Sports Business

Sports Business: How Pokemon Go can help sports teams

Sports Business: How Pokemon Go can help sports teams

The Pokémon Go mobile game was released on Apple (AAPL +0.03%) iOS and Google (GOOGL +0.80%) Android platforms on July 6. Not only did it almost immediately become one of the most popular games of all time, the app passed Twitter (TWTR +0.43%) and Facebook (FB +1.01%) in daily users in less than two weeks. So how did a game that features small colorful monsters that users “catch” by visiting real world locations become so popular so quickly?

Pokémon Go is the latest game to take advantage of Augmented Reality (AR). AR enables users to view data overlaid on the real world. Computer vision and object recognition allow devices to change the user’s perception of the physical reality around them. For Pokémon Go, this means overlaying the interactive game map on the real streets and buildings of reality and allowing users to catch Pokémon using their camera. What makes Pokémon so attractive to users is this intersection of the virtual and real world as created by AR.

This is something that should be embraced by all sports organizations. In particular, sports teams of all sizes are facing issues with having fans come to stadiums for games and live events. While media agreements do drive significant revenue for major professional and collegiate sports organizations, attendance is a multibillion-dollar issue. College football has seen attendance drop for the past five years.

The problem for many sports teams is that viewing the game at home can often be better than coming to a venue. A sports fan can sit on his/her favorite couch, order his/her favorite food, not have to deal with traffic issues, and often have better views of the action from home. Bathrooms are only a room away as well. Because of this dynamic, many sports organizations have already made building connectivity into the fan experience a central part of the solution to this problem. The NFL has spent years bringing Wi-Fi to stadiums so that fans can have the same connectivity in the stadium that they do at their homes.

However, AR can add something unique to this equation. People leave their houses playing Pokémon Go because the only way to catch the monsters is to actually go to the stadium. Developing unique content, rewards, and information that can be only be obtained by coming to a venue provides a new reason for fans to leave their houses during games. Many of these features are already available through third party apps like ESPN or theScore. Integrating these features with stadium specific content and facilitated venue access increases the sense of community that makes attending a game so special and truly augments the reality of the experience.

As the technology develops, sports organizations and their partners will be able to develop new corporate partnership opportunities as well. In addition to statistics and information, these apps will give the franchise a new advertising forum to sell to brands. What makes this so attractive from a sponsorship perspective is that you can have an engaged audience that will follow specific call-to-action campaigns in ways that are organic to the experience. In addition, teams and their partners can track behavior in real-time and send targeted ads to fans that are near the venue, concession stand or store to maximize in-venue purchases. This is already happening with Pokémon Go and McDonald’s exploring a potential partnership that would help drive Pokémon Go players to its restaurants.

The UFC and eSports have demonstrated how sports organization can leverage new technologies to generate revenue in more traditional revenue streams. AR is a great example of how to execute this strategy. Implementing AR to provide the fans and corporate partners unique experiences will enable sports organizations to more effectively monetize the in-venue experience.

Adam Grossman is the president of the sports sponsorship and analytics firm Block Six Analytics. He is also the co-author of "The Sports Strategist: Developing Leaders for a High-Performance Industry." In addition, he is currently an adjunct lecturer at Northwestern University, where he teaches classes on entrepreneurship and quantitative analysis. Grossman also contributes to Forbes. Follow Adam Grossman on Twitter @adamrgrossman.

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Kelly Crull talks about covering the Bulls with Laurence Holmes

NBC Sports Chicago

Kelly Crull talks about covering the Bulls with Laurence Holmes

Laurence Holmes hosts the "House of L Podcast" in addition to his role on radio and as host of the Football After Show for NBC Sports Chicago.  On the podcast, Holmes provides a more in-depth look at media and how it works.

The most recent episode is an interview with our own Kelly Crull, who in addition to covering the Chicago Cubs during games will be working as a sideline reporter during Bulls games this NBA season.

Crull talks to Holmes about the challenge of covering two beats, one beginning immediately after the start of the season. . Crull talks about returning to her first love, basketball, and also sheds light on what drives her in her career. The pair also discuss locker room and clubhouse etiquette

The Daily Line: Week 7 Football Picks

NBC Sports Chicago

The Daily Line: Week 7 Football Picks

The Supreme Court opened the door for sports betting legalization with its May ruling that struck down a 1992 law that banned commercial sports betting in most states. Sports betting is not yet legal in Illinois, but with football season underway, former Northwestern offensive lineman Eric Olson will take a weekly look at the odds surrounding the action on the field.

YTD record: 21-7 against the spread (11-1 in last 12)

New England Patriots vs. Chicago Bears 10/21 12:00pm CT

Line: Pats -3
Betting Percentages Split: 76% of the tickets on the Pats
The play: Bears +3

Listen here. I am not being a homer. In fact, I am from the Boston area and have been rooting for the Patriots my entire life. This is simply a great spot for the Bears. You have a Patriots team that is coming off the biggest win any team has had this season, beating the seemingly unbeatable Kansas City Chiefs in primetime. On the other side, you have a Bears team that just turned in one of the most disappointing performances of the season, losing outright to the Miami Dolphins and Brock Osweiler as a 7 point favorite. The Pats have been terrible outside of Foxboro and this is probably the best team they have faced on the road thus far this season. Additionally, this line has stayed firm at 3 and has even moved to 2.5 in some places despite the massive bet discrepancy favoring the Pats. What does that tell us? That the Pros are all over the Bears and refuse to move the line despite the public being all over New England. Ride the home town team catching points at Soldier Field.

Buffalo Bills vs Indianapolis Colts 10/7 1:00pm CT

Line: Colts -7
Betting Percentages Split: 55% of tickets on Colts
The play: Bills +7

If you have been reading my column throughout this NFL season you know I love bad NFL games. Go where nobody wants to go, get dirty and pick gross teams. I also have been pretty successful picking my spots betting on the Bills this year and I love going back to the well here. Simply put, the Colts should not be laying 7 points to ANYBODY at this point of the season. Sean McDermott decided to go with Derek Anderson this week and according to reports, this was to the delight of the locker room as they do not have to endure another Peterman Pix-Six Bonanza. I think this could give the Bills a little spark and anything that Anderson has left in the tank will be on display Sunday against the worst defense in the NFL. Circle those wagons, take the Bills and the points.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Kansas City Chiefs 10/21 7:20pm CT

Line: Chiefs -6
Betting Percentages Split: 75% of tickets on the Chiefs
The play: Bengals +6

Good loses are a real thing in the NFL when it comes to betting perception. Not a single person is knocking the Chiefs for their primetime loss to the Pats in Foxboro. I think Vegas could have set this line at a touchdown and the public would still jump all over the Chiefs. What does that tell you? I think this a questions bettors need to ask themselves more often. What it probably tells you is that Vegas values the Bengals more than the general public does and they aren't as bought into the Chiefs hype. Side with the house, fade the public and take a very solid Bengals team getting 6 points playing a Chiefs team having to get up for two straight primetime games.

New York Giants vs. Atlanta Falcons 10/22 7:20pm CT

Line: Falcons -5.5
Betting Percentages Split: 75% of tickets on the Falcons
The play: Giants +5.5

I said that week of 10/7 was my grossest set of picks to date. What happened that week you ask? I went 5-0. Pick your spots and bet bad teams in the NFL. It works. This league does not operate the way you want it to and you have to be willing to make picks that feel ‘off’. Here is another example of that. By any eye test, this makes no sense. The Giants are in the running for the worst team in the NFL and the Falcons, while overall disappointing, still have shown flashes of their talented roster that brought them to Super Bowl two years ago. However, when you move past the surface, you see a matchup that actually really favors the Giants. The Falcons are ravaged by injuries on both sides of the ball and the Falcons have one of the worst defenses in the league and will not be able to exploit the Giants porous O-Line like other teams have. I think these matchups are why Vegas set this line so low and why it has even moved in the Giants direction despite heavy public Atlanta action. Hold your nose and bet the G-men. 

Bonus College Game

Mississippi State vs. LSU 10/20 6:00pm CT

Line: LSU -6.5
Betting Percentages Split: 60% of tickets on LSU
The play: Mississippi State +6.5 (get 7 if you can)

LSU is the most overvalued team in the country. They have actually been out-gained in 4 of their 6 wins. That is an ABSURD statistic that just screams regression as the year carries on. Mississippi State has a really, really good defense and should be able to fluster Joe Burrow all day long. The Bulldogs put it to LSU last year and I expect them to show up again. Take Miss State and the points. Sprinkle the moneyline while you’re at it.