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Latest tech in Sports? Robotic Digital autographs for fans. Ferrari Enters Esport.

Latest tech in Sports? Robotic Digital autographs for fans. Ferrari Enters Esport.

Dear Colleague,

Last week, the NBA season officially resumed in Orlando with most players taking a knee in support for the Black Lives Matters movement. The NFL is now planning to allow players to have decal stickers on the back of their helmets bearing names or initials of victims of systemic racism and police violence.

Formula 1 also canceled any plans of staging races in the US, Mexico and Brazil due to the growing coronavirus pandemic in the Americas, as confirmed by the competition. Speaking of F1, Ferrari officially entered the esport market and is now inviting fans to join its esports academy. In the US, the Southeastern Conference now plans for a 10-game conference-only football schedule this fall. Of note, the Power 5 schools are now expected to lose an average of $18.6M in ticket sales this year.

Teams continue to be hit by COVID-19. The latest team? The Marlins (MLB). At least 4 players from the Marlins tested positive for COVID-19, joining at least a dozen others within the organization. To prevent COVID-19 and improve safety, fans of LAFC, a top MLS team, will next year be able to use an app called Clear, made by Alclear and used by some airline passengers to speed through security checks by presenting their fingerprints or showing their faces.

Speaking of COVID-19, the cost of COVID-19 has affected the brand value of multiple football clubs with the top 50 teams losing a total of $884M in value, according to the latest Brand Finance Football Annual report. It is also estimated that the NHL has brought in $3.9B in revenue so far this season, compared to more than $5 billion last season. The good news here is that most major sports leagues (NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, Premier league, Laliga, Ligue 1, Series A..) have already restarted their seasons and are receiving money from TV rights. This is a tremendous help as it will help them offset any losses occurred due to COVID-19 due to losses in ticket sales.

For the fifth straight year, the Dallas Cowboys top Forbes’ list of the most valuable teams in sports and is valued at $5.5B. Chiefs NFL Quarterback Patrick Mahomes also became part of the Kansas City Royals ownership group last week.

In the world of AR/VR and digital, Snap launched a new mobile AR experience in Orlando, FL. Bayern Munich also launched robotic digital autograph sessions in association with Audi. Microsoft Corp is also in talks to buy TikTok, the New York Times reported on Friday, citing a source. In the wearable and connected fitness world, dates around the launch of the Apple Watch Series 6 have surfaced. Huawei Watch GT2 Pro is also rumored to be launching next month with a voice assistant. Fitbit owners can now help create a test to detect early signs of COVID-19. In the world of esport, Former NBA Player Marcin Gortat invested in the Polish Esports League while NHL Maple Leafs’ Mitch Marner is now part of OverActive Media ownership Group.


Aa a reminder, we are now launching our new Upside Global platform to bring together our sports, tech & health community of 2,500 executives under a single web platform. Members include executives from the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, MLB, Laliga, English Premiere League, Ligue 1, Bundesliga, Series A, Brazilian soccer league, Olympic teams, Pro tennis, as well as representatives of startups, brands, VCs, and athletes.

If you are a head athletic trainer, CTO, CMO of a major sports team or league looking to connect with the most innovative startups or connect with your peers to network, or if you are a startup CEO looking to connect with top teams or investors, you can join our Upside community of executives from the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, MLB, Laliga, English Premiere League, Olympic teams, top VCs, startups (AR, VR, wearables, sleep tech..) and more!

Your opportunity for growth starts now, create your free executive profile today to join our online community and click on “become a member today” as a first step. It is free to join! It only take one minute to create your profile.

Join the Upside online community

If you face any problems during the registration process, please click on the live support button on our website.


📰 Top Stories We’re Reading This Week 

🏀  Snap launches new mobile AR experience with the NBA

🤖 Bayern Munich launches robotic digital autograph sessions Audi in China

⌚ Apple Watch Series 6 release date rumored

⌚ Huawei Watch GT2 Pro could launch next month with voice assistant

⌚ Fitbit owners to help create a test to detect early signs of COVID-19

🎮 Former NBA Player Marcin Gortat Invests in Polish Esports League

🎮 NHL Maple Leafs’ Mitch Marner Now Part of OverActive Media Ownership Group

💸 Latest Investment Trends

📊 Tech Stats of the Week

📸 Snapshots of the Week

Let’s jump right into the insights and upside for all of these top stories


🎮 AR/VR/Video/Digital Sports News

🏀  Snap launches new mobile AR experience with the NBA

At the NBA tournament in Orlando, Snap unveiled a new AR experience with The NBA.

“With the NBA season returning tonight, we’re excited to give fans the opportunity to bring the court from Orlando into their living rooms. Hugely proud of this collaboration with our friends at the NBA- check out this unique AR experience on Snap!”, said Anmol Malhotra, head of sports partnerships at Snap.

Snap is introducing this in Orlando where the NBA season is resuming and games are played without fans in stadiums. Sports has become a key focus for Snap which has teamed up with some of the biggest sports brands and athletes in the world. In fact, in 2019 it teamed up with Lebron James and launched a fresh in-store AR advertisement for Snap.  According to a Snap spokesperson, a video of the augmented reality experience shared by James on Twitter acquired over 1.25M views via his tweet itself.

⬆️ The Upside:  This is a great move by the NBA. As noted above, Snap has done a great job partnering with major sports brands and athletes to create these types of mobile AR experience. Of note, mobile AR reached in revenue $3 billion globally in 2018, driven by appstore revenues (primarily Pokémon Go), adspend (e.g. from mobile AR features in messaging apps) and eCommerce sales (e.g. Houzz delivering 11x sales uplift). Mobile AR installed base (i.e. configured devices) grew more slowly than anticipated to over 850M globally. Ultimately, we expect more leagues and teams to jump on the bandwagon as it is part of teams’ and leagues’ strategy to offer new types of mobile AR experiences. You can check out our latest analysis on the sports AR market, ecosystem, vendors and experiences here.

Picture: NBA, Snap

🤖 Bayern Munich launches robotic digital autograph sessions Audi in China

Last week, Bayern Munich announced its first-ever Audi Digital Summer Tour. The goal? Connecting FC Bayern München and their fans from July 25 to August 2 via a digital experience. The club and its stars will get close to their global fans via digital platforms with (live-) content, virtual fan challenges and interactions. One of the main highlights: The digital autograph sessions! The Robograph is programmed to “hand sign” the autographs of 19 different FC Bayern players like Thomas Müller and Leon Goretzka. The fans in China can also join them at the Audi stand at the #Chengdu Motor.

⬆️ The Upside:  Using a robotic arm to help create players’ digital autographs for fans is an innovative experience. Plus it is a win win for both parties. Audi, on one hand, can leverage its expertise in robotics while Bayern Munich can continue to engage with its fans while limiting contacts between players and fans during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is worth pointing out that over the past few months during the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen a number of teams using robots: For example the Rakuten Monkeys, a Chinese Professional Baseball League team, had robot mannequins fill in as fans at games. Now will this become a major new trend among pro teams? It is still too soon to tell.

Picture: Bayern Munich, Audi


🚑 Wearables, Health, Nutrition News

⌚ Apple Watch Series 6 release date rumored  | Via: Wearable

Rumours that the Apple Watch Series 6 could launch on 8 September with the Apple Glass AR specs appears to be fake – after it was widely reported by the Apple press.
At Wareable we’ve been assuming that the new Series 6 would follow Apple’s tradition of unveiling its smartwatch in early-September, but in this topsy-turvy post-Covid world, that was no longer a given. So-called tipster Hacktu Pro tweeted that the Apple event will take place on 8 April – and alleged that Apple Glass could join it. But the tweet has since been deleted.

We called into doubt the accounts’ reliability, although predicting a September release for the Apple Watch isn’t exactly a major revelation. Every Apple Watch has been outed in September, even though we were made to wait until April for the original. But the tipster got tongues wagging after hinting that Apple Glass – the long-rumored AR specs – could show up. While this seemed extremely unlikely, it did get us thinking about whether Apple’s AR specs could get an outing this year. Prominent Apple observer Jon Prosser has said that Apple Glass is headed for a 2020 release, even if it won’t be available to buy until 2021. However, previous rumors have suggested that the release date could be 2022 and that the project had been shelved altogether. Given the AR wearables market just hasn’t kicked off in any meaningful way and with zero consumer expectations, we’d still be surprised to see Apple take the plunge at this stage.

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe that Apple needs to push the boundaries in terms of innovation with the new Apple Watch 6 series. So far Apple has added incremental improvements to the Apple Watch but it needs to beak that cycle and offer truly innovative biosensing capabilities like hydration assessment,BP monitoring, contactless biosensors and more. Now Apple filed a patent recently around a concept that would allow the Apple Watch to add new sensing capabilities as part of a modular approach. We believe that this is the type of thing that Apple needs to focus on if it wants to sustain its lead in the smartwatch market. You can check out our analysis on the contactless biosensor market here.

⌚ Huawei Watch GT2 Pro could launch next month with voice assistant | Via: Wearable

We’ve had an inkling a new Huawei Watch GT could be in the works, and sure enough a certification has just passed through a key regulator. A Huawei Watch GT2 Pro and Honor Watch GS Pro (these two brands usually come in pairs with near identical specs) were spotted at the EEC (Eurasian Electronic Commission). It was tipped on Weibo and then shared by Huawei Central and Notebook Check. They also revealed that a new Honor Band 6 could join the line-up. Details are scarce but it is possible to join a few dots, which could give us a clue to what’s in store. Firstly, the Huawei Watch GT2 was launched last September, and while the GT2e upgrade was launched earlier this year, it was merely a sportier design. So a September 2020 launch does make sense. And the launch of the GT2 Pro could tie in with a story Wareable broke last week of Huawei rolling out its Celia voice assistant on Huawei Watch models, and that the announcement could tie in with the launch of a new smartwatch. Other than that we don’t have much to go on, but given the Oppo Watch has just been announced globally, and we’re about to get a Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, things are getting mighty interesting in the Android watch world.

What’s more, a new GT2 isn’t even the most exciting announcement on the Huawei radar. We reported that a new Huawei Mate watch is in the works, which could be a more high-end foil to the sporty, budget Huawei Watch range. That’s rumored for an October reveal, alongside the Mate 40 smartphone. Watch this space.

⬆️ The Upside:  This should not come as a surprise to see Huawei launching a smart watch with a voice assistant. Many watches already have a voice assistant these days starting with the Apple Watch. But our belief is that few people use voice commands on smartwatches. Voice commands only make sense for specific use cases where a handsfree environment is required. What Huawei needs to focus on adding new biosensing capabilities (e.g. hydration, BP monitoring..) to be able to take share away from Apple in the wearable fitness space.

⌚ Fitbit owners to help create a test to detect early signs of COVID-19 | Via: Wareable

Fitbit’s fitness trackers and smartwatches could prove pivotal to detecting the early signs of Covid-19. Owners of one of Fitbit’s wearables are being recruited in multiple studies, at the COVID-Collab research team at King’s College London, the Scripps Research Translational Institute and the Stanford Medicine Healthcare Innovation Lab in the US. The Mass Science app from Kings College is designed to monitor wearables devices – including those by Fitbit – and aims to match Covid symptoms to data such as heart rate as well as sleep and activity. While having a Fitbit device isn’t essential to enrolling in the study, the team behind the app believes the data provided by those trackers and watches could offer vital insights. The goal is to collate enough of that data to analyse and compare data from periods of illness with normal healthy periods, it could potentially create a useful test that can be used for early warning signs of Covid-19 and to develop a better idea of how the disease spreads. It’s also hoped harnessing this data could be a viable solution to track the disease nationally or locally, understand the most important symptoms and learn more about social distancing measures and how they can affect transmission rate. Throughout the pandemic, researchers have looked to the role wearables could play in the fight against Covid. Whether that’s improving the testing process or helping with the early detection of the disease. In May, Fitbit launched a COVID-19 Study that owners of its devices could access from within its companion smartphone app.

Other wearable makers have been trying to do their bit too. Ava, makers of a fertility wearable felt it could play its part in filling the gaps in the Covid-19 testing process. The Oura smart ring is also being used in studies to see whether the wearable could be used to detect early signs of the disease. It’s also being used by the NBA as a way to help keep track of player vitals, so the season can be safely started. A similar idea is happening for PGA Tour players and staff who have been given a Whoop Strap to help detect symptoms and prevent the disease spreading. The latest development with the COVID-Collab and its move to embrace Fitbit data is another sign that with more people now than ever wearing fitness trackers and smartwatches, they could be key to quickly learning more about coronavirus. The Mass Science app is free to download now for Android phones and iPhones. So if you own a Fitbit and fancy doing your bit, you know what to do.

⬆️ The Upside:  This is part of a big trend where many wearable vendors (smartwatch, smart patch, smart ring..) have pivoted and tweaked their message to offer specific products to help detect Covid-19 at early stage. Generally speaking changes in HR, core body temperature, sleep can be early indicators of Covid-19 symptoms. These vendors have jumped on the bandwagon in an attempt to drive additional sales. In fact, wew deployments and studies during the pandemic will boost the healthcare wearables market (which includes connected blood pressure monitors, continuous glucose monitors, pulse oximeters, and electrocardiogram monitors) to 30 million shipments in 2020, increasing to 104 million shipments in 2025, at a CAGR of 28.5%, states global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research.

Fitbit smartwatches to be used to detect early signs of COVID-19


🎮 Esports & Crypto-Currency News

🎮 Ferrari Unveils Huge Esports Championship–And You Could Be Its Next Driver | Via: Forbes

Ferrari is looking to pave its own way in the esports sector by launching its own sim racing series in which racers will have the chance to be a part of Ferrari Driver Academy Hublot Esports, the firm’s own competitive gaming team. The car manufacturer has already announced that watch firm Hublot will be the title sponsor of the competition, with Thrustmaster also confirmed as a technical partner.

Nicola Boari, Chief Brand Diversification Officer at Ferrari, stated: “The launch of the Ferrari Hublot Esports Series is a natural progression for Ferrari after our debut in the F1 Esports Series. This series is aimed at a young audience and is the perfect opportunity for aspiring players to get their break in esports and sim racing.”

The Ferrari Hublot Esports Series will be initially split into two competitions and mature series and a pro series.  The amateur championship registration is open on August 7 with the opening round scheduled to take place some time in September, the tournament is also only exclusive to European citizens over the age of 18. Ferrari’s pro series will feature competitive sim racers who will be selected by the manufacturer themselves. The top 12 drivers from each competition will then face off against each other in November for a chance to be included in the firm’s esports team. The new series highlights Ferrari’s intention to further develop its esports department following the manufacturers impressive debut season in the F1 Esports Series last year.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe this is a great move by Ferrari as Virtual Grand Prix Series recently hit an enormous 30 million views across TV and digital platforms during the lockdown period. The series was created to enable fans to continue watching Formula 1 races virtually during the ongoing COVID-19. Ferrari is trying to continue to take advantage of the fast growing esport market. Now Ferrari is not the first F1 team to do this type of esport academy. McLaren (F1) launched a similar initiative a few years ago. We expect other F1 teams to follow suit in the coming months.

Video: Ferrari

🎮 Former NBA Player Marcin Gortat Invests in Polish Esports League | Via: Esports Observer

Polish esports company Polska Liga Esportowa S.A. announced an investment by former NBA player Marcin Gortat, who created his private foundation, “Fundacja Marcina Gortata MG13,” in 2009 to support young sports talents in Poland. While financial terms of the investment were not disclosed, a spokesperson for the company said the investment is rumored to be a five-figure to small six-figure deal. Polska Liga Esportowa, which is run by its CEO Paweł Kowalczyk, who previously implemented esports formats as head of esports at Ringier Axel Springer Polska, runs the Polish Esports League (PEL), a format that was established three years ago. Previous winners of PEL’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive leagues include Virtus.pro and Team Kinguin.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe this is a great move by former NBA player Marcin Gortat. He can leverage its notoriety to help attract young polish esport gamers. This is also part of a larger trend where we have seen many athletes invest and endorse esports ventures starting with Steph Curry, Shaq, Serena Williams and many others.

🎮 NHL Maple Leafs’ Mitch Marner Now Part of OverActive Media Ownership Group | Via: Esports Observer

Toronto Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner has joined OverActive Media’sownership group. As a new member of the ownership group Marner will become an “integral part” of team-brand building and esports promotion for the company.

“We are building a leading 21st-century sports media and entertainment company that speaks to a new generation of fans. An authentic and compelling business model that rests at the intersection of sport, media/entertainment and esports is core to our strategy at OverActive Media,” OverActive Media CEO Chris Overholt told The Esports Observer. “This generation of fans think differently about how they connect to their heroes and the influencers they love. Our sustained success will rest in our ability to deliver innovative marketing and partnership collaborations like Mitch represents.”

⬆️ The Upside: We believe this is a great move by NHL player Mitch Marner. He can leverage its notoriety to help drive the popularity of this esport venture. Like most athletes entering esport, their goal is to get a good ROI. Of note, according to the source’s estimates, global eSports market revenue will reach almost 1.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2023. The eSports industry is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years.


💸 Sports Tech & Health Investment (Fund raising, M&As) Trends — August 2020


📊 Key Tech & Biz Sports Stats of The Week

$5.5B: For the fifth straight year, the Dallas Cowboys top Forbes’ list of the most valuable teams in sports.

$3.9B: It is estimated that the NHL has brought in $3.9 billion in revenue so far this season, compared to more than $5 billion last season.

$884M: The cost of COVID-19 has severely affected the brand value of multiple football clubs with the top 50 teams losing a total of $884M in value, according to the latest Brand Finance Football Annual report.

$800M: Nearly $800M in ad revenue is at stake for ESPN and ABC as the college football season remains in flux. While conferences are rolling out their football plans, the season is still on shaky ground as COVID-19 cases spread on campuses even before the semester starts.

At Risk For ESPN and Parent Company Disney: 

— $793 million: Ad revenue for ESPN and ABC family of networks from college football in 2019.

— $345 million: Ad revenue from postseason bowl games for ESPN and ABC.

— 14%: Cable subscribers who would likely cancel without college football.

— $10 billion: Subscriber fees from ESPN-related channels in 2019.

$615M: According to a report by marketing intelligence service WARC , Esports sponsorship predicted to reach $615M in 2020.

$320M: Dealing with cancelations across sports, ESPN could see a 12%, or $320 million, advertising revenue dip by the end of the year.

$55.7M: WWE posted a better-than-expected $55.7 million in operating income in its second quarter as lower operating costs helped minimize a decline in revenue due to a loss of live events. The company said it had $223.4 million in revenue in the quarter, down 17% from $268.9 million a year earlier. Despite a lack of competition from live sports, WWE’s Raw averaged 500,000 fewer viewers in the second quarter than the same period last year, and 1.1 million less than 2018. WWE’s stock price had declined nearly 30% in 2020 as of Thursday’s market close.

$18.6M: Even with a season, Power 5 schools are expected to lose an average of $18.6 million in ticket sales. But playing will be critical for the SEC schools to maintain their TV payouts, which made up a large chunk of the $44.6 million distributed to each program last year. Seventy percent of 116 college athletics administrators believe they will lose at least 20% of their revenue in the 2020-21 school year.

100%: In its earnings call, EA highlighted several milestones for its game metrics, including FIFA 20 player acquisition increasing by more than 100% year-over-year, Madden NFL 20 growing nearly 140% in the same metric, and Apex Legends newly launched Season 5 reached the game’s highest engagement levels since Season 1.

14: Arsenal FC won their 14th FA cup this weekend, following their 2-1 win against Chelsea FC.


📸 The Upside: Snapshots & video of The Week.

NFL & Black Lives Matters: The NFL is planning to allow players to have decal stickers on the back of their helmets bearing names or initials of victims of systemic racism and police violence.

 

NFL to Keep Tracking Data in Helmets, Cleats and Mouthguards amid COVID-19. MLB Betting Up 55%+? Join our New Upside Online community!

NFL to Keep Tracking Data in Helmets, Cleats and Mouthguards amid COVID-19. MLB Betting Up 55%+? Join our New Upside Online community!

Dear Colleague,

Last week many sports leagues were back in action with the NBA, MLB, and WNBA resuming their respective seasons. The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) also announced that Los Angeles acquired a NWSL team, after a majority woman-founded group secured exclusive rights to bring a professional women’s soccer team to the city.  The group which has named itself “Angel City” is led by actress Natalie Portman, technology venture capitalist Kara Nortman, media and gaming entrepreneur Julie Uhrman, and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. Moreover, its investors include Serena Williams, Netflix VP Original Content Cindy Holland, FIFA World Cup Champions Lauren Cheney Holiday and Abby Wambach and a multitude of former US Women’s National Team players among others. Los Angeles will officially be integrated into the NWSL in spring 2022. When it comes to the MLB, Fox plans to use virtual fans to fill out stands to make its MLB broadcasts look as natural as possible. MLB has also distributed roughly 75 different sound effects pulled from Sony’s MLB. MLS betting is also expected to increase by 55% due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, the MLS also announced a new MLS team in Charlotte, N.C. called Charlotte FC. The team, owned by Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, begins play in 2022. In the NHL, the NHL’s newest expansion franchise in Seattle announced a name: Kraken. The Kraken will begin play in the 2021-22 NHL season. UBS also secured the naming rights to the New York Islanders’ new $1.5 billion arena in a 20-year deal. In the NFL, the Washington NFL franchise also announced on Twitter it’s changing its name, for now, to the “Washington Football Team.”

In the world of AR/VR and digital, the NBA used Microsoft Teams to bring basketball fans courtside. Some researchers also unveiled FingerTrak, a hand tracking wristband for AR/VR input. The MLB also plans to use virtual fans on live TV thanks to Fox Sports. In the wearable and connected fitness world, the NFL will continue data tracking in helmets, cleats and mouthguards amid COVID-19. The Oppo Watch also launched in Germany with global release imminent while the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 will be unveiled on 5 August. MyCoach also teamed up with GPS vendor MacLloyd. In the world of esport, Real Madrid and Arsenal teamed up with Twitch to launch a sports channel.


Aa a reminder, we are now launching our new Upside Global platform to bring together our sports, tech & health community of 2,500 executives under a single web platform. Members include executives from the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, MLB, Laliga, English Premiere League, Ligue 1, Bundesliga, Series A, Brazilian soccer league, Olympic teams, Pro tennis, as well as representatives of startups, brands, VCs, and athletes.

As a startup, have you ever wondered how a company gets their product in front of national sports teams or even land military contracts?

You and your startup can join a community of executives from the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, MLB, Laliga, English Premiere League, Olympic teams, and more!

Your opportunity for growth starts now, create your free executive profile today to join our online community and click on “become a member today” as a first step.

Become a member today

If you face any problems during the registration process, please click on the live support button on our website.


📰 Top Stories We’re Reading This Week 

🏀  The NBA is using Microsoft Teams to bring basketball fans courtside

👓 Researchers show FingerTrak, a hand tracking wristband for AR/VR input

⚾  LOOK: Virtual fans will be on some MLB television broadcasts and here’s a first look

⌚ The Oppo Watch launches in Germany with global release imminent

⌚ Samsung Galaxy Watch 3: smartwatch will be unveiled on 5 August

⌚ MyCoach teams up with MacLloyd

🎮 Real Madrid and Arsenal on board as Twitch launches sports channel

💸 Latest Investment Trends

📊 Tech Stats of the Week

📸 Snapshots of the Week

Let’s jump right into the insights and upside for all of these top stories


🎮 AR/VR/Video/Digital Sports News

🏀  The NBA is using Microsoft Teams to bring basketball fans courtside | Via: The Verge

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is using Microsoft Teams’ new Together Mode to place basketball fans courtside in a virtual experience during live games. Microsoft only just revealed Together Mode for Teams earlier this month, and it uses AI to segment your face and shoulders and place you together with other people in a virtual space. The NBA is using this new Microsoft Teams mode combined with 17-foot tall LED screens that will wrap around basketball arenas to put fans back next to players. Fans will be able to react in real time, and players will be able to see and hear those reactions. These virtual stands will include more than 300 fans using Together Mode to sit side by side with each other virtually in Microsoft Teams. Fans will be able to watch a live feed of the game within Teams alongside a view of each other.

“This new experience—the first to go live as a result of the NBA / Microsoft partnership — gives participating fans the feeling of sitting next to one another at a live game without leaving the comfort and safety of their homes,” explains Jared Spataro, head of Microsoft 365. “Players, meanwhile, will experience their energy and support as they dribble down the court and see fans’ real-time reaction. And viewers tuning into the game from home will feel the crowd’s energy as well as they see the virtual stands filled with fans.”

There’s obviously a lot of potential for abuse if fans suddenly go rogue during the sessions. Thankfully, the NBA will have members participating in the calls and will remove any participants who behave inappropriately or disrupt the experience. Broadcasters ESPN and Turner Sports are also repositioning cameras to include new angles for fans watching at home, and microphones around the court will capture the sneaker squeaks and ball bounces we’re used to hearing. Alongside the Microsoft Teams experience, fans will also be able to cheer virtually using the NBA app. These virtual cheers will appear on video boards during games with animations. The NBA’s work with Microsoft is all part of a strategic alliance that the pair formed earlier this year. Microsoft signed a multiyear deal with the NBA to become the official AI, cloud, and laptop provider for the league. This is the first big example of the deal, and we’ll also see the NBA using Microsoft’s Azure platform to broadcast live and on-demand basketball games, with personalized content.

⬆️ The Upside:  This is a great move by the NBA. This type of courtside experience has been done before. As we noted previously, some Danish soccer teams have teamed up with Zoom to offer a similar fans experience. We expect more leagues and teams to jump on the bandwagon as it is part of teams’ and leagues’ strategy to offer new types of experiences due to COVID-19 . You can check out our analysis on technologies that can help teams and leagues during COVID-19 pandemic here.

Picture: NBA

👓 Researchers show FingerTrak, a hand tracking wristband for AR/VR input | Via: VentureBeat

As virtual and augmented reality steadily advance in both visual fidelity and headset comfort, researchers continue to work on input solutions that will feel more natural than holding controllers. Today, a group of researchers announced FingerTrak, a wristband-based solution that uses thermal cameras to track hand movements in 3D, abstracting 20 finger joint positions from contours on the wearer’s wrist.

Developed by Cornell University’s SciFi Lab with assistance from University of Wisconsin, Madison researchers, FingerTrak uses a deep neural network to stitch together input from three or four miniature thermal cameras mounted around the wrist, collectively capturing an entire hand pose. Using silhouettes generated by the cameras, backbone and regression networks estimate fingertip and joint positions, and though the results aren’t perfect, they could be used for some forms of VR and AR input. Other potential applications for FingerTrak include human-robot interaction and control, sign language translation, and mobile health, including early detection of degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Interestingly, the researchers suggest that wrist contours alone are “enough to accurately predict the entire hand posture,” enabling the entire sensing system to be placed on the wrist, rather than requiring glovesrings, or other techniques that have previously been released. A demonstration video shows FingerTrak’s hand motion tracking translating into movements for a bionic hand, as well as enabling a computer to determine when a user is writing, drinking coffee, and interacting with a smartphone.

FingerTrak will be presented in mid-September at the 2020 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing. The underlying paper, “FingerTrak: Continuous 3D Hand Pose Tracking by Deep Learning Hand Silhouettes Captured by Miniature Thermal Cameras on Wrist,” is available here.

⬆️ The Upside:  Wrist-mounted cameras could augment the inside-out tracking cameras found in VR headsets such as Oculus Quest, which monitor hand and finger positions from the user’s head. In prototype form, FingerTrak is already pretty small, and it could easily go smaller with further engineering. To learn more about VR training systems or VR in sports in general please check out our VR sports market analysis here.

⚾  LOOK: Virtual fans will be on some MLB television broadcasts and here’s a first look | Via: CBSSPORTS.COM

Baseball fans started off wondering if the game would even return after the stoppage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, now that it’s back on, we are wondering how they will handle the shift to empty stadiums. Athletes are used to — and thrive off, the hype created by a crowd, and with that gone the dynamic of the game and broadcast changes.

Will there be crowd noise pumped in? Cardboard cutouts of fans? Well, for a select number of broadcasts, virtual fans will be in the seats. Here’s a first look at these virtual fans, that will be used in Fox Sports MLB television broadcasts: It’s reminiscent of a video game and the fans do look rather realistic based on the preview. These fans will boo, cheer and from what it seems, do the wave as well. They are wearing team apparel and colors to make it look even more real. The MLB season returned last week with the defending World Series Champion Washington Nationals hosting the New York Yankees to kick off Opening Day followed by the Los Angeles Dodgers hosting the San Francisco Giants.

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe that this is a great move by Fox Sports and the MLB. It will enable MLB teams to enhance the fans viewing experience. The MLB is the first sports league to use virtual fans in stadiums this way but they are not the first sports league to use crowd noises in stadiums. In fact the Bundesliga and Premier league used a similar strategy in the past month. Overall this is part of leagues’s overall strategy to keep fans stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can check out our analysis on technologies that can help teams and leagues during COVID-19 pandemic here.

Picture: Fox Sports


🚑 Wearables, Health, Nutrition News

⌚ NFL to continue data tracking in helmets, cleats and mouthguards amid COVID-19 | Via: Wearable

With the rightful focus on the NFL’s COVID-19 emergency protocols and comprehensive plans that the NFL and NFLPA are developing to keep players safe during this pandemic, it is easy to overlook the long-term health and safety testing the league annually undertakes. And no, it is not going on hiatus this season, though the pandemic is affecting the number of teams that may participate in certain safety tests.
The league is expanding to as many as 24 teams that will have their cleats automatically tracked (compared to eight last year), and as many as 16 teams testing mouthguard sensors (up from four). And the NFL is pushing forward on developing helmets for specific positions, with some players possibly wearing them as soon as next season. For the past several years, affixed to the wall of NFL locker rooms is a chart ranking helmets by safety, and the league now boasts that 100 percent of players are wearing helmets that pass NFL safety tests, with 99 percent of…

“As we have done very well with helmets and concussions, (we are) taking a look at the on-field occurrence per cleat, what is the injury rate per cleat, and tie that to the laboratory performance testing, which was done this year, but again, it’s one year of analysis,” said Langton, who herself blew out her knee as a lacrosse player in college at the University of Virginia. “So we are full-steam ahead for this year.”

⬆️ The Upside:  We think this is a great move by the NFL during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is part of the NFL’s plan to make the league safer. Of note, the NFL uses systems like Zebra’s RFID / UWB system to track players’ speed, location and acceleration. It also announced its plan to use a face shields during NFL game. You can check out our latest analysis on Sports leagues’ regulation towards wearables here.

⌚ The Oppo Watch launches in Germany with global release imminent | Via: Wearable

The Oppo Watch has been on sale in China since its launch back in March – and now it’s landing globally. The smartwatch has now gone on sale in Germany, and will be imminently released elsewhere in Europe and the US. At the company’s event on 6 March, but the Oppo Watch was only announced for the Chinese market – and company spokesperson said on stage in the Western presentation that the “Oppo Watch deserved its own event, so you will have to wait.” It was clear that in the wake of the global pandemic, Oppo was scaling back its ambitions. So while the Oppo Watch seems unlikely to get the event we were promised, it’s at least getting a global release. Yes it’s a massive Apple Watch clone – just look at the examples above with the silicone sports bands – absolutely shameless stuff. We doubt most people would be able to tell the difference. But look under the hood, and there’s a serious amount of technology, innovation and features. It has a curved AMOLED display, and ships in 1.6-inch and 1.9-inch sizes – that’s roughly 41mm and 46mm – so quite a difference between the two. It will have a decent specced 326ppi resolution, so it looks pretty smart. It’s also waterproof to 50 metres.

It uses a Snapdragon Wear 2500 processor, which is slightly dated given Qualcomm just announced the Wear 4100. But Oppo still promises 40 hours of battery life, with fast charging offering 18 hours battery from just 15 minutes on the charger. And the reports were correct: the Oppo Watch has a heart rate monitor and it will take electrocardiogram (ECG) readings – again, just like the Series 5. Like the Xiaomi Mi Watch the Oppo Watch runs WearOS, but uses a customised ColorOS skin on top – so it’s not a vanilla Google experience. And that means Google Pay will feature on the global edition. There’s an eSIM so LTE connectivity is an option.

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe that this new Opportunity watch has interesting specs (HR, ECG..) and a good battery life. But what Oppo needs to do is to focus on adding new biosensing capabilities (e.g. hydration, BP monitoring..) to be able to take share away from Apple in the wearable fitness space.

⌚ Samsung Galaxy Watch 3: smartwatch will be unveiled on 5 August | Via: CBS Sport

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is nearly official, and Samsung is set to update its smartwatch range with its biggest update yet. To catch you up, Samsung’s next smartwatch has widely leaked, and looks set to be called the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3. No, you didn’t miss a generation, but it looks like Samsung will skip on to Watch 3 to avoid confusion with the Galaxy Watch Active 2. And it will be shown off on 5 August at the company’s Unpacked event for the Galaxy Note 3. That was confirmed in a blog post by TM Roh, President and Head of Mobile Communications.

He wrote: “At this summer’s Galaxy Unpacked, we’ll be introducing five new power devices…you will be empowered to live life to the fullest with these devices in your hand (and in your ears, and on your wrist.)” We’ve been writing about the Galaxy Watch 3 since the first rumors emerged, so here we’ve collated every piece of confirmed information, every leak and every rumor together into one place. We know that the new Galaxy Watch is set to shrink in size to 41mm and 45mm case sizes, packs in GPS, heart rate. The original Samsung Galaxy Watch came in 42mm and 46mm sizes – so this is a significant reduction in size. And there are set to be a series of different skews in addition to the two different sizes. We’re set to see silver and black stainless steel cases, and the 41mm version will have a bronze/gold finish. The larger 45mm will also come in a black titanium case option. And each will have Bluetooth (standard) and LTE editions – except the titanium.

⬆️ The Upside:  It will be interesting to see what type of impact COVID-19 will have on the launch of the Galaxy Watch 3 as in-store retail sales likely got impacted by the pandemic due to lower traffic in store. However Samsung is likely to target its existing watch customers to upgrade them to this new watch. It is likely to leverage the rebound in online sales. For example, Best Buy said last Tuesday that it’s brought back about half of its furloughed employees as sales rebound. The retailer said its second-quarter sales are up about 2.5% through July 18, compared with the same period a year prior. That includes sales growth of 2% in the U.S. and about 8% internationally, the company said. Best Buy’s online sales have also jumped by 255% so far in the second quarter, compared with a year ago. It said customers’ purchases of computers, appliances and tablets are driving those sales.

Picture: Samsung

⌚ MyCoach teams up with MacLloyd | Via: tribuca.net

My Coach and McLloyd, in their own way, glorify the know-how made in France in the digital sports sector. And the tandem, derived from Nice and Millau, should smash their individual records. It is the resumption of the entrepreneurial championship on the side of the Allianz Riviera, headquarters of My Coach, a major player in the digitalization of sports through its content, data and other analysis tools capable of increasing performance tenfold. The objective of this recently announced, but already effective, merger: to strengthen the leadership now shared in the sportech market in France. A reinforcement which for the time being does not cross the line of investment, and focuses on the delivery of a more complete, more solid, more agile, and 100% French product. In the long run, the 2 companies could be fully integrated. Initially they are focusing on soccer and rugby, with the Stade Niçois already a partner.

⬆️ The Upside:  We think this is a good partnership for both companies. Mycoach has a strong presence in the world of soccer, especially in France. By fully integrating McLloyd’s data (GPS) into its players’ management system, it will make Mycoach’s offering more appealing to customers. For McLloyd it will enable to company to acquire new customers. So overall it is a win win partnership for both companies. In the coming years, MyCoach is also likely to forge similar partnership with other wearables/hardware companies to acquire new types of biometric and statistical data.


🎮 Esports & Crypto-Currency News

🎮 Real Madrid and Arsenal on board as Twitch launches sports channel | Via: SportsPro

Spanish champions Real Madrid are among four elite European soccer clubs to sign strategic partnerships with Twitch as the global streaming service launches a dedicated sports content channel. The La Liga club will be joined by Italian Serie A leaders Juventus, French champions Paris Saint-Germain and English top-flight outfit Arsenal in expanding their live content on the Amazon-owned platform. Initially, Twitch will collaborate with each club on the production of behind-the-scenes content. As the partnerships progress there is also the potential to showcase live youth and first-team friendly matches on the platform, as well as club press conferences. The concept is designed to help engage younger audiences by leaning on content which provides more interactive viewing experiences.

The strategic partnerships have been confirmed alongside the launch of the Twitch Sports standalone content stream, /twitchsports, which was previously coupled with the platform’s health and fitness segment, which now also takes on its own channel. The deals with the European soccer clubs are also part of a greater push for streaming rights, SportsPro understands. Twitch recently signed a deal to become the National Women’s Soccer League’s (NWSL) exclusive international broadcast partner and is seeking opportunities of a similar stature. Day one of the relaunch will see the Twitch Sports channel showcase a range of live programming, with the likes of the National Basketball Association (NBA), Arsenal, House of Highlights and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) each allocated two-hour time slots to release interactive content. Twitch has previously simulcast live sports content licensed by the Amazon Prime Video over-the-top (OTT) service, including most recently four Premier League matches as part of the resumption of English soccer’s top flight in June.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe this is a great move by Real Madrid, Juventus and PSG. Twitch is more commonly known for esports and gaming, with more than 70 per cent of its audience under the age of 34. That demographic is considered a massive draw for sports properties to attract new fans and also to create branded content opportunities. Other sports properties already using Twitch include the NWSL, which has been live streaming Challenge Cup matches on the platform; the National Hockey League (NHL); the Rugby Football League (RFL); and the UFC. Alongside those major rights holders athletes such as Los Angeles Chargers’ running back Austin Ekeler and Formula One driver Lando Norris also regularly stream on the platform.


💸 Sports Tech & Health Investment (Fund raising, M&As) Trends — July 2020


📊 Key Tech & Biz Sports Stats of The Week

$4B: The NFL could lose up to $4 billion of its annual $15 billion in revenue if fans are not on hand to buy tickets, suites, parking passes, merchandise, and concessions, among other gameday revenues.

$1.7B: The expanded MLB postseason will help maintain the estimated $1.7 billion in national TV media rights revenue MLB receives annually. Offset losses from fans not being in attendance. Forty percent of the league’s $10.7 billion in annual revenue typically comes from game-day revenue, including tickets, concessions, parking, and merchandise.

$1.5B: UBS secured the naming rights to the New York Islanders’ new $1.5 billion arena in a 20-year deal.

$650M: The Kraken, the new NHL team in Seattle, will take the ice in the 2021-2022 NHL season as the league’s 32nd team. It is owned by a group led by financier David Bonderman and movie director Jerry Bruckheimer, who paid an NHL-record $650 million for the expansion spot.

$365M: The Los Angeles Dodgers have signed outfielder Mookie Betts to a 12-year, $365 million extension. It’s the second-largest MLB contract ever, behind the $426.5 million deal Mike Trout signed last spring with the Los Angeles Angels.

$200-$250M: Nike has leaned into its training and exercise apps during the pandemic to connect with at-home athletes – those platforms also have e-commerce tie-ins. Roughly 30% of Nike’s revenue in its last quarter came from digital sales, an increase of 75% year-over-year. These changes will lead to a “net loss of jobs across the company” which will result in a one-time employee termination cost of between $200 to $250 million, Nike said in a statement.

$75M: Coronavirus testing across the proposed season is expected to cost the NFL more than $75 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.

90%: Fox has sold more than 90% of its ad inventory for its MLB games this year, and there’s reportedly a rush to buy space on the regional sports networks that air games. An estimated $217.7 million in advertising is normally spent across Fox, Fox Sports 1, TBS, MLB Network, and ESPN for the 162-game slate. Advertising revenue in May was down 31%, largely because of the lack of sports on TV.

59%: After the pandemic is over, 59% of Americans won’t be renewing their gym memberships, according to a recent survey by TD Ameritrade. While many gyms have been closed the past four months, 56% of respondents have found “more affordable” ways to get their workouts in.

55%+: Sports betting is widely expected to attract a younger, more affluent fanbase, according to the American Gaming Association. With betting expanding across the U.S., the AGA expects MLB will see a 55% increase in baseball bettors.

59: It’s been 59 years since the Tottenham Spurs have won the last Premier League title.


📸 The Upside: Snapshots & video of The Week.

Baseball players taking a knee. During the game between the Yankees and the Washington Nationals MLB players took a knee in support for the Black Lives Matters movement.

🏆 ⚽ 🏀Oura Smart Ring to be part of NBA’s Restart plan? Champions Leagues Is Back! Laliga & EPL See Record Spike in Viewership.

🏆 ⚽ 🏀Oura Smart Ring to be part of NBA’s Restart plan? Champions Leagues Is Back! Laliga & EPL See Record Spike in Viewership.

Dear Friends and Members,

Many sports leagues (Laliga, EPL, Series A, Bundesliga..) are now back in full swing. Not surprisingly, La Liga Santander’s anticipated return on 11 June saw international viewership increase by over 48% for matchday 28, compared to the average matchday figures prior to the competition’s suspension, according to Nielsen sports. The Premier League also saw record viewing. The competition saw a peak audience of 3.4M during Manchester City vs Arsenal across Sky Sports’ platforms. In total Man City’s dominant victory recorded a 94% increase in Premier League viewership compared to the 2019/20 season average. Moreover, the fixture was the most-watched Premier League game in more than three years.

The Champions League is also set to return on August 7th in Lisbon. Stadiums in France will re-open for fans from July 11 as the country continues to lift coronavirus restrictions. There will be up to 5,000 fans who will be allowed in arenas to watch live sport. In addition, the NBA and its players union have come to an agreement that athletes will be tested for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) when the NBA restarts its pandemic interrupted season at Disney World, but not recreational drugs such as cannabis. The National Basketball Players Association (NBAPA) sent a memo to its members detailing its “Life Inside the Bubble” plan. As part of that, NBA players will have the option of wearing two types of wearables. The first is a “proximity alarm” that will notify players if they spend more than five seconds within 6 feet of another person. The second is the Oura Ring, a smart ring that helps track sleep, it does so by also measuring body temperature, respiratory rate, heart rate variability, and resting heart rate. But more importantly it could help detect COVID-19 symptoms. This is unprecedented as the NBA so far has not allowed the use of wearables during live NBA games.

Gym chain 24 Hour Fitness also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last Monday but expects to remain operating – and reopen most of its locations – during the process. The San Ramon, California, chain expects to get $250M in financing to assist in the restructuring of its operations, the company announced Monday.

Facebook committed to donate $200M to Black-owned businesses and organizations, while Netflix CEO Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his wife, Patty Quillin, are donating $120M toward student scholarships at historically black colleges and universities.

In the world of AR/VR and digital, Bose shut down its AR product and Facebook showcased its latest 3D body reconstruction project. In the wearable and connected fitness world, Fitbit Versa 2 is rumored to be soon adding Google Assistant. In the world of esport, the Formula 1 Virtual Grand Prix series achieved a record-breaking viewership with 30M viewers, and PSG entered League of Legends Pacific Championship Series with Talon Esports.

Next week we will unveil a new major Upside initiative that will better bring our sports tech community of thousands of sports tech execs (Pro teams, leagues, sports startups, VCs/investors, brands, etc.) together, so stay tuned!

On Wednesday we will publish our recent interview with Pete DeNagy, a 5G/WiFi 6/IOT sensors expert, and former GM of Samsung Enterprise, President of IOT America and Acommence Advisors. 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.  

If you have any questions about The Upside, need help with business development or fund raising, want to join our community of thousands of sports and tech execs (pro teams, leagues, athletes, investors..), or want to have access to our premium content, please check out Sports Tech Advisors and contact us at info@sportstechadvisors.co

📰 Top Stories We’re Reading This Week 

👓 Another company is giving up on AR. This time, it’s Bose.

👓  Facebook Research: 3D Body Reconstruction From Just One Camera

⌚ Oura Rings May Be Part of the NBA’s Restart Plan, But That Doesn’t Mean It Will Save You From Covid-19

⌚ Wearables have biggest year since 2015 – but there’s a big change on the horizon

⌚Fitbit Versa 2 could get Google Assistant on the wrist

🎮 Formula 1 Virtual Grand Prix series achieves record-breaking viewership with 30M viewers

🎮 PSG Enters League of Legends Pacific Championship Series With Talon Esports

💸 Latest Investment Trends

📊 Tech Stats of the Week

📸 Snapshots of the Week

Let’s jump right into the insights and upside for all of these top stories


🎮 AR/VR/Video/Digital Sports News

👓 Another company is giving up on AR. This time, it’s Bose. | Via: Protocol.com

Bose has become the latest company to throw in the towel on immersive computing, shutting down its ambitious Bose AR program. Key Bose AR employees have left the company, and partners have been informed that their apps will stop working in the coming weeks.

“Bose AR didn’t become what we envisioned,” a Bose spokesperson told Protocol. “It’s not the first time our technology couldn’t be commercialized the way we planned, but components of it will be used to help Bose owners in a different way. We’re good with that. Because our research is for them, not us.”

Bose’s change of heart comes as augmented reality startups have struggled across the board. Augmented reality startup Meta AR gave up on plans to replace desktop computing with dedicated AR headsets in late 2018. Last year, both ODG and Daqri shut down. And in April, Magic Leap announced that it was exiting the consumer AR business, laying off 1,000 employees in the process. Bose had been pursuing a unique approach to augmented reality: Instead of superimposing images over a view of the real world, Bose AR was based on audio alone and provided walking directions, audio-based fitness instructions and games via compatible headphones. The company even built its line of sunglasses with integrated headphones and AR sensors. It now wants to utilize these sensors to simplify the usage of those headphones and glasses.

Bose’s retreat from AR has been unfolding quietly over several months. Bose SVP John Gordon, who had championed AR in his role as the head of the company’s consumer electronics division, left last summer. Most of the team members working on AR departed or were let go this spring, according to an insider who declined to be named for this story. In April, Bose closed its public AR SDK, making it impossible for new developers to build apps for the program. Around that time, Bose also started to remove mentions of AR from its website, including from product descriptions for its glasses and AR-compatible headphones. In the last couple of days, developers were informed that apps based on Bose AR would stop working.

“We learned a lot — mostly, that our work in AR delivered compelling customer experiences based on specific interests and specific use cases, not for broad, daily use,” Bose’s spokesperson said. “So, we decided to stop working on third-party developer apps and won’t be supporting them beyond mid-July.”

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe that this is not surprising at all to see Bose shutting down its AR project. It was only a matter of time. We would even argue that what they claimed to be AR glasses were not true AR glasses as these glasses did not use any optics but rather used audio to augment the experience. Basically it was “augmented” audio and the price of the glasses was simply too high. It was a hard sales so they probably did not sell a lot of units and therefore decided to shut down the project.

👓  Facebook Research: 3D Body Reconstruction From Just One Camera | Via: Upload

Facebook is the company behind the Oculus brand of virtual reality products. The company is considered a world leader in machine learning. Machine learning (ML) is at the core of the Oculus Quest and Rift S– both headsets have “inside-out” positional tracking, achieving sub-mm precision with no external base stations. On Quest, machine learning is even used to track the user’s hands without the need for controllers. In a paper, called PIFuHD, three Facebook staff and a University of Southern California researcher propose a machine learning system for generating a high detail 3D representation of a person and their clothing from a single 1K image. No depth sensor or motion capture rig is required.

This paper is not the first work on generating 3D representations of a person from an image. Algorithms of this kind emerged in 2018 thanks to recent advances in computer vision. In fact, the system Facebook is showing off is named PIFuHD after PIFu from last year, a project by researchers from various universities in California. On today’s hardware, systems like PIFu can only handle relatively low resolution input images. This limits the accuracy and detail of the output model. PIFuHD takes a new approach, downsampling the input image and feeding it to PIFu for the low detail “course” basis layer, then a new separate network uses the full resolution to add fine surface details. Facebook claims the result is state of the art. Looking at the provided comparisons to similar systems, that seems to be true.

Facebook first showed off its interest in digitally recreating humans back in March 2019, showing off ‘Codec Avatars’. This project focused specifically on the head and face- and notably the avatar generation required an expensive scan of the user’s head with 132 cameras.

⬆️ The Upside:  We think that this 3D project is the continuation of the Codec Avatars project that Facebook showcases in 2019. it is very promising and is good news for the VR industry as a whole. The only challenge there is going to create a VR solution that is scalable, repeatable and affordable over time. but Facebook has enough resources to make it work.

Picture: Facebook


🚑 Wearables, Health, Nutrition News

⌚ Oura Rings May Be Part of the NBA’s Restart Plan, But That Doesn’t Mean It Will Save You From Covid-19 | Via: Gizmodo

Sports came to a screeching halt with the onset of covid-19, but as the NBA looks to resume the 2019-2020 season at Disney World on July 30, it looks like the Oura Ring may be a part of plans to keep players safe.

On Tuesday, the National Basketball Players Association sent a memo—which was originally obtained by The Athletic—to its members detailing its “Life Inside the Bubble” plan. For the most part, it outlines virtual workouts, social distancing protocols, rigorous testing regimens, and travel guidelines. That said, it also notes that players will have the option of wearing two types of wearables. The first is a “proximity alarm” that will notify players if they spend more than five seconds within 6 feet of another person. The second is the Oura Ring.

The Oura Ring is significant as it’s one of several wearables currently being studied by researchers as a potential tool for early detecting covid-19. The smart ring is designed to help track sleep, it does so by also measuring body temperature, respiratory rate, heart rate variability, and resting heart rate. Back in April, the company behind the ring announced it was teaming up with the West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI) for a national study, as well as the University of California San Francisco. It’s also been included in Stanford University’s study on early detection. A Gizmodo investigation into whether wearables can actually detect covid-19 before symptoms appear was promising, but ultimately inconclusive. However, earlier this month, RNI announced that preliminary results from observing 600 healthcare professionals and first responders indicated it could detect illness up to three days before symptoms, with a 90% accuracy rate. Again, promising and intriguing results, but it’s unclear how specifically the Oura Ring can differentiate between illnesses like covid-19 and similar respiratory viruses like the flu. Still, there are also major differences between NBA players and the average consumer. The biggest thing here is that players who choose to use the Oura Ring—the memo says it is optional, and not required—will have access to regular covid-19 testing. In that instance, giving these rings to NBA players may provide more data for researchers to work with.

As for who exactly gets to see a player’s health data collected from the ring? A tweet from ESPN writer Zach Lowe notes that the only thing team staff will have access to is an “illness probability score.” That tracks somewhat with the digital platform RNI said it created, which involves a combination of an app, the Oura Ring, and artificial intelligence algorithms. RNI’s press release makes no mention of a probability score, but it’s a metric that aligns with what researchers have told Gizmodo would be likely for predictive covid-19 software based on wearable data.

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe that allowing the Oura ring during live NBA games would be an important event for the NBA. Historically the NBA has not allowed the use of wearables during live NBA games. It could open the door to other wearables to be used in the NBA. Granted this memo came from the NBPA, not the NBA itself so this has to be taken with a grain of salt. Lastly the NBA has put together an NBA committee who has been looking at various wearables to be potentially be used in the NBA. Ultimately this would also be great news for the NBA players themselves as the health of players should be the #1 priority when the NBA season resumes.

⌚ Wearables have biggest year since 2015 – but there’s a big change on the horizon | Via: Wareable

Wearable tech has had its biggest year since the dizzy heights of 2015, but the wearables and smartwatch market could be set to have a record breaking explosion. The latest research by IDTechEx predicts that the fast-tracking of pandemic-fighting tech by regulatory bodies such as the FDA could see an explosion of powerful, health focused devices. The report shows that in 2019, wearables grew 19% year on year in 2017 and totalled $70bn in sales. It puts this down to the rise of wireless headphones and hearables, such as the Apple AirPods and the array of spin-off devices hitting the market. These generated $4bn extra from 2018.

“The other strongest growth came from device categories such as smartwatches and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices, which grew by just under $4bn and $1.3bn respectively relative to 2018 values.

“This represents the largest one-year growth rate since peak wearables hype in 2015 (a year which saw the commercial launches of leading devices such as the Apple Watch), which emphasises the growing strength in the sector and the continuing opportunity for new development and growth,” read the report. But the IDTechEx report believes that while the pandemic will naturally affect 2020’s growth, it could be a big opportunity to advance wearable tech.

“Many products involved in pandemic countermeasures have been fast-tracked to FDA approvals. Regulatory barriers are critical challenges for many players, from new start-ups to global leaders, and changes to them can shift the dynamic immediately,” said the report. And a big part of this is what IDTechEx calls the growth of the “potentially” medical device. Medical devices have been slow to be certified by the FDA, which means when the likes of Samsung and Fitbit launch ECG and sleep apnea features they come with disclaimers to use the results as a conversation with your doctor, but not to rely on the results themselves.

“Potentially medical” products are categories where sensing capabilities more traditionally associated with medical devices have been introduced in consumer products, which could potentially see some reclassification within the boundaries of medical products further into the future.

“This is not likely to happen quickly, but this is a significant trend which should not be ignored.”

⬆️ The Upside:  This should not as a surprise to see the wearables space to have a record year. Moving forward we believe that key drivers will have a positive impact on future growth of the wearable market. Those includes: (1) COVID-19 pandemic. Many wearables startups have pivoted to address the COVID-19 and help detect early signs of COVID-19. Some expert already predict 30M wearables shipped to be medical grade in 2020. (2) Aging population: The U.S. population is aging. Today, there are more than 46M older adults age 65 and older living in the U.S.; by 2050, that number is expected to grow to almost 90M. Wearables will be key there as it will help better monitor the health of elderlies and detect early signs of chronic diseases. (3) Next gen wearables with contactless biosensors. We expect to see the emergence of a new wave of contactless wearables with biosensors capable of measuring HR, HRV, sleep quality and even blood pressure without any contacts to the skin. You can check out our analysis on the contactless biosensors market here.

⌚Fitbit Versa 2 could get Google Assistant on the wrist | Via: Wareable

Fitbit devices could soon be running Google Assistant, even before the buyout between the two companies is ratified. Code spotted by the ever-eagle-eyed 9to5Google shows that Fitbit is prepping to onboard Google Assistant as a wrist-based assistant. The Fitbit Versa 2 currently utilises Amazon Alexa and has a microphone built in for talking to the assistant. However, you need to push-to-wake and there’s no speaker – so feedback from Alexa uses text only. Code found in the Fitbit APK submitted to the Google Play Store suggests that Google Assistant will be an option going forward.

9to5Google reports that Google was reticent to add its support to Fitbit devices, as the necessary APIs didn’t exist for this kind of minimal feedback – but it appears that it’s changed its mind. Commands are limited when it comes to Alexa, thanks to the lack of audio feedback – but you can ask Alexa for your stats and well as performing basic smart home commands. We’d expect the Assistant experience to be much the same. The Google/Fitbit buyout is still rumbling on six months after it was announced that Google was to acquire the fitness company.

Concerns about the search giant having access to so many health data points has caused concern, and the Justice Department is scrutinising the deal before allowing it to go ahead. A collaboration between the two would be a good way to mark the new era – should the deal go forward. Although with no audio feedback and limited appeal of voice commands on Fitbit, it’s likely to be little more than symbolic moment than a significant feature.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe this should come as a surprise to see Fitbit to soon be integrated into the Fitbit Versa 2. This was part of Google’s strategy when it acquired Fitbit. This is also a an attempt to better compete against Apple the smart watch market. Google Assistant is currently the most dominant digital assistant used in the world with 500M users globally. This is well ahead of Alexa which is used on 100M+ devices. Google Assistant will make the Fitbit more appealing over time as it will enable new BOT use cases.

Picture: Fitbit, Google


🎮 Esports & Crypto-Currency News

🎮 Formula 1 Virtual Grand Prix series achieves record-breaking viewership with 30M viewers | Via: Formula1.com

Formula 1 have revealed that the F1 Esports – Virtual Grand Prix series, which drew to a close last weekend, achieved a record-breaking 30 million views across TV and digital platforms during the lockdown period, as fans tuned in for live sporting action, including eight Virtual Grands Prix, Pro Exhibition races and #Challenge events.

The series was created to enable fans to continue watching Formula 1 races virtually, despite the ongoing COVID-19 situation, and to watch their favourite drivers battle it out when racing was not possible. Throughout the series over half the F1 grid took to the track, with 11 drivers competing in at least one race in the series.

The F1 drivers were also joined by a host of famous faces, including a Ryder Cup winner, professional footballers, and music chart toppers.

⬆️ The Upside: We think this is another indicator that esport has been a big winner during the COVID-19 pandemic. 30M F1 fans watching the F1 virtual series is a record milestone. By comparison, NASCAR’s Texas Virtual Race attracted 1.3M viewers. Esport has become a great way for sports leagues to offset the loss in ticket sales and attract new sponsorship opportunities during the COVID-19 quarantine period.

Picture: F1

🎮 PSG Enters League of Legends Pacific Championship Series With Talon Esports | Via: Esportsobserver

The esports arm of Paris Saint-Germain F.C. will compete in the League of Legends Pacific Championship Series via a partnership with Talon Esports. The multi-year team partnership will create a co-branded team similar to PSG.LGD, which competes as part of the Chinese Dota 2 scene. Both organizations will pursue commercial partnerships and regionally tailored content creation. Financial terms were not disclosed. The newly formed PSG Talon will continue to compete as one of the ten inaugural teams in the PCS, which launched this year as a combined competition across Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

Talon was the winner of the PCS Spring split, despite only entering League of Legends at the end of last year. The organization also competes in Arena of Valor, Clash Royale, Overwatch, Rainbow Six Siege, TEKKEN, and Street Fighter.  This also marks PSG’s return to League of Legends, having disbanded its European roster in 2017. The French soccer club withdrew from the game after being unable to qualify for the top European league, also citing issues with the revenue sharing model presented by Riot Games at the time.

⬆️ The Upside: We think this is a great move by PSG to enter the League of Legends championship. We expect other sports teams to follow suit. This is part of PSG’s overall strategy to tap into the growing popularity of the esports market which is expected to reach $1.1B in revenue this year. You can check out our latest analysis: Esport: Hype Vs Reality.

Picture: F1


💸 Sports Tech & Health Investment (Fund raising, M&As) Trends — June 2020


📊 Key Tech Sports Stats of The Week

$519B: A new study that claims the App Store ecosystem facilitated half a trillion ($519 billion) in billings and sales globally in 2019.

$17B: Startup Epic Games Inc., which developed battle game Fortnite and acquired networking app Houseparty, is close to raising a $750 million round of funding at a valuation of about $17 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

$500M: TikTok’s U.S. revenues are expected to hit $500M this year.

$200M: Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg on Thursday announced a series of new steps the social media giant is taking to address racial inequality, including a $200 million commitment to Black-owned businesses and organizations.

$150M: UFC is reportedly looking to take on more debt, as Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings suggest the organization could add $150 million to its current $2.3 billion loan

$120M: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his wife, Patty Quillin, are donating $120 million toward student scholarships at historically black colleges and universities.

$2M: The XFL made four payments totaling $2.05 million to Vince McMahon’s main venture WWE in the month between play stoppage and the league filing bankruptcy in April, adding to suspicion there was more at play into the league’s failure than the pandemic.

140: You can now tweet and posts 140 second audio tweets (with your own voice), announced Twitter last week.

48%: La Liga Santander’s anticipated return on 11 June saw international viewership increase by over 48% for matchday 28, compared to the average matchday figures prior to the competition’s suspension, according to Nielsen sports.

30%: CEO Sundar Pichai says he aims to raise the proportion of ‘leadership representation of underrepresented groups’ overall by 30% and dramatically boost the number of black executives at Google by 2025.

8: Bayern Munich won the Bundesliga title last week. It has now won 8 consecutive titles since 2012/2013 season which is the longest European title strike. The German club is now tied with Juventus.


📸 The Upside: Snapshots & video of The Week.

Taking a knee at kickoff: Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur took a knee at kickoff this weekend.

Powerful message: Powerful message from Rhian Joel Brewster who is an English professional footballer who plays as a striker for Championship club Swansea City.

More than winning championships. Bucks NBA star Kyle Korver said he’ll follow the lead of his Black teammates.

❤️ Cavs (NBA) Make History by Hiring Female Assistant

❤️ Cavs (NBA) Make History by Hiring Female Assistant

Dear Friends and Members,

Last Friday, we published our Sleep Tech Monitoring and Analysis Market, in which we where we discussed the segments, key players, and current and future trends in the sleep tech market for the coming years. To access this analysis be sure to sign up for our premium subscription by clicking the “subscribe now” button below.

Looking for access all of our previously published analysis, insights, data, podcast interviews, and more? Subscribe now to unlock access!

Source: Sports Tech Advisors, 2019

On Friday we plan to publish an analysis on the basketball tech market (AR, VR, wearables, etc.). To access this analysis be sure to sign up for our premium subscription by clicking the “subscribe now” button above.

📰 Top Stories We’re Reading This Week 

👀 AR glasses create 3D experience directly from smartphones

📈 Weekly Sports Startup Case Study & ROI: OTT sports, a great way to better monetize sports video content

⌚️Amazfit Verge 2 launches, rivalling Apple Watch with ECG and eSIM support

⌚️Fitbit retires its iconic and versa smartwatch apps

🎮 New York Excelsior Owner Sterling.VC Launches Andbox Esports Branding

❤️ Cavs (NBA) make history by hiring Lindsay Gottlieb as female assistant to their coaching staff

💸 Latest Investment Trends

📊 Tech Stats of the Week

📸 Snapshots of the Week

Let’s jump right into the insights and upside for all of these top stories


🎮 AR/VR/Video Sports News

👀 AR glasses create 3D experience directly from smartphones | Via: Springwise

China-based Rokid is developing augmented reality (AR) glasses with the computing power to generate immersion experiences from a smartphone. The glasses can generate a virtual desktop to work from or an active 3D experience for gaming.

Rokid Vision glasses are different from other models on the market because they include some processing power. It means wearers can plug the glasses into any device with a Type C port, like smartphones and tablets. Rokid promises the glasses will provide immersive sound, be lightweight and be affordable.

⬆️ The Upside: Rokid Vision glasses have a different approach from other competing AR glasses vendors as they include processing power. However we don’t expect Rokid to gain much traction as it does not have a solid brand recognition globally. When it comes to AR glasses, having a solid brand is important which is why vendors like Facebook, Sony, HTC..will prevail there.

Picture: Rokid


📈 Our weekly Sports Tech Case Study / ROI

Each week we’ll highlight a sports tech case study with a technology that helped sports teams get a solid ROI (injury reduction, ticket sales improvement, cost savings, diversity improvement, etc.).

So what’s our weekly sports tech case study?

In the OTT space, content is king, yet who are the knights defending their leader? A successful OTT service needs a robust infrastructure, a seamless authentication (login, registration), the richness of apps, content entitlement, and the right customer care processes. Sports OTT viewers have high standards for quality and tech vendors should comply.

So what is important for a pro team or sports brand when launching an OTT service?

Focus on subscriber retention. The initial acquisition is easy if you have a popular brand, with that in place you then need to increase engagement and satisfaction. The sports OTT market is just too big of a sector to overlook. Massive sports brands with big fan bases have to find a way to lock-in those fans with a great service, and build stable revenue streams.

In this competitive market where subscriber acquisition costs are high, there is a growing need for services to focus on retention rather than solely acquisition. The economics behind this is clear.

“Acquiring a new subscriber is five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one” – Harvard Business Group

Monetising live video remains a top priority for sports organisations. There was a cool stat in a recent Techcrunch article recently. Out of the 100 most-watched live telecasts in the US in 2005, 14 were sporting events; in 2015, sporting events comprised 93 of the top 100 telecasts.

Increasingly, sports businesses choose subscriptions to build stable revenue streams and that fits their drive for sustainability. In a recent example, SportsMax, the leading sports broadcaster in the Caribbean, set up a dedicated sports channel with Cleeng and broadcasted all the live games via a streaming app. They used SportsMax’s access and identity management (IAM), entitlement and payment modules to create a set of passes with synced coupons to run a promotional campaign.

That resulted in obtaining more than 20,000 users.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe that OTT is a great way for sports teams to monetize their video content (Live, VOD). We are seeing 2 new trends in the OTT sports: (1) Integration of a VR/360 experience with e-commerce integration as part of an OTT offering. Companies like The Dream VR are key players there. (2) Integration of live statistical and biometric data as part of the Sports OTT experience. Ultimately if implanted properly pro teams can use OTT services to better monetize video content, reduce churn, increase fans engagement and drive their top line.


🚑 Wearables, Health, Nutrition News

⌚️ Amazfit Verge 2 launches, rivalling Apple Watch with ECG and eSIM support | Via: Wearable

Huami has pulled back the curtain on the Amazfit Verge 2 – and it comes packing some of the high-end smartwatch features we’ve only seen from Apple.

Unveiled as part of parent company Xiaomi’s special event in Beijing where the Mi Band 4 was also shown off, the device comes with support for real-time ECG readings, as well as eSIM technology. That means it can work without being connected to a smartphone.

The addition of the ECG monitor is significant, as it propels the Verge 2 into the very select group of watches – including the Apple Watch Series 4 and Withings Move ECG – to offer the feature. It’s facilitated by Huami’s Huanghan No.1 always-on AI chip – something that features a cardiac biometrics engine that allows for more accurate heart rate monitoring.

Screening can take place for heart arrhythmia and atrial fibrillation, with the smartwatch able to store up to an hour of ECG data locally for seven days. As we say, though, that’s not all. The eSIM support means that the Verge 2 is compatible with all of China’s major carriers, allowing it to make and take calls independent of a phone.

Much like the original, the Verge 2 feature set will have an emphasis on tracking. There’s automatic tracking for 10 activities, such as indoor, outdoor and trail running, elliptical, trekking, skipping and more.

And, again, like the predecessor, the new smartwatch will retain its budget price tag. The standard edition will cost roughly $144, while the ECG version $188.

⬆️ The Upside: We think that the Verge 2 is a compelling product as it offers great functionalities (ECG, various activity tracking capabilities..) at a reasonable price. This kind of product should help Xiaomi remain competitive in the highly competitive smartwatch market dominated by Apple.

Picture: Huami

⌚️ Fitbit retires its iconic and versa smartwatch apps | Via: Wearable

Fitbit Labs, the company’s branch that builds apps and watch faces for its smartwatches, has announced it will retire several of its creations.

Fitbit says it will be removing the New Parent, Tennis and Think Fast apps on 15 June, as well as the Mood Log clock face. If you already have them on your device, they won’t disappear, but Fitbit says functionality “will be reduced”.

Fitbit told us it’s retiring them to make way for “more experiments in the future”, but the decision implies users simply weren’t using these apps very much. We’re hardly surprised: smartwatch apps, particularly third-party apps and those that don’t come “baked into” wearables, have struggled to find a footing. Fitbit has fostered a decent community of people designing watch faces, but its app ecosystem feels immature next to the Apple Watch and even Wear OS.

“Since its launch in 2017, Fitbit Labs has developed and tested potential Fitbit features through a variety of experimental apps and clock faces designed to motivate users and help drive behavior change,” Fitbit told us in a statement.

“Apps and clock faces from Fitbit Labs are designed to be available for a limited time to help us gain valuable feedback and insights for developing future features that enhance our user experience.”

Most of the apps being killed off launched late 2017, to coincide with the arrival of the Fitbit Ionic, while New Parent launched in time for the Versa smartwatch in March 2018.

⬆️ The Upside: This move by Fitbit should not come as a surprise as, according to Fitbit spokesperson, these apps were always intended as “experiments to test ideas and to analyze anonymous user data, adding that it was always the intention they live for a limited period of time”. Plus in December 2017, the company spoke quite candidly about Labs and noted that some apps could be discontinued if they weren’t a success. The news also comes just days after Apple announced it will launch a standalone App Store for its Watch.

Picture: Fitbit


🎮 eSports & Crypto-Currency News

🎮 New York Excelsior Owner Sterling.VC Launches Andbox Esports Branding | Via: eSports Observer

Sterling.VC, the owner of the OverwatchLeague’s New York Excelsior, has established Andbox as a new brand for its esports initiatives. The company also recently acquired the New York franchise spot in the upcoming Call of Duty geolocated league. Andbox will also focus on content creation, New York-area events, and fashion and apparel products.

Andbox has brought in Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow, co-founders of New York-based fashion label Public School, to be the creative directors for its apparel offerings. The New York Excelsior previously collaborated with fashion brands such as Undefeated, Champion, and New Era.

“Following the launch of NYXL and our new Call of Duty franchise, we’ve received a tremendous amount of support from our fans, but we recognize that New Yorkers—and gamers everywhere—are still hungry for a deeper, more meaningful connection to esports,” said Andbox co-founder Scott Wilpon, in a release. “We’re incredibly excited to launch Andbox to help people find exciting new ways to self-identify and express themselves as gamers.”

Sterling Equities is the principal owner of the New York Mets, as well as the SportsNet New York (SNY) television network.

⬆️ The Upside: We think this is a great move by Sterling.VC. This is part of its overall strategy to become a key player in the eSports market. For the New York Mets, it is part of their overall strategy to try to attract a new type of audience (gamers) and improve the awareness of their sports brands beyond traditional sports. In the long run eSports could potentially help the sports franchise drive its top line.

Photo: Andbox


🎮 Social Impact News

❤️ Cavs (NBA) make history by hiring Lindsay Gottlieb as female assistant to their coaching staff | Via: ESPN

Last week the Cavs (NBA) added a female assistant to their coaching staff. Lindsay Gottlieb will make history as the first women’s college basketball coach to be hired in the NBA. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, coach John Beilein is hiring California women’s coach Lindsay Gottlieb to be an assistant.

“Her success at Cal Berkeley speaks for itself and her insight in our meetings, practices and games will hold tremendous value. After sitting with her, it was easy to see how she will connect quickly with our staff and our players, and we all benefit because of that connection. I’m looking forward to merging all of her years of experience and vision for the game with our current and future coaching staff.”

Gottlieb — who will sign a four-year contract with the Cavs and is the first women’s collegiate head coach recruited to an NBA staff — gave credit to commissioner Adam Silver, echoing the sentiments of other women who have found coaching and front-office employment in the NBA. Silver has been vocal about wanting to see more women hired for various NBA jobs, including coaching, administration and officiating.

Silver’s push to expand hiring practices isn’t just posturing; he understands that it makes sense in any profession to widen the talent pool. It’s unlikely we’ll see many women make the move Gottlieb is making between the college game and the NBA, but it’s a start.

“It was an incredibly forward-thinking way of saying, ‘For us to be as good as we can be, we need different thought processes,’ and they value what I’m going to bring to the table,” said Gottlieb, 41. “Part of who I am is about having an ability to connect to people and be open to letting people be who they are even as we’re trying to achieve a mission together. I think some of those characteristics are what made me attractive to the Cavs organization.

⬆️ The Upside: We think this is a great move by the Cavs. This is part of a new trend in the NBA where many pro teams are hiring female coaches to be part of their coaching staff. The Cavs are not the only NBA team to do so. So which other NBA teams also have female assistants? Including Gottlieb, there are now six female assistant coaches in the NBA. Here’s the list of all of them: Natalie Nakase (LA Clippers), Becky Hammon (San Antonio Spurs), Jenny Boucek (Dallas Mavericks), Kristi Toliver (Washington Wizards), Chasity Melvin (Charlotte Hornets), Lindsay Gottlieb (Cleveland Cavaliers). We think it is only a matter of time before we see a major NBA team hire a female as its new NBA head coach.

Picture: Lindsay Gottlieb


💸 Sports Investment Trends — June, 2019

  • Esports infrastructure company and Rogue parent ReKTGlobal has acquired Greenlit Content, a company that operates videogame and esports-centric websites. Read on here.
  • Immortals Gaming Club has acquired Infinite Esports & Entertainment, parent company of OpTic Gaming and the Houston Outlaws. Read on here.

📊 Key Tech Sports Stats of The Week

$9B: At least $9B has been bet legally on sports in the U.S. in the year since PASPA was overturned, according to the AP.

$1.2B: FIFA is doubling down on its goal to further engaged its Chinese fan base. They are doing this by launching official accounts on popular digital platforms Douyin and Toutiao. Between the two platforms, there are 1.2B monthly active users. With Douyin and Toutiao, FIFA will now have an official presence in four platforms in the country with Weibo and WeChat being the other two.

$500M: Wanda Sports Group is looking to raise $500M with its IPO.

$86M: According to Forbes, Roger Federer’s partnerships with companies such as Mercedes-Benz, Rolex, Barilla, Wilson, Uniqlo and others netted him $86M in the 12 months ending June 1, 2019, dwarfing his prize money earnings of $7.4 million over the same period.

7M: According to NBCSports, the St. Louis market saw a 41.8 local TV rating, making it the highest-rated Blues game ever in that market. Game 7 was also the most-streamed NHL game ever, delivering an Average Minute Audience (AMA) of 191,500 viewers. It also drew 9M viewers making it the most watched NHL game since 1994.

732: Kawhi Leonard (Raptors/NBA) scored 732 points in the postseason, which is the third most by any player in playoff history (LeBron James, 2018 and Michael Jordan, 1992).

55%: During the NBA Finals, the Raptors had 55% more Twitter mentions than the Warriors, according to TwitterSports. The eight most Tweeted about Raptors games in history were played since May 12, 2019.

26, 10: Kyle Lowry scored 26 points and added 10 assists in the Raptors’ win. He is just the sixth player ever to have 25 or more points and 10 or more assists in Game 6 or 7 of an NBA Final. He joins LeBron James as the only other player to do it on the road.

16Fred VanVleet hit 16 3-pointers in this series, setting an NBA record for the most shots made from beyond the arc off the bench in a Finals. JR Smith and Robert Horry are now tied for second with 15.

12 hrs: After winning their maiden Stanley Cup title, the St. Louis Blues are generating record sales for merchandising giant Fanatics.It took only 12 hours for Blues fans celebrating the first Cup in the franchise’s 52-year history to shatter Fanatics’  previous sales record for Stanley Cup championship merchandise, set by the Washington Capitals in 2018.

9: Nick Nurse became the ninth rookie coach to win an NBA title. He’s the first since Tyronn Lue in 2016-17.

1: The Raports (NBA) won their first NBA title after beating the Warriors 4-2 in the NBA Finals.


📸 The Upside: Snapshots of The Week

Ahead of the start of Wimbledon, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) debuted the new No.1 Court retractable roof. The roof is 80,000-square-feet of fabric covering that required 11 new 112-ton steel trusses atop the grounds’ second-largest stadium, via ForbesSports.

👟 ⚽ Latest tech? Google powered adidas smart insoles

👟 ⚽ Latest tech? Google powered adidas smart insoles

Dear Friends and Members,

Last week, the Coronavirus continued to spread globally with now many games cancelled or played behind closed doors to protect players’ and fans’ safety. The NBA has recommended that players replace that most common staple of sports celebrations, the high-five, by the fist bump (or elbow bump). In addition, some reports indicate that Google Wear OS could soon get a major overhaul. Google is also launching, in association with adidas, some smart insoles. Samsung also introduced 2 new smartwatches. Lastly, Oppo is set to introduce next week a Smartwatch clone and Esports organization OG launched a cryptocurrency powered fan token.

This week, we also published our latest Analysis: How 5G will Change the Game of Sportsso be sure to sign up for our premium subscription by clicking the “subscribe now” button below.

Looking for access all of our previously published analysis, insights, data, podcast interviews, and more? Subscribe now to unlock access!

Next week we will publish our latest weekly newsletter. As a reminder, in 1Q20, we plan to introduce a new major initiative that will better bring our sports tech community of thousands of sports tech execs (Pro teams, leagues, sports startups, VCs/investors, brands, etc.) together, so stay tuned!

If you have any questions about The Upside, need help with business development or fund raising, want to join our community of thousands of sports and tech execs (pro teams, leagues, athletes, investors..), or want to have access to our premium content, please check out Sports Tech Advisors and contact us at info@sportstechadvisors.co

📰 Top Stories We’re Reading This Week 

🥽 How VR And AR Could Be A Solution To Coronavirus Cancellations For Conferences

👟 Google Jacquard-powered ‘Adidas GMR Insoles’ for soccer tracking leak

⌚  Wear OS could get a big fitness overhaul

⌚  Samsung unleashes Active 2 LTE and Golf Editions

⌚  The Oppo Watch is official with WearOS and ECG – but only for China

🎮  Esports Organization OG Launches Cryptocurrency Powered Fan Token

💸 Latest Investment Trends

📊 Tech Stats of the Week

📸 Snapshots of the Week

Let’s jump right into the insights and upside for all of these top stories


🎮 AR/VR/Video/Digital Sports News

🥽 How VR And AR Could Be A Solution To Coronavirus Cancellations For Conferences | Via: Forbes

As a technology industry analyst, I travel a lot for my line of work and attend many industry conferences and talk to a lot of people about the inner workings of the industry. One thing that I’ve started to notice is that many of the conferences I’m usually attending are being cancelled due to coronavirus and its spread around the world. Because companies are taking a cautious approach to the spread of coronavirus and what it could mean for their employees and partners, many are pulling out of conferences and cancelling events. However, I believe this presents an interesting opportunity for many of the telepresence and conferencing solutions out there and one of the technologies that is ready to address this is immersive computing with AR and VR.

Schools and conferences around the world are closing and many are looking for solutions to enable large groups of people to gather and learn without physically being present. A lot of people have been talking about telepresence video solutions like Zoom, however there are better opportunities to do a lot more with solutions from companies like Spatial or HTC. Both Spatial and HTC Vive Sync have remote collaboration solutions, in fact, Spatial announced major updates to their collaboration solutions, which couldn’t have been better timing. Spatial announced a partnership with multiple cellular operators for 5G from around the world as well as a partnership with AR headset manufacturer Nreal, which makes extremely thin and light AR glasses that attach to your phone. There are many other enterprise collaboration platforms that I have used in the past that work in VR like Arvizio, MeetinVR, Vizible and many more.

⬆️ The Upside:  There is no question that the Coronavirus has become a major problem for conference organizers throughout the world. The travel industry is expected to lose $29B in revenue this year due to the virus and many travelers cancelling flights. You can check out our recent analysis on the impact of the Coronavirus on the world of elite sports. This is where AR and VR could help events organizers offset this trend and organize virtual conferences all over the world.


🚑 Wearables, Health, Nutrition News

👟 Google Jacquard-powered ‘Adidas GMR Insoles’ for soccer tracking leak | Via: 9to5google.com

Google yesterday teased nearly everything about its upcoming collaboration with Adidas and EA Sports except for the actual functionality. The Google Jacquard product has now fully leaked as smart Adidas insoles that track you on the soccer pitch and integrate with the FIFA Mobile game. Footy Headlines, a website covering football kits and boots, already acquired the “Adidas GMR Insoles.” Complete with retail packaging, we see insoles that have a cutout on the underside for the second-generation Jacquard Tag that launched last fall.

This thumb-sized “tiny computer” processes inputs and relays commands to your phone over Bluetooth. However, instead of gestures on a jacket cuff or backpack strap to control music playback and command Google Assistant, what’s communicated is “your touch, control, speed & kicks” when playing soccer. It’s unclear if there’s any additional technology embedded into the insoles or whether everything is housed in the Adidas-branded Jacquard Tag.

Besides physical stats, that data integrates with the FIFA Mobile game for Android and iOS to improve your team’s virtual performance. There’s also the ability to “compete in real-world football challenges,” and “dominate the leaderboards and unlock exclusive rewards.” The tagline for GMR — which stands for “gamer” — is to “play connected.”

The package features two insoles made by Adidas, with the included Jacquard Tag able to slot into either. A “Symmetry Tag” — to fill the empty space on the other — and charging cable round out GMR, while exclusive in-game content is also offered.

To set-up, a companion Adidas GMR app is required. Pricing is not yet known, but we now have a pretty good picture into what Google is announcing on Tuesday, March 10. It very much fits with Jacquard’s vision of infusing everyday objects with technology to make them more useful.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe that this is a great move by both Google and adidas. This will help Google’s sensor based Project Jacquard to get a broader adoption among consumers. Google initially teamed up with Levi’s to create a smart jacket. We expect Google to team up with other major sports apparel companies (e.g. Under Armour, Pumas) to launch consumer products (smart t-shirts, jackets..shoes). Google’s B2B approach is the right approach, but Google will face competition from companies like Plantiga, Sensoria, NURVV, and others (Nike, Xiaomi..). To learn more about the smart insole and shoe market, you can check out our smart footwear analysis.

Picture: adidas smart insole, powered by Google

⌚  Wear OS could get a big fitness overhaul | Via: Wareable

Google’s Wear OS smartwatch platform has fallen pretty far behind its competitors, but it seems the company has a plan to even things up. Hot on the heels of its acquisition of Fitbit, the company has launched a survey to poll users about the features they’d like to see included on future Wear OS devices, or within Google Fit.

This list isn’t limited to, but is dominated by, fitness features. The list was spotted by Droid Life, which has the full list of features that Google is seeking feedback on.
What’s striking is how normal many of these features have become on top wearables, and it’s sobering to think that Google is so far off things like auto activity detection, sleep analysis and even smart alarms. That’s before we even get to SpO2 detection for sleep apnea detection or ECG, which can be found on the Fitbit Versa 2 and Apple Watch Series 5.

There’s no guarantee that these features are coming to Wear OS or Google Fit, but it does show that the company has acknowledged how far behind it’s become in terms of health and wellness.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe that it is time for Google to shake things up. Granted Google is moving in the right direction with the acquisition of Fitbit, but when it comes to the wearable OS war Google seems to have fallen behind. Google needs to leverage its decade of experience in AI/ML and its Google Life Science division to create a OS for wearables capable of analyzing the wearable data to generate meaningful insights to users, and detect early signs of chronic conditions (e.g. Parkinson’s). This is where Google will win.

Picture: Wear OS, Google

⌚  Samsung unleashes Active 2 LTE and Golf Editions | Via: Wareable

Samsung may be gearing up to launch a new smartwatch, but it has taken the wrappers off two special editions of its Active 2 smartwatch. The first is a new Golf Edition, which adds upgraded shot measuring smarts and also a new caddy app that includes the standard 40,000 courses found on proper golf wearables. The company previously launched golf editions of the Samsung Galaxy Watch.

It’s set to come in two versions – with 44mm and 40mm case sizes – with the larger in black and the smaller in pink gold. No gender typecasting there at all. It will cost $325 for the 44mm and $295 for the smaller model – and is coming to the UK and US after its initial release in South Korea. The Smart Caddy app will show you distances to the pin and a map of the hole. You’ll also be able to measure shots off the tee. The quality of the Smart Caddy app will be critical here, and we’ve seen great efforts from the likes of the Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 Golf Edition, which offered a superb tracking experience. Of course, dedicated wearables such as the Garmin Approach S40 have long been a lure for golfers – but none have made a case for being worn away from the course. Now devices like the Apple Watch Series 5 and even Garmin Vivoactive 4 now offer good golf tracking as part of a wider mix of features.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe this is a good move by Samsung. This is part of Samsung’s overall strategy to beat the competition by launching multiple SKUs. That being said, Samsung is still far behind Apple today in the smartwatch market, with 13% of market share in 3Q19, Vs 48% for Apple, according to Strategy Analytics.

Picture: Samsung

⌚  The Oppo Watch is official with WearOS and ECG – but only for China | Via: Wareable

We’ve been tracking the progress of the much-leaked Oppo Watch – and now it’s been officially confirmed by the company’s Twitter account. The company had a smartphone event on 6 March, but it was only announced for the Chinese market – and will launch on 26 March. A company spokesperson said on stage in the Western presentation that the “Oppo Watch deserved its own event, so you will have to wait.” However, from the Chinese press conference and a little help from GSMArena, we now have the full specs. We’ve had a good look at the Oppo Watch with all the leaks – but now we have the detail.

Yes it’s a massive Apple Watch clone – just look at the examples above with the silicone sports bands – absolutely shameless stuff. We doubt most people would be able to tell the difference. It has a curved AMOLED display, and ships in 1.6-inch and 1.9-inch sizes – that’s roughly 41mm and 46mm – so quite a difference between the two. It will have a decent specced 326ppi resolution, so it looks pretty smart. It’s also waterproof to 50 metres. And the reports were correct: the Oppo Watch has a heart rate monitor and it will take electrocardiogram (ECG) readings – again, just like the Series 5. We’re also not sure how much the Oppo Watch will when it hits the West, but in China the larger Oppo Watch will cost CNY 1,999 (around $288) while the 41mm will be CNY 1,499 ($215). That’s more than the Amazfit GTS (they look fairly similar) which retails at around £109.99.

⬆️ The Upside: We expect the Oppo watch to do fairly well in China where it can rely on its strong smartphone business and large customer base. From a feature standpoint, the Oppo watch is very similar (HR, ECG) to the Apple watch or other watches (Withings, Xiaomi..). This is the typical example of a Chinese OEM who is essentially a fast follower and is trying to compete on price against incumbents. That being said we do not expect Oppo to take significant shares away from Apple in the smartwatch market.


🎮 Esports & Crypto-Currency News

🎮  Esports Organization OG Launches Cryptocurrency Powered Fan Token  | Via: Esports Observer

Chiliz ($CHZ), a cryptocurrency that fuels blockchain-backed platforms and products, has announced that the first OG poll on fan engagement and rewards app Socios.com is open. OG is asking fans to choose which in-game banner will be used by the team’s Dota 2 roster this season and in The International using $OG Fan Tokens to vote in the poll. This marks the first time that esports fans have influenced a team using this method.

“We are honored to work closely with Socios.com so that our fans have the opportunity to participate in building OG’s story,” said Johan Sundstein, CEO of OG esports. “Socios.com gives fans a voice, so the link with OG was quite natural. Enhancing the connection with our community has always been part of OG’s DNA. We want to push the experience further, by offering them the opportunity to have a real impact in some of OG’s decisions.”

Only those in possession of $OG Fan Tokens are eligible to vote, which fans must purchase in the OG Token Offering. Each $OG Fan Token will be priced at around $1 USD depending on the exchange rate of Chiliz $CHZ at the time of purchase.  Once acquired, $OG Fan Tokens cannot be spent, but can be used to take part in all future OG votes on the app. Fans will earn reward points for taking part in OG polls and engaging with the team through Socios.com, giving them the opportunity to access event tickets, VIP meet-ups, OG merchandise – including signed jerseys –  and other experiences linked to OG.

⬆️ The Upside: We think this is a good move by OG. This is part of a growing trend among pro teams to team up with blockchain organizations to provide exclusive benefits and rewards to their fans as a way to increase fans loyalty, drive their top line, and try to tap into the fast growing global blockchain technology market expected to reach $57B by 2025.


💸 Sports Investment (Fund raising, M&As) Trends — March 2020

  • Esports Media Platform DBLTAP’s Parent Minute Media raises $40M. Read on here.
  • Tempo Storm Raises $3.3M, plans to launch card game and establish interactive media franchise. Read on here.

📊 Key Tech Sports Stats of The Week

$29B: The outbreak of the new virus threatens to erase $29B of this year’s revenue for global airlines, mostly for Chinese carriers, as travel crashes worldwide, according to the International Air Transport Association.

$600M: Floyd Mayweather says he needs $600M to fight McGregor or Khabib, “The Eagle” responds.

$300M: The UFC last month made a $300M payout to the organization’s investors- including celebrities Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Gisele Bündchen, Ben Affleck and Venus and Serena Williams- but the league’s talent is fuming over its comparatively low pay and a lack of equity, the New York Post reports.

$18-$20M: ESPN is preparing to offer Peyton Manning a record $18M to $20M a year to serve as lead analyst for “Monday Night Football. Is he worth it? Tony Romo is going to get paid $17M per season by CBS. Clearly there is a new TV analysts war going on…between sports broadcasters.

$10.3M: Chelsea FC was the most charitable football club in Europe in 2017/2018, with the Chelsea FC Foundation spending $9.9M and having the highest income at $10.3M. The charitable foundations for Manchester United ($5.6M), Norwich City ($5.6M) and Everton ($4.6M) made up the rest of the top-four biggest charitable spenders in the league.

Video: Chelsea FC Foundation

$8M: DAZN has about 8M paid subscribers, according to the Journal. DAZN, which is offered in nine countries, doubled its number of subscribers since June – by roughly 4M – after it launched in Brazil and Spain, according to London-based SportsPro Media.In contrast, Disney-owned ESPN+ had 7.6M as of February, Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger said on the company’s earning’s call.

24,735: MLS averaged 24,735 fans per match during the league’s 2020 opening weekend. That is a 16.1% increase compared to the league’s average attendance during the 2019 season, which was 21,310.

Week One Attendance

Club / Announced Attendance / % of Capacity / Vs. 2019 Average

  1. Nashville SC – 59,069 – 85.4% – N/A
  2. Seattle Sounders FC – 40,126 – 106.4% – -0.3%
  3. Orlando City – 25,527 – 100.1% – +12.2%
  4. Portland Timbers – 25,218 – 100% – 0%.
  5. LAFC – 22,121 – 100.6% – -0.6%
  6. Vancouver Whitecaps – 22,120 – 100% – +13.4%
  7. Houston Dynamo – 22,039 – 100% – +40.6%
  8. Montreal Impact – 21,006 – 107.1% – +29.9%
  9. San Jose Earthquakes – 18,000 – 100% – -4.2%
  10. Columbus Crew SC – 17,473 – 87.5% – +17.6%
  11. DC United – 16,932 – 84.7% – -4.6%
  12. FC Dallas – 16,219 – 79.1% – +9.3%
  13. New York Red Bulls – 15,703 – 62,8% – -9.1%

Picture: MLS

1000: This weekend, Cristiano Ronaldo brought up 1000 career first team appearances for club and country.

47%: Forty-seven percent of NFL fans are women, a new all-time high, according to data from the NFL. There are now 88M female NFL fans, and more women watched Super Bowl LIV than the Grammys, Oscars, and Emmys combined, according to the league.


📸 The Upside: Snapshots & video of The Week.

NBA Suggests Fist-Bumps Over High-Fives Amid Coronavirus Fears. The NBA told players to stop high-fiving fans and to fist bump them instead as a coronavirus precaution.

Picture: NBA

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