Edited by Tanner Simkins
In the latest edition of Rick Horrow's Sports Business Podcast, Rick sits down with EVERFI Co-founder Jon Chapman and takes you through the biggest sports business stories of the week.
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1. EverFi chants “Let’s Go Lightning.” Last Friday, the Tampa Bay Lightning invited 5,000 middle schoolers from the area to practice as part of their partnership with the Future Goals program from EverFi. The NHL and NHLPA are sponsoring the program that brings hockey into the classroom to explore STEM topics through sports. Future Goals features computer modules aimed at students in third through eighth grades on various topics. “We actually tried to use math and science in our ball hockey stuff,” Vice President of Community Hockey Development Jay Feaster shared with the Tampa Bay Times. “We show angles. If you pass off the boards here, or the different angles in the openings around a goalie.” While some of the students attending the Friday practice were hockey players, EverFi‘s NHL partnership recognizes that even those who don’t play the game have a better time absorbing STEM information through the lens of the sport.
2. Japanese hoops star Rui Hachimura made history before ever stepping on an NBA court. The 6-foot-8 forward became the first player born in Japan to be drafted when the Washington Wizards selected him with the No. 9 overall pick in June. His popularity in Japan is unmatched, making him unique among this year’s NBA rookie class. Because of Hachimura’s status as a national icon in Japan, there was intense competition to land him as a sneaker endorser. Initially, seven companies presented to Hachimura, including such basketball staples as Nike subsidiary Jordan Brand and multiple China-based companies. Hachimura ultimately decided to sign with Jordan Brand, which offered a blend of proven performance products, marketing cachet around the world, and an opportunity to join a smaller stable of players within the larger Nike umbrella. Look for other major endorsements to come Hachimura’s way for brands eager to penetrate the style-forward Japanese market.
3. The NHL’s Washington Capitals owners launch Caps Gaming Brand. Monumental Sports and Entertainment (MSE), the owners of the Washington Capitals NHL franchise, has launched an esports division called Caps Gaming, which will host a 32-team EA Sports NHL 20 competition. The Caps Gaming Showcase, a six-versus-six ice hockey esports tournament, which will launch on Xbox One, will feature an eight-week regular-season beginning in early December, with the top 16 teams advancing to a postseason stage held in late February, competing for a $15,000 prize pool. As part of Monumental’s gaming expansion, the esports division has also signed up professional NHL gamer John Casagranda, who is also known as “JohnWayne” and joins the Caps Gaming organization as an official streamer on the Caps Gaming Twitch channel until the end of June. In addition to being 2018 NHL Stanley Cup champions, Monumental owns and operates pro sports franchises based in the U.S. capital, including the NBA’s Washington Wizards and the WNBA champion Washington Mystics. By investing heavily in esports, MSE and the Capitals have kept themselves at the forefront of innovation across the NHL and are primed to cash-in on the rise of esports.
4. Advertising and patches in esports take root: Wizards District Gaming pen NBA 2K jersey patch deal with Alarm.com. According to SportsPro, the deal sees the Alarm.com also get virtual in-game signage during Wizards District Gaming play in the NBA 2K League, deepening its relationship with MSE, which also owns the NBA’s Washington Wizards and the NHL’s Washington Capitals. Alarm.com will also receive exposure during the NBA 2K League Draft, for which the Wizards’ esports team holds the number one overall pick this season. Further, the partnership features experiential activations, including a Wizards District Gaming sponsored employee program and players appearances, as well as social media features, branded content, digital banner advertisements on the team’s website, and brand integration within Amazon-owned streaming platform Twitch. Esports is the perfect place for tech-oriented agencies to advertise to appeal to fans who are always looking to upgrade their digital devices and software.
5. Sports tech and analytics company Whoop raises $55 million for its discreet wearables. Whoop, which makes a sensor-equipped and screen-free strap that continuously tracks your activities 24/7 and then provides a multitude of performance metrics and other data based on that activity, has closed a round of $55 million funding that it will use to continue expanding its business into a wider range of wearables and analytics that can be gathered around them. According to TechCrunch, the devices measure things like how much strain a workout is causing you, how you are recovering afterward, your sleep, whether training is having the desired effect, whether you are working at a level that will be less likely to cause injury, and how you are likely to perform. Looking ahead, the plan is to place the sensors into more environments than just the strap it currently makes. One notable shift Whoop has seen in the last year is that it has dropped the price of its wearable from a sizeable $500 down to free. Instead, it bundles the strap into a wider membership program that you do pay for, starting at $30/month and decreasing, depending on what you would like to measure and use the data for – and because it’s simpler than Google’s recently-acquired Fitbit, Whoop may find more success by providing simplicity in an over-inundated tech world.