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🔥Upside Chat: Pete DeNagy, 5G/WiFi 6 Expert, President of IOT America & Former GM of Samsung Enterprise

🔥Upside Chat: Pete DeNagy, 5G/WiFi 6 Expert, President of IOT America & Former GM of Samsung Enterprise

This week we had the honor to interview Pete DeNagy, President of Acommence advisors, and founder of IOT America. Pete is also the former GM of Samsung enterprise.

📝Show Notes: Throughout our conversation, we touched on his background, his view on the top 5G/WIFI 6 use cases in sports stadiums, the biggest benefits he sees for teams to use 5G/WIFI 6. He also gave his view on how 5G/WIFI 6 can help teams better stay connected to their fans. Lastly we discussed 6G and the killer use cases there.

🚀Best Quotes: Here’s some of the key discussion points and best quotes from our conversation with Pete:

  1. On how he started his career in pro sports: “So this happens to be my 38th year in communications mobile and IoT. I have a background in consulting. I worked previously for both Accenture and Capgemini. I’ve also worked in systems integration with EDS carriers. I worked with GTE, Harris and Global Crossing and of course as you had mentioned I was the General Manager of Enterprise for the United States Samsung. I actually helped write Samsung’s global strategy for enterprise mobility”.
  2. On XR (Mixed Reality, Virtual Reality) as a key 5G, WiFi-6 use case in sports stadiums: “From a use case perspective aside from connectivity, I think the great use case is the XR use case in sports. And what I mean by XR is that we have all heard of virtual reality and augmented reality. I think we’re going to actually see the melding of the two so that fans can go forward, look on the field and actually see augmentation in real time with statistics. So you’ll get the live action experience of being at the stadium, as well as all the graphical capabilities that you get from being at home. So if you watch an NFL game and you see the painted lines per se on the field on your TV set, of course they’re not there in reality, but they are an augmentation of reality that’s presented to you on the TV screen. Well with 5G or with WiFi-6 you’re now going to be able to use your phone or going to be able to use AR glasses or you’re actually going to be able to use XR glasses which have both virtual and augmented capabilities to go forward and get that exact same experience like you would get on your TV set. You’ll be able to see the real time statistics, the percentages, the analytics like you would in the home experience, yet have the robust luster of being at the game which is not something that you can recreate at home or in a restaurant”.
  3. On the need to have HIPPA compliance to enable live 5G enabled gambling with players’ live biometric data (HR, hydration..) in the future: “So gambling is a huge driver in all this. One of the concerns of course for the biometric statistics, you’re going to have to get player’s consent. Different nations have different rules and in the United States of course there are the HIPPA rules. So the HIPPA rules will actually be applicable on a player by player basis being able to present their individual biometric statistics in a public manner. Some players will opt in and some players will not”.
  4. On the new use cases that 5G/WiFi 6 will enhance starting with the customer experience (e.g. ordering, concierge services..) in stadiums: There is the customer intimacy aspect of 5G and WiFi-6. You will have the ability to go forward and provide IoT use cases in the stadium itself for the seating, for ordering, for concierge services, for attendance, for maintenance. Case in point.. You can do this today. You can actually put in sensors in the men’s and the women’s rest facilities per se to see if they need servicing, but one of the things also that you can do is you can track, you can have wearables that are mobile applications for the spectator so you can actually track their motion from within the stadium. What percentage of the time are they sitting? What percentage of the time are they at the bar? What percentage of the time are they in the concourse, where are they spending their dollars? Are they going to go to food concessions, to gift concessions, to clothing concessions? Are they doing activities and games with their children? These things are all available with 5G and WiFi-6. You can architect them directly onto their mobile devices and there are wearables. So I think it’s really important to look at that because at that point the fan experience is much more than just watching the game. The fan experience is actually going out to as they say in baseball, the ball park”.
  5. On his advice to pro teams and leagues looking to deploy 5G/WiFi 6: “That’s a tremendous question. So the first thing is I would look to architect a system that affords connectivity to whatever service provider is out there. So with 5G of course as we all know carriers bid on spectrum, on specific frequencies to deliver their signal. So they get licenses on regions, areas or nations to go deliver a signal. Therefore it’s really incumbent for the stadium owner to design the distributed antenna system in the stadium to go and support all of the carriers that actually will go forward and utilize that venue. So case in point Verizon could come in, in the United States and deploy a distributed antenna system or a microcell system for 5G and it shuts out T-Mobile and AT&T and that would be bad. So the stadium owner needs to take control of it. Secondarily for a stadium owner there is a trend for private LTE and 5G where actually they own the infrastructure and by owning the infrastructure they can actually deploy what’s called a neutral host and in the neutral host they basically provide the ubiquitous connectivity to all the carriers. And in essence they create a roaming agreement with all the carriers so they can actually share in the revenue stream for each cell call, each data connection. I think that’s really going to be important in that”.
  6. On the benefits of using WiFI 6: “WiFi-6 has some really nice incumbent benefits. One WiFi-6 affords giggy connectivity and secondly from the AP perspective you actually get a four full distance gain, or more. Right now a WiFi AP using WiFi-5 goes about 150 to 200 meters. A WiFi-6 AP has four times the connectivity, has better channel management, has better battery management and can go up to about 1,000 meters. So that works out really well. It also addresses IoT devices so you can signal out channels for better battery usage. One other thing that the WiFi-6 scenario provides is that WiFi-6 has the ability to do WiFi backhaul, which means that you can mesh the AP’s to in essence you provide the WiFi backhaul from the near end to a far end in a chain of AP’s. This means that you can more efficiently utilize the back bandwidth through that. One of the things that’s of course important in all of this is you need WiFi-6 and, or 5G endpoints and the vast majority of mobile devices carried by consumers today don’t have 5G on them and won’t have 5G on them or WiFi-6 for the very near future. From what I understand we’re going to start seeing commercially deployed WiFi-6 endpoints in the market towards the end of the year. They’re building them in. So you’re not going to see a lot of your consumers yet have 5G and, or WiFi-6 devices in their hands in any type of scale until the beginning of 2022”.
  7. On the preferred use cases for WiFi-6 Vs uses cases for 5G: “People like Ericsson and Nokia, Samsung, LG in Europe and Asia CTE and HUAWEI are deploying 5G and they’re all talking about private LTE. And owning the infrastructure and the cases therein. What I think you’re going to see is stadium owners forced to do both the WiFi-6 and 5G. So the WiFi-6 will be a deployment that will be less costly than an LTE or a 5G deployment. You’re not looking at a core or a virtualized core or a VRAM and an open RAM type of deployment as microcells. You’re just putting up AP, WiFi APs and you don’t have to put up as many of them. I mean you do have to and look at them from a density perspective and a peak performance perspective. But the downside of WiFi-6 is the fact that when you go forward and you address the connectivity to the AP even though you have four times the capacity that you had before, you still have the problems of running it out. However, the benefits of 5G and the benefits of WiFi-6 are actually pretty closely aligned when it comes to connectivity, with regard to the endpoint. And as a matter of fact there are a lot of initiatives that talk about integrating WiFi-6 and 5G where strategies are that WiFi-6 will end up doing the voiceover IP connectivity to the endpoint and then integrating to the 5G ran core scenario to do the backhaul. It’s very interesting. 5G of course provides some really good security capabilities. Some really good channel capabilities. The channel slicing is interesting in 5G. There are a lot of upsides for doing 5G as well. 5G is going to cost more money than WiFi-6”.
  8. On the likely emergence of 5G enabled sponsored data with premium content: “I think with 5G you’re going to see a lot of sponsored data with premium content coming into 5G enabled mobile devices whereas you have a data plan and you would have it capped, but with the sponsored data the data price would then be covered by the content issuer. So I think you’ll see a lot of those plans coming out as well. The other thing that you can do is you’ll also be able to, with 5G and WiFi-6 in the stadium itself, from an LBS perspective or a location perspective, push data in real time to the end user. You’re going to see those types of premium services as well and you’re going to do those services in conjunction with the carrier and of course money”.
  9. On why VR is a killer app in the world of social distancing with COVID-19 today: “VR is absolutely going to be, in a socially distant world, a killer app. One thing I didn’t mention I’m on the board of a VR company MindVR for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. The problem with VR today is that VR is not a real time experience. You must cache the video, store the video and then replay the video and the audio. Otherwise if you do it in real time, your connectivity must be ubiquitous and at high speed without interruption. Otherwise you get the delay, the fade, the jitter and there are actually physical problems associated with VR”.
  10. On 6G and the killer use cases: “The good news is that there are a lot of thoughts being going into 6G right now. It’s all academic. Several universities, the University of Oulu also is working on it. They’re in Finland. So if you’re going to ask who’s going to do 6G first, I’m going to tell you it’s going to be either Sweden or Finland and the reason that I say Sweden or Finland is because in Finland Nokia has it headquarters there, and Sweden has Ericsson. So I think they are leading the research. But with the 6G deployments I think you are looking at a lot more contextual awareness. You’re looking at a lot more human machine interface. The target date for 6G is 2030. It’s 10 years away. 1G emerged in 1985, 2G was in 1993, 3G was in 2005, 4G was in 2011 and then so here we are, we’re in 2020 and we’re doing 5G. So it’s pretty much every 10 years”.
🔥Upside TV Show: Philippe Kahn, Fullpower Technologies CEO

🔥Upside TV Show: Philippe Kahn, Fullpower Technologies CEO

Last week we had the honor to interview Philippe Kahn, the CEO of Fullpower Technologies, a world’s leading sleep technology company. Philippe is also well known for creating the first camera phone and has been a pioneer in the area of wearable technology intellectual property.

📝Show Notes: We discussed Philippe’s background, how he started Fullpower Technologies, then we talked about his product, his plans for the next 2 years, and the trends he sees in the smart tech sleeping world.

 

Video: Philippe Kahn

Please note that this is the beginning of a video interview series with top sports and tech executives to discuss the latest and greatest technologies used in the world of pro sports.

🔥Upside Chat: Brendan Donohue, NBA 2K League

🔥Upside Chat: Brendan Donohue, NBA 2K League

This week we had the honor to interview Brendan Donohue, Managing Director of the NBA 2K League.

📝Show Notes: Throughout our conversation, we talked about the NBA’s decision to enter eSports, the response from their fans so far, and what they have learned since the launch. We also talked about the challenges they have faced, the recipe for success for a sports organization to enter the  esports market..and the NBA’s goals in the eSports space in the coming years.

🚀Best Quotes: Here’s some of the key discussion points and best quotes from our conversation with Brendan:

  1. On the NBA’s decision to enter eSports: While we’ve been around, this is our second season, so this process probably started about four years ago. We’ve been looking at eSports really more broadly and it’s been just this business that keeps exploding in growth and growth and higher and higher. We saw this burgeoning community that was developing and so we thought as a media company that the NBA is, there was an opportunity there that existed that we wanted to take a look at. Then the second thing I would say is our NBA owners were very bullish on eSports. In fact, they were starting to invest in eSports even outside of the 2K League. They were really pushing us to consider something in Esports. Then the last piece was, we just have a really successful NBA game that we have access to and so 2K is the best selling sports game and sports title in North America, and the second biggest globally. We had this great game. We also had partnered with 2K and so it all brought it together to be a really easy decision for us to start the 2K League”.
  2. On what they have learned so far since launching the 2K League, and on anything that they would have done differently: “I think the biggest thing we learned early on was just how truly engaging our players are. Our players are very unique individuals. They all came from very different backgrounds. Some might have been an Uber driver. Some might have been in the military. We had a police officer that joined the League. We had all these really amazing backgrounds and stories and just stories we had to tell. (..) We learned that really in season two that that story needed to be unpacked more. So we’ve developed a docu-series that we now are releasing every week, just really telling those behind-the-scenes stories of the players behind the League and really their life stories (..) We had amazingly strong feedback about it. I’d say in terms of what we learned, we learned we had to one, continue to unpack the stories of our players and then also number two is, prioritize storytelling content because while people love the game, they equally love hearing what is unique about our players and about everything else about the League”.
  3. On the biggest challenges they have faced: “One was initially that we had to make sure we created awareness about the League. You assume an NBA product and a 2K product would naturally have great awareness, but in fact, we had to one, make the eSports community and everyone aware of what we were doing and really making people aware of what the 2K League was. Then also, educating them on what we were doing because what we were embarking on was very different than what other traditional sports leagues had done up until that point. We went all in on Esports. It’s five on five. It’s not LeBron playing Steph. It’s actually our 126 players playing their own unique avatar. We had to really educate everyone on what we were doing. Out of the gates, that was probably our biggest challenge. Then I would say now, the biggest thing we’re trying to overcome is if you come to our studio, people realize it is electric. I mean, the excitement, on the stage, the unique set up we have, that circle set up where players are facing each other is unique to eSports. It creates this level of engagement amongst the players and it’s trash talk and it’s excitement. It’s amazing when you’re in the studio. We have to continue to figure out a way to have that translate into the broadcast. That’s really one big thing we’re focused on for this year”.
  4. On the need to listen to the eSports community and your staff in order to offer the best eSports experience: “It is about listening to the community and it’s the fans, it’s your broadcast, it’s listening to your players. Oftentimes, the changes we’re making from week to week, they might come from our staff just in the studio sitting with players and talking to them and finding out what they think we should be doing differently”.
  5. On the need to combine the best of traditional sports with the best of eSports: “Generally speaking, traditional sports are really good at the business. Whether that’s putting on a production or it’s creating great partnership or marketing the product. That’s really in their wheelhouse. (..) We initially took the approach of, how can we take the best of eSports and the best of traditional sports? That has been our mindset all along. There are a lot of amazing things that I think traditional sports brings to Esports. If you followed our League, you’ll know we have a very, you might call it a traditional draft that the players love and their families love and it creates that moment. The perfect moment we had this year was Chiquita being drafted and that moment when the audience erupted”.
  6. On Chiquita Evans, and how it goes well with the NBA’s priority to improve diversity: “It was a priority for us as a League. It’s one of our core values, which is making diversity and inclusion a priority. That moment when Chiquita was drafted was amazing as I mentioned earlier. The reception she has gotten from her team, from fans, has been outstanding. It’s been really an exciting moment for the League. I would say Chiquita is a great player. She’s an even better person and ambassador. She is the perfect first person, first woman to be a part of this League. She’s been a great role model. I have no doubt that there are women competitively playing right now or young girls who are watching our League that are completely being inspired by her and they will be our next generation of women in the 2K League”.
  7. On their goal for the next 2 years: “I would say probably our biggest priority is making sure we continue to find the best players on the planet. We think there is a big opportunity for this League to be a global league and so that means global fans and we want to make sure that we’re giving them access to the League and that we’re covered around the world. We also want to make sure that we have players from all over the world. We already have that to a certain degree as we have nine players this year that are international players. Then the last thing I would be to have franchises all over the world. We think there is an opportunity for us to have a team in London or a team in Shanghai playing Knicks Gaming or playing Celtics Crossover Gaming. We expect this to be a totally global league”.
🔥Upside Video Chat: Marc Rowley, CEO of Live CGI

🔥Upside Video Chat: Marc Rowley, CEO of Live CGI

This week we had the honor to interview Marc Rowley, CEO of Live CGI, which recently built the NBA 2K League’s virtual studio. Marc also worked for ESPN for 18+ years where he built cutting edge technologies (AR, VR..).

📝Show Notes: Throughout our conversation, we touched on his background, how he got the idea of Live CGI, and his experience at ESPN. We also talked about the virtual studio he built for the NBA 2K league, and how his technology can help teams and leagues offset the losses in ticket sales from COVID-19 crisis.

Click on the video below to watch the full Upside TV interview (Powered by Live CGI) with Marc Rowley (Live CGI) and Julien Blin (The Upside host):

🔥Upside Chat: Dr Ron Dick, Duquesne University & Former NBA/NCAA exec

🔥Upside Chat: Dr Ron Dick, Duquesne University & Former NBA/NCAA exec

This week we had the honor to interview Dr. Ron Dick, associate professor of sports marketing at Duquesne University in the school of business. Ron also worked for 20 years in sports, including 15 years in the NBA with the Sixers and the Nets, and then four years in the NCAA.

📝Show Notes: Throughout our conversation, we touched on his background, his view on the COVID-19 crisis, but also what teams and leagues should do to offset losses in ticket sales and sponsorship. And we talked about the financial impact of the COVID-19 on the sports industry.

🚀Best Quotes: Here’s some of the key discussion points and best quotes from our conversation with Ron:

  1. On how he started his career in pro sports: In 1982, I was playing baseball at St. Joe’s University, and at the end of that year, I was a sophomore. I wrote four letters to the major teams, the Phillies, the Flyers, the Sixers, the Eagles, requesting an internship. I got three thanks, but no thanks, except for the 76ers. So that was the year we won the championship in ’82-’83, and I was an intern that year, and then also a part time employee in the second semester I went down Broad Street and got a championship ring. It was a fabulous experience at 21 years old. And then when I graduated in ’84, they created a position and I was the director of group sales the last nine years from ’87 to ’96, and then the team was sold and I went to the closest NBA team, which was at the time the New Jersey Nets as director of ticket sales. That happened to be John Calipari’s first year there. And it was interesting to see what the Sixers did better than the Nets, and what the Nets did better than the Sixers and compare two different NBA franchises in the area of sales and marketing”.
  2. On how the COVID-19 crisis compares to other events (strikes, lockouts..): “There’s a fundamental difference between a lockout and a strike. The fans, we just hear, “Oh, work’s stopping, work stoppage. I don’t get to watch my favorite team play, and that’s a problem.” But if we do a little bit of a deeper dive on that, a strike is when the players say, “We’re not happy with our contract” or “We don’t have a contract. We are not going to play.” Now, that happened in baseball on August 12th of ’94, and we did not have a world series in the fall classic of ’94. A work stoppage, the lockout, is when the owners lock the doors and say, “Players, you’re not allowed in to the facilities. You’re not allowed into the practice facilities and not allowed into the arenas. We are suspending business. We are not playing.” That happened in the NHL. They didn’t have a season the whole season, which was ’04-’05. NBA, in the fall of ’98, we only had a 50 game schedule that year, ’98-’99. And the Spurs won the championship that year, and some people think it’s tainted because it was not an 82 game schedule. I’m not one of those people. I think they earned their championship in a shortened 50 game schedule. So in those situations, it was negotiations between the owners, the league office and the players union. This situation is very unique in that the players are at risk”.
  3. On his view on TV rights moving forward: “I think we should expect the TV revenues to be even stronger than normal, and I base that on the NFL draft where the ratings were through the roof, and I give kudos to the NFL for the way they ran that whole thing and sent the packages out with the cameras. They did it very nicely, and they followed the WNBA model on a little bit of a lesser scale of Nielsen ratings, but it worked. Now will we one day do that for the NHL and the NBA draft and the baseball draft? Yes, I think they will. When, I don’t know. I think the NBA draft’s still a go. So TV ratings should be high. I just think that you recoup the finances you can. You can’t cry over spilled milk. You’ve just got to accept the fact that TV revenue is not going to be there. If the players can take a little bit of a reduction this is where the argument comes in, and the group that’s really in trouble is the MLB, major league baseball, because the players have an extremely strong union with no salary cap, and they’re asking players that are going to make upwards to $40M this year to take a severe pay cut”.
  4. On his view on the minor league baseball: “Into the MLB minor leagues, first of all, independent baseball is really in trouble. I don’t know if they will survive this, because those sports, those leagues, are always based on ticket revenue and the signage in the building, the people that are in the stands watching the signage, right? There’s the signage for TV. Well, we can recoup that, because millions of people are watching on TV at the highest level of sports, but there may be only 60,000 people there for a football game, where minor league baseball, there might be 3,000 people there. There might be 2,000 people there. Well, if we don’t have that revenue from the ticket sales, which then means makes the sponsorship worthless, because there is no TV, very little TV money and no radio money, then they won’t make it”.
  5. On the impact of COVID-19 on sports leagues: “The fans, and some of the retired players in the MLB, have spoken up and they’ve said, “Listen, there are people right now that have lost their job, and they are filing for unemployment, and right now it’s billionaires arguing with millionaires, and the guy that just lost his job doesn’t want to hear that someone that makes $7M to pitch baseballs and that a billionaire wants to cut his salary to $3.5M.” Down in Tampa Bay, the average person doesn’t want to hear about him complaining about that”.
  6. On the impact on the NCAA: “Sports does carry into college, especially at the five major conferences, the SEC, Big 10, the Big 12, the ACC, the PAC 12, so the question is: Are they going to play? And some schools can, and some schools can’t. And how does that affect the conference? The AAC is a pretty good athletic conference. It’s newer, but they have nine states represented in their conference. So the states and the universities that are in the center of the country are kind of like, “Hey, let’s go. We think we’re okay. This thing is not the same problem that you have in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC in particular, or in California, on the coasts, where the majority of the people live.” And what are we going to do about that? So the commissioners are scrambling. The athletic directors are scrambling. The presidents are scrambling, and who would want to be the president that would send students back into the dorms, and then God forbid something happens to one of the students. It’s complicated”.
  7. On what owners need to do to mitigate the COVID-19 crisis: “Everybody’s got to chip in. Max Scherzer with the MLB, with the world champion Washington Nationals, he was very outspoken that there’s no reason for us to talk anymore to the owners and to the teams if this is going to be their attitude. They really want the players to share in the decrease in salaries. They want a significant decrease after they’re backing away from their original proposal, which seemed more acceptable. Again, for the common person, it’s hard for them and us to understand billionaires arguing with millionaires, but I think the owners, it’s easy for me to say, because it’s not my money, but they should bite the bullet, pay the players their salaries or something fair, a percentage of their salary. Look, my Los Angeles Dodgers are worth more than $2 billion. That’s what the team sold for eight years ago or so. You’re going to get yours. Take a little bit of a hit now. You know you’re going to continue to go up. I think it’s on the owners to take a little bit of a hit right now. The players’ window is limited on how many years they can play, and if they do that, we can get the teams up and playing and getting something for people to watch on TV, I think that they’ll be pleasantly surprised how much they make off the ratings of the television”.
  8. On the impact that COVID-19 could have in the fall on US college campuses: “I think a lot of eyes and ears are going to be on Notre Dame, August 10th. And you say, well, what’s that? Notre Dame’s model is they’re going to start early on August 10th. They’re going to play their sports, and they’re going to be closed for business at the end of the semester by Thanksgiving. They’ll do their final exams online, and then they won’t reopen probably until the middle of end of January in case there was a second wave of this virus. (..) We’re supposed to open on face to face two weeks later on the 24th, so if we see this spread like wildfire through a college campus, I think we’ll all pump the brakes and go online, and that changes the whole dynamics of higher education if it’s online versus face to face but we can control our student as far as the classroom (..) But we saw what happened in March. The minute we closed down our college campuses, so many young people thought it was like an extended spring break and they went down to Florida, and then we had to use one of the Jenner girls to put out a public service announcement as an influencer and say, “Hey gang, you got to stop doing that.” We saw it spread like wildfire when they went down to the beaches of Florida and started partying. So that’s a real concern for us, dealing with younger people who think they’re invincible”.
🔥Upside Chat: Josh Margulies, Director of Integrated Brand Marketing (Jacksonville Jaguars, NFL) 

🔥Upside Chat: Josh Margulies, Director of Integrated Brand Marketing (Jacksonville Jaguars, NFL) 

This week we had the honor to interview Josh Margulies, Director of Integrated Brand Marketing for the Jacksonville Jaguars a top NFL team.

📝Show Notes: Throughout our conversation, we touched on his role at the Jags, the great job his team is doing in terms of fans engagement. Josh also gave us his advice for teams looking to offset loss in ticket sales due to COVID-19, and we talked about his team goals for the upcoming NFL season.

🚀Best Quotes: Here’s some of the key discussion points and best quotes from our conversation with Josh:

  1. On how he started his career in pro sports: Interestingly, I actually started my career off of the first 10 years in the Bay Area in technology. So I worked in gaming, I worked in technology companies like Logitech, and then I even built my own company for a little while. But ultimately what I always wanted to be was in sports. And so my first job in sports was running marketing for the Arizona Coyotes in the NHL. And then this opportunity came up with the Jacksonville Jaguars and as a diehard, lifelong football fan, I was that rare person whose dream was not to play sports, but to be the CMO of the 49s when I was a little kid. Thought this was a great opportunity to get to that next step and be part of the NFL, which is the Google of professional sports. And I had the opportunity to come in and run a number of functions. And it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. So that’s what I’m doing here. And then this is going to be my fourth season with the Jaguars”.
  2. On the great work his team is doing in terms of fan engagement: “I think the report you’re talking to came from Zoom, which was monitoring fan engagement during the schedule release. What the schedule really is for those who don’t know. It’s like the Academy Awards for social folks in sports, especially in football. So every year, all 32 teams put out these crazy videos, trying to capture everyone’s attention as soon as the schedule is released. And this year we were fortunate enough to be number one in terms of fan engagement, which is pretty incredible because if you look across the NFL, we’re actually the smallest franchise in terms of a fan base on social. We’ve been 32nd, we’re trying to catch up. We obviously want to be higher, but as one of the newest franchises, only being 25 and a half years old, 26 years old, this coming season, we’re a little bit behind some of the iconic franchises in the NFL. So for us to outperform all of those franchises in terms of engagements and impressions and things like that for the schedule release was quite an honor. What we did this year. So we have this running joke with schedule release that every year we’re trying to brainstorm a new concept, a new idea, something that’s going to catch people’s attention”.
  3. On his advice to any teams looking to offset losses in ticket sales due to COVID-19: “Honestly, it’s the number one thing that we’ve talked about the last two and a half, three months. There’s a chance that football comes back without fans in the stadium. And how do you make up for the loss of revenue between the ticket sales and the sponsorship revenue of the ads that go on in stadium? And so, we’ve become a social and digital company overnight. We immediately, when COVID hit, started to think of alternate content that would be highly engaging for our fans and sponsorable. So we came out within the first couple of weeks with something called 904 Workouts, which was our strength and conditioning coach teaching at home workouts with his daughter. So his daughter happens to be a part time employee on our staff and she was the guinea pig who did the workouts and our strength and conditioning coach was teaching our fans with three or four minute workouts exactly what you could do from your own backyard using nothing but stuff that you would find at your house”.
  4. On the new things his team is doing to offset losses in ticket sales: “And now we have 95 to 100 people all working down this parallel path of trying to create great new content. And so some of the themes that we’re looking at, or some of the types of content or podcasts, photography, video, radio, TV shows, games, print articles, and interviews. And from a schematic standpoint, it’s things like behind the scenes, exclusive, lifestyle, game day entertainment. If there’s no fans in the bowl. Educational, we launched our kid’s corner, while we’re here, what can we do with local kids? And then fan focused and community focused types of content. And so we’re in the early stages now of building out all kinds of new pieces of content. And content can be, like I mentioned, it doesn’t have to be video. It could be print, it could be podcasts, like we’re on here. It could be anything that entertains. And our goal is to come out with all of these so that we have new sponsorship revenue opportunities to provide for our sponsorship team who might not be able to make revenue for having in bowl signage this year. And bowl signage makes up a huge portion of the revenue every year.”.
  5. On the various scenarios and respective tactics that the Jags and his team are exploring at the moment: “We’re trying to look at the world in three different ways. There’s the no fans in the stadium, there’s some amount of fans, 25 to 50% of fans in the stadium, or, God-willing, full stadiums. And we’re trying to plan accordingly to those different scenarios. And so some of this content will happen no matter what, because it really just brought great ideas to the forefront. And some of it is more dependent on what is the world looking like in three or four months when the football season is supposed to start. If we know that our fans are not in the bowl, but are at home, how can we create a full second screen experience that makes them feel like they’re in the bowl. Could we have the prompts play on their app, where we’re getting people excited or streaming Duvall, or having players jump into their app and wave their hands up in the air like we would in bowl to recreate what they’re missing not being there. So those are things that we are really, really trying to get after and plan accordingly. It’s been a fun challenge. It has added seven, eight hours of meetings each week over the last couple of weeks and moving forward. But it’s what has to be done right now just given the uncertainty of the sports landscape”.
  6. On his experience going through his first NFL virtual draft: “The virtual draft was something that none of us had ever experienced before, obviously. It was incredibly nerve wracking going into it just because there was so much unknown. Was the technology going to work? Was everyone going to be able to communicate? And look, I’m not on the football side, so their experience was different. I wasn’t at the home of Dave Caldwell, our GM, or Coach Morone, our head coach. They were dealing with their own stresses. But for us, we went from having a party every year at our facility where we have 10 to 12,000 people to trying to figure out how we could do that virtually. So how do we create a virtual party to get people excited for the draft?”.
  7. On the NFL virtual draft and what they did such as bringing in influencers and interviewing coaches and players during the NFL Virtual draft: “ We didn’t know if it was going to work or how it would go, or if people would want it tune in. And we were thrilled when we were able to produce our first ever IG Live show. We brought in a local entertainer/influencer who happens to be a huge Jags fan. And he interviewed our coach, different players as they were getting ready for the draft. And it was really well received. It went off as well as we could’ve hoped. There were a technical glitch here and there where he wasn’t able to bring a guest on when we wanted him, because the IG Live wouldn’t allow it. But that’s the fun that you have flying by the seat of your pants in this digital age, which is so different. But it did take a lot of preparation”.
  8. On how his team prepared for the virtual NFL draft: “I will say we did more practicing and prepping for that weekend than ever before. We also made sure that everyone had very specific defined jobs because we were all in our homes. So funny enough, like I don’t usually have kind of a in the weeds job on draft day. This year, my job was to literally watch every minute of draft coverage on ESPN and NFL Network so that I could pull quotes from the air that I could get over to our graphics team, that they could put on our IG graphics within an hour of that being drafted. Other people were pulling stats, other people were doing the interviews, other people work designing and creating. And we had five different designers working on different mediums, whether it’s Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook or YouTube. So it was a full team effort. Everyone was working the entire draft. And it really went off better than we could have ever hoped, but I think it was all based on the preparation we put into it”.
  9. On his clubs’ goal for this year: “Goal number one is to try to be as flat to our revenue goals as possible. We all know we’re not going to exceed those goals this year, but we’re trying to save as much as we can. The goal of this company was to keep everyone employed and I’m so thankful for the club that we have not had any layoffs, nobody has lost their job during this time, which is different than what a lot of people can say. And that’s been our number one goal. And so as we go into the year, we’ve got to try to make up the revenue. This is why we’re trying to be creative with how we do it. I would say another one of our goals is to constantly entertain our fans. That’s the same every year, but how we go about doing it might be different. So this year we’re going to watch predictive gaming and we’re going to come out with three games. That’s a project that I’m leading and I am incredibly excited to be heading up. We’re going to hopefully add AR to our app. We are doing all these things with the goal of entertaining and with the thought that we might need to entertain them on their phone or on their computer instead in the bowl. So that’s what we have in our mindset and to give people an escape too. If people want the news and they want to go through and know everything that’s going on in the world, that’s up to them and we encourage it, but we want to be an escape to them at a time where there are no sports to escape to. So we’re trying to keep that in our framework as well”.
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