Andy Dolich's Top 10 Biz Ball storylines to watch in 2016
What's in store...
This year, 2016, will be ushered in by Auld Lang (dollar) Signs for the leading athletes, teams, and sports-associated technologies of the Bay Area. Some will be making huge deposits and others may need to fill out withdrawal slips. Sports Business Insider Andy Dolich details the top Biz Ball storylines to watch in the Bay Area this year...
10. Growth of virtual reality (VR)
The perception of virtual reality as a new way to consume sports is going to become a practical application. As costs are becoming more affordable, teams, networks, athletes, events and marketers are becoming leaders in using VR as a viable way to provide immersive experiences to anyone, anywhere in the world.
9. Athletes/teams/leagues getting involved in major social causes
The NBA has taken a proactive national stand against gun violence featuring Steph Curry, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Joakim Noah. The players are joined during the TV spots by survivors of gun violence and others who are holding photos of loved ones who were killed. This is a bold move by the NBA, but underscores that times are changing throughout the world of sports. From John Carlos and Tommie Smith black gloved protest in the 1968 Olympics to the University of Missouri football team protest this past season, active involvement in social causes will increase significantly in 2016.
8. Bay Area athletes in Rio Olympics
Cal and Stanford athletes won 32 medals at the Summer Olympics in London. If California was a country, it would always finish in the Top 10 in the medal count. Olympic gold turns into real endorsement cash for those from the Bay Area who samba back from Rio with a medal around their neck.
7. NFL officiating
It is way past the point of diminishing returns for the NFL not to go to a full-time status for all their game officials. This NFL is the only major league without full-time officials. The self-inflicted complexity imposed by the league to keep up with head injuries along with replay interruptions has slowed the game to a crawl. You need a PhD to figure all this out. It is a simple business decision which would only cost a few million dollars for a multi-billion dollar business to improve its overall product.
6. Concussions in contact sports
The focus up to this point has been on the NFL. Hits to the head can occur in many sports at any age, which is of increasing concern for parents of young athletes. The basis of the sports business is participation, and the color of the fluid that runs through the veins of pro sports is green. As the science improves on diagnosing head injuries, every business entity that is associated with heavy contact sports will be monitoring the risk/reward of its participation.
5. 49ers' strategy to win back fans
Empty seats speak louder than any leather-lunged fan. The post-Harbaugh period has been filled with more angst than wins. This year's postseason press conference will be the most scrutinized in many seasons. Jed York has asked fans and the media to hold him accountable, and they will. If fans don’t believe their investment in seat licenses is living up to the promise, you’ll see many more listed on secondary ticket sites for resale. The fans' commitment to the team will be under a microscope as the 2016 season kicks off.
4. Raiders staying or going?
The NFL owners have called a special meeting on Jan. 12/13 in Houston to determine whether the Raiders, Chargers or Rams may be allowed to relocate to the lucrative Los Angeles market in either Carson or Inglewood. Twenty-four votes are needed to green-light a move. Without a current viable new stadium plan Oakland could lose its second tenant. I predict they will be kicking off the 2016 football season at O.Co as NFL owners continue to figure out the Rubik’s Cube that is their relocation puzzle. Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like the Black Hole.
3. Focus on security at sporting events
How do we effectively create secure fan environments without taking away the openness of our sporting events and venues? Fans are trusting authorities and leagues to be ahead of the forces of evil. The process of going to a game will become more complicated and expensive for teams, fans and event operators in the future.
2. Media consumption of live sporting events
Baby Boomers are heading off to retirement all over Northern California with Millennials taking their place in the disposable income spending race. We are seeing a major change in how sports content is consumed and viewed. Is this generation going to spend more time looking down than up when they go to a live sporting event? Or will they just bypass the event altogether? The smartphone is well on the way to becoming the ultimate arena in 2016.
1. Golden State Warriors & Stephen Curry
The Warriors' magic carpet ride continues in 2016 as they cash in on the explosive growth of their style of play led by the best baby-faced baller in the NBA. This well-oiled hoops machine is on the way to opening a new billion dollar Mission Bay home by 2018. Everything with Golden State attached to it has become platinum. If the Warriors were an IPO everyone's buying.