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11.25.19 Rick Horrow interviews EVERFI Co-founder Jon Chapman

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USA TODAY Sports

11.25.19 Rick Horrow interviews EVERFI Co-founder Jon Chapman

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.

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST HERE



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.

 

12.13.19 Rick Horrow sits down golf icon Gary Player

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USA TODAY Sports

12.13.19 Rick Horrow sits down golf icon Gary Player

Edited by Tanner Simkins

In the latest edition of Rick Horrow's Sports Business Podcast, Rick sits down with golf icon Gary Player and shares his top sports technology & media issues of the past decade.

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST HERE

1. High Definition (HD). The most essential element for the sports consumer? Watching the game. High definition pushed the envelope this decade so much that now anything non-HD seems archaic – just think about what those old “Wide World of Sports” clips look like. The first major sporting event broadcast nationwide in the U.S. in HD was Super Bowl XXXIV, broadcast by ABC on January 30, 2000. By the 2014–2015 television season, every network show producing new episodes had transitioned to high definition. And virtually all HD technology was developed by global sports league partners, with broadcasting live sporting events that delivered almost the same immediacy as being there a top-line goal for developers. Over 90% of U.S. homes have an HD television, and nearly 30% have a 4K TV. 4K (UltraHD) is here and 8k coming, virtual reality is next, the envelope is still being pushed. 

 

2. Connectivity. WiFi, Bluetooth, mobile data plans, cloud services, the Internet of Things (IoT) and getting devices communicating with other devices have created opportunities limited only by creativity. When devices can interact and share information, the smarter decisions media and tech companies can make. From minor league ballparks to arenas, soccer-specific stadiums, and the almost completed $4.93 billion SoFi Stadium and entertainment complex in Los Angeles, the “Connected Facility” over the last decade has become the absolute standard in sports stadia, empowering teams and vendors every bit as much as fans. At SoFi (named by a tech company, of course), according to CNBC, “Technology that will make the stadium experience unique includes a 70,000-sq-ft Oculus display board that will have 4K double-sided video; 5G communications network; Wi-Fi 6, the next generation of wireless to deliver faster speeds, and digital ticketing provided by Ticketmaster.

 

3. Media rights. This past decade was defined by mega deals in sports media rights. Whether it’s new networks, broadcast rights, digital rights, streaming rights, on-demand, or over the top, the media rights deals now are now not uncommon to be in the billions. U.S. sports rights are estimated to be worth a total of $22.42 billion in 2019, about 44% of the total worldwide sports media market, according to SportBusiness Media. And a rising number of major sporting events available via streaming services is set to drive the revenue for global broadcast rights beyond $85 billion by the end of 2024, according to a recent Rethink TV report. The Sports Rights Forecast to 2025 paper shows the global value of sports rights currently at around $48.6 billion, though the report predicts an increase of 75% over the next five years due to a growth in audiences choosing direct-to-consumer (DTC) content.

 

4. Ticketing. Going to a sporting event is still core to the sports experience. In this past decade, the ticketing business saw tech-related advances like dynamic pricing, paperless tickets, and digital second market sellers, all of which backed by data and CRM. As with so many things in our lives now, your mobile phone is now your sports ticket. At that Next Big Thing sports tech lab otherwise known as SoFi Stadium, CNBC notes the SafeTix digital ticketing provided by Ticketmaster “uses a rotating entry token that refreshes an encrypted barcode every 15 seconds to prevent counterfeiting and improve security. The digital ticket will also send customized messages to the ticketholder on a host of things — from VIP events to updates on parking information and merchandising offers.” And just last week, Swiss ticketing firm Viagogo agreed to buy StubHub for $4.05 billion, looking to leverage the brand globally.

12.9.19 Rick Horrow sits down with Julie Edelman, Global Client Partner of Google

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USA TODAY Sports

12.9.19 Rick Horrow sits down with Julie Edelman, Global Client Partner of Google

Edited by Tanner Simkins

In the latest edition of Rick Horrow's Sports Business Podcast, Rick sits down with  Julie Edelman, Global Client Partner of Google.

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST HERE

1. It's hard to believe, but we have reached the end of yet another decade. And in the business of sport, it’s been a busy one. Here are Rick Horrow’s top 15 sport business/law trends and issues of the decade just ending. Stay tuned throughout December for his top 15 sports technology and media picks, as well as his most influential philanthropic/corporate social responsibility actions in sports, and an early look at the year and decade ahead.

2. State by state, legal sports wagering outside of Nevada sportsbooks takes hold, with massive business implications. On May 14, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting. Since the ruling, 19 states have legalized the practice, with Colorado, Illinois, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Tennessee passing legislation this year. Additionally, 24 states have pending legislation. Legal sports wagering has already had a profound effect on virtually all American professional sports, casting a wider fan base net, spurring innovation in sports media and e-commerce, and birthing an entire cottage industry of related new companies. Sports teams are embracing fans who wager – Monumental Sports & Entertainment, owners of the Washington Wizards and Capitals, is only the latest ownership group to install a sportsbook in their venue. And tens of millions of tax dollars on net sports betting proceeds are adding income streams to state and community coffers. 

 

3. College football adds a real playoff. After years of avoiding adding yet another game to the college football season via the auspice of the Bowl Championship Series – a selection system that created five existing bowl matchups involving ten of the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision’s top-ranked teams – the NCAA in the 2014-2015 season finally embraced the College Football Playoff (CFP), a bracket tournament between the top four teams in the country as determined by a selection committee, culminating in a championship game at a neutral site. While the payout for the semifinal teams is a modest $6 million, the playoff format delivers tens of millions in additional revenue to the schools, conferences, and contract and access bowl host cities – a handful of which, including New Orleans this year, get to double down on hosting duties and economic impact.

 

4. After 20 long years, Los Angeles gets an NFL team back in 2016. In fact, it gets two. Largely thanks to billionaire and St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, Los Angeles has now positioned itself to be the center of the sports universe for the next decade and likely longer. The two-decade span in which Los Angeles lacked an NFL team was brought on in part by the obsolescence of Los Angeles’s existing stadiums, the unwillingness of the NFL to add expansion teams after 2002 (when the Houston Texans premiered) or relocate any other teams, and an inability to agree on a plan to build a new stadium, despite several proposals that were vetted but never landed a team willing to relocate under the developers’ terms. Kroenke’s privately-funded SoFi Stadium opens next July with a Taylor Swift concert and will house both the Rams and the Chargers. Additionally, the $4.963 billion venue will host Super Bowl LVI in 2022, the CFP National Championship Game in 2023, and the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. L.A. is now synonymous with mega sports events.

 

5. Rob Manfred became the 10th Major League Baseball Commissioner during a period of labor peace and unrest in almost everything else. At the beginning of the decade, baseball was still healing from its steroid era, a span in the 1990s-2000s where home runs were plenty and performance-enhancing drug testing scarce. Former Commissioner Bud Selig was largely credited with cleaning up the sport, and in 2015 Manfred inherited a league that was in decent baseball shape but desperately trying to stay relevant to the next generation of fans. Slow play was an issue…but a pitch clock somehow made games even slower. PED bats were gone, but the balls appeared to be corked. And Manfred’s decade ends with a nasty sign-stealing scandal involving the World Series champion Houston Astros. One bright spot in baseball continues to be its vast minor league system, which ensures pro baseball is played throughout America’s smaller communities – MiLB saw attendance in 2019 surpassed 44 million fans annually. As baseball’s Winter Meetings convene next week in San Diego, MiLB President Pat O’Connor and industry experts present a solution to improved facilities that rests in three key areas: time, money, and space.