whether the games will go on. Olympic organizers have stated in the past that if the games were postponed, they’d likely not be rescheduled.

Perhaps, other than the World Cup, few events unite a global fanbase more than the Olympics. This particular version of the Summer Olympics could be an opportunity to celebrate our collective resilience while also allowing us to gather and celebrate safely for the first time in more than 18 months. It will depend on a number of factors, however.

 

👉 Check out our Olympics preview to read more!

 

🎧 Andre Talks Hoops + Business | Subscribed – Twitter

Andre Iguodala is not just one of the most recognizable NBA stars, he’s also one of the most inspiring leaders in the evolution of modern sports. He recently joined with Tien Tzuo, CEO of Zuora, to chat about the parallels between basketball and business.

 

🏒 NHL Sells Naming Rights to Divisions | Los Angeles Times

COVID-19 has forced fans out of the stadiums, and now, athletes are playing to (mostly) empty stadiums. For the NHL, that means luxury suites are empty and all the revenue from stadium experiences has evaporated. The NHL had to be creative in securing alternative income sources. In early January, they announced that they’ve given naming rights to the league’s four divisions. Look as other professional leagues continue to get creative in similar ways until the fans come back safely.

 

🇨🇦 Scoring BIG on Betting in Canada? | Bloomberg

One of the most popular sports apps in North America saw a spike in shares as Canada looks to legalize single-game sports betting. Founded as a digital sports media company — now one of the most popular sports apps in North America — theScore has integrated betting into its infrastructure. Its betting app, theScore Bet, is live in Colorado, Indiana and New Jersey. The company has a market value of $604 million, still significantly less than the likes of DraftKings and Penn National Gaming, which are currently worth $19 billion and $14 billion, respectively.

 

🚀 The Future of Sports In Blockchain? | Twitter

Blockchain is changing how people think about investing, finance, and tech — but it’s also having a moment in the world of professional sports. NBA Top Shot, the genesis of Dapper Labs, is at the forefront of two very hot blockchain trends including crypto assets and sports cards. Already, $5 million has been invested into NBA Top Shot, now the world’s largest sports blockchain product where fans can invest and own player highlights and memorabilia.

 

🎮 Esports Momentum Carrying Into | Front Office Sports

Chock one positive story up to the pandemic: it likely caused four-years of gaming adoption in just one year. A very strong 2020 for the video game industry could continue well into the new year. Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak says the pandemic “likely pulled forward four years of gamer adoption.” Six of the largest game publishers are expected to report a combined $24 billion in 2020 revenue, up 19% from 2019.

 

🏏 Can Cricket Finally Make It’s U.S. Breakthrough? | Front Office Sports

You may not be familiar with Major League Cricket, the first-professional league for the sport in the U.S., but they’re slated to get bigger as the world’s second most popular sports continues to make inroads within America. A big redevelopment is taking place as the league redevelops the AirHogs minor league stadium facility in Grand Prairie, Texas. This project will continue to bring to light the conversation of repurposing and redeveloping stadium campuses across the country for current and future sports and leagues.

 

⛳️ Jordan Adds Private, Members-Only Golf Course to Sports Empire | Front Office Sports – Twitter

Michael Jordan has opened an exclusive, private golf course in South Florida near his home. The Grove XXIII features an 18-hole golf course, clubhouse, pro shop, and a learning facility. Designed by Bobby Weed Golf Design, the course is named after Jordan’s number 23. It’s interesting to see what one of the first billionaire athletes is doing for his personal brand, and will be even more interesting to follow what this generation’s biggest pros do once they retire with their personal brand and the fan-sport experience.

 

🖼 Picture of the Month

 

Empty Mall or Future HQ of Major Gaming Company?

Fortnite developer Epic Games was searching for a new HQ and found it in a unique piece of property. They purchased the nearly 1 million square foot, 90 acre “Cary Town Center” in Cary, NC, for $95M. This was an image taken from the mall this week. 📸 Source: Joe Pompliano Twitter

That’s all we have for the first month of 2021. We’ll continue to keep track of the sports tech stories that matter to you and package them up for you 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.

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