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💉 Analysis: AI takes on doping

💉 Analysis: AI takes on doping

Doping by professional athletes has been acknowledged as a problem since at least the 1960s. Since then, a number of global initiatives have been implemented in order to prevent doping in sports, starting with the creation in 1972 of the steroid and drug testing policy by the International Olympic Committee. The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) was also created in 1999. Then in 2004 the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004 was passed in the US, expanding the list of prohibited substances.

Picture: WADA

In the recent years, despite those major initiatives, doping issues gained prominence as a result of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) investigation, tell-alls by former professional athletes, a 2007 report on drugs in professional baseball and a scandal involving Russia’s 2014 Olympic team.

That being said, over the past few years the latest advancements in the world of AI are bringing new opportunities in order to better address doping issues in the world of elite sports. The recent partnerships between WADA and the Montreal based startup Dataperformers and Element AI, perfectly illustrate this new trend. We will get into that in greater details in the upcoming sections.

What are the most common types of performance enhancing drugs?

As shown in the table below, there are several types of performance-enhancing drugs, including anabolic steroids, stimulants, human growth hormone, Erythropoietin (EPO), Tetrahydrogestrinone (THG or the Clear), and diuretics, and gene therapy.

Anabolic steroids are natural and synthetic substances which help build muscle mass, enabling athletes to train harder and recover quickly from strenuous workouts.

Tetrahydrogestrinone, also known as THG or the Clear, is a steroid purportedly used by such high profile athletes as track star Marion Jones and baseball player Barry Bonds.

EPO, also known as blood doping, is a peptide hormone that is produced naturally by the human body. EPO is released from the kidneys and acts on the bone marrow to stimulate red blood cell production. An increase in red blood cells improves the amount of oxygen that the blood can carry to the body’s muscles. It may also increase the body’s capacity to buffer lactic acid.

Stimulants, including amphetamines, impact the central nervous system, increasing alertness and decreasing appetite.

Human growth hormone (HGH) is taken for improved endurance and strength.

Androstenedione is a supplement that was sold over-the-counter until the FDA took action in 2004. It is banned by the NFL, Olympics, NCAA and MLB. The supplement is an anabolic steroid precursor, meaning that the body converts it into testosterone.

Gene therapy, also known as gene doping, is another type of doping in sports. However, instead of injecting DNA into a person’s body for the purpose of restoring some function related to a damaged or missing gene, as in gene therapy, gene doping involves inserting DNA for the purpose of enhancing athletic performance.

913+ athletes sanctioned under steroid and drug testing policy since 1972

Since the implementation of the steroid and drug testing policy by the International Olympic Committee in 1972 there have been 913 documented athletes who were sanctioned under this policy for more than 1170 offenses.

More than half of sanctions (59%) were related to steroids and stimulants.

Steroids is the top substance used with 45% of offenses involving steroids while one in ten offenses involved the use of peptide hormones.

Other drugs have lower rates as may be specific only to a niche sport which is less popular or represented less in competitions such as blood transfusions related to diving.

Sprinting gathered the most sanctions

Sprinting gathered the most sanctions as it constantly requires athletes to push their limits further. Overall, more than half of events include running events or race walking.

events

Most biological passport anomalies were registered for distance running, marathon and race walk with 86% of cases confined to these events while more than half of sprinting offenses (51%) were related to use steroids and another 19% to the use of stimulants.

2 years ban is the most common sanction

With 522 out of total sanctions on all events documented receiving it, the sanction most often used in cases of doping is 2 years, applied in 48% of sanctions given (493 of athletes, 54% of them). Public warnings and / or loss of titles was applied in 72 (7%) of sanctioning cases (68 athletes, 7%) while 51(5%) sanctions were life ban (47 athletes, 5%) especially for repeated misdemeanours.

penalties

USA and Russia registered the highest number of offenses

As expected, due to their high number of competing athletes and substance availability, USA and Russia registered the highest number of offenses. Both countries were sanctioned mainly for the use of steroids. The only notable difference is that USA was making more use of stimulants while in Russia there were more biological passport abnormalities.

worldmap

Along steroids, France and Morocco got also sanctioned more for the use of Hormones.

Most biological passport anomalies were registered in Russia, felony surpassed only by the usage of steroids in this country. Russia also got the most sanctions in the Race walk events with 19% out of the total offenses for Russia and 47% for this event category.

Canada, UK, Nigeria and the US got sanctioned mainly on sprinting as compared to other events.

Morocco got sanctioned mostly for Long distance and Middle distance. Russia, and Morocco got sanctioned for Middle distance more than other countries. Belarus got sanctioned mostly on Shot put and Hammer throw.

Survey: 57% of world-class amateur athletes admitted using performance enhancing drugs.

A controversial study suggesting that doping in sport is far more prevalent than was found to be by conventional testing has finally been published after years of wrangling.

The research, based on anonymous surveys carried out at two elite athletics competitions in 2011, found that up to 57% of competitors admitted doping in the previous 12 months, a figure far surpassing the 1-2% identified by blood and urine tests carried out by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and higher even than the 14% prevalence estimated from the athlete biological passport.

But the research, commissioned and funded by WADA, has taken almost six years to be officially published, despite the results being leaked to the New York Times in 2013 and later released in the UK under parliamentary privilege by the culture, media and sport committee on blood doping in athletics.

Major initiatives: WADA launching 3 AI projects with Dataperformer, Element AI and Centre for Genomics and Politics at McGill University in Montreal.

Back in May 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the Fonds de recherche du QuĂŠbec (FRQ) announced a special request for applications for targeted research projects on the application and impact of artificial intelligence (AI) in the area of anti-doping.

By doing so, the WADA hope to roll out artificial intelligence (AI) technology to help catch drugs cheats within two years.

WADA believe that using AI technology computer systems that conduct tasks normally requiring human intelligence could help target tests far more effectively and ultimately catch more cheats.

Over 300,000 samples a year are analysed worldwide, but there remain huge concerns about the efficacy of testing.

As a result of this initiative, WADA and the Fonds de recherche du QuÊbec (QuÊbec research fund) announced in October 2019 that it has handed over funding to three separate projects that will explore the possible uses of AI in the fight against doping.

Dr Olivier Rabin, the senior director for sciences and international partnerships at WADA, said: “AI is an exciting area to be explored and WADA believes there is enormous untapped potential for its use within anti-doping, particularly when it comes to the analysis of big data. (…) “In time we think it could have a hugely positive impact.”

Dr Rabin added: “These three complementary projects will help shed some light on the extend of AI’s potential in the anti-doping context and we are pleased to be able to support what we hope will be important pieces of research.”

The first of these projects is with Dataperformers, a company founded in Montreal, Canada in 2013, in collaboration with a WADA-accredited lab in Paris.

This research will explore the possibility of using AI to detect the use of prohibited substances and methods.

If successful, artificial intelligence could be used to analyze data collected through WADA’s athlete biological passport programme, which currently uses and ‘adaptive model’ algorithm to determine whether an unusual test result is the result of a normal physiological condition, or related to performance enhancing drugs.

“Athletes are smart in how they dope, you need to be smart in how you apply the anti-doping tests,” Rabin said. “Artificial intelligence will help us in the recommendation to test this particular athlete at this particular time to attempt to reveal doping.” Should the research projects prove as successful as hoped, Rabin says AI could be used within 18-24 months. “It’s going to help us focus on the suspicious data and the suspicious athletes’ profiles,” he added. 

It is well established that targeted testing is far more effective than random tests. But WADA still believe that not enough tests are genuinely targeted. Using AI could help them spot new patterns typical of dopers, assisting their investigations.

“We want to see the correlations that are unknown to us that may come out of this work,” Rabin said. “There is a correlation that we could find between some of the aspects of the suspicious profile and between the population of some of the athletes that we could identify as being doped, and we could not find in the population that you identify as being clean.

Dataperformers CEO and Co-founder Mehdi Merai further explains how AI can help find correlation between a large number of parameters to help detect suspicious profiles.

“I want to find the relationship or the impact between height, weight and the result of a sports performance. It is easily visible to a human. If I add a third parameter, we are still in the possible, but a fourth, a fifth, a sixth … a hundredth, that’s where we reached the limit. Our brain has difficulty understanding the relationship between a set of parameters and a scientific result’, explains Mr Merai.

Picture: Dataperformers team

Dataperformers CEO also believes that its AI solution could also be used to assess the risk of injuries of players over time.

“AI is an excellent tool to detect weak signals from a streamlined data coming from biometric sensors, historical performance, and visual data (movements analysis) (..) AI is able to detect anomalous data points that could be a signal regarding a high probability of injury risk. It acts like an biomedical advisor for the team managers that are able to continuously monitor all the players, from all the perspectives continuously. so, it lights the cognitive load of team managers that will use this time and energy for better cases such as strategy and more”, said Dataperformers CEO during an interview with The Upside.

The second project WADA is funding will be carried out by Element AI, also based in Montreal, which will explore the risk of doping in athletes through the technology and then develop a sampling and testing method based on algorithms.

Picture: Element AI team

Finally, the Centre for Genomics and Politics at McGill University in Montreal will look into how using AI to combat doping would be viewed by different stakeholders, in the hopes of guiding conversations between WADA, other anti-doping organisations, athletes and the public.

Chief scientist of Québec, Dr Rémi Quirion, said: “It is hoped through these three projects that we will raise the understanding of the impacts that AI could have on the fight against doping, both technologically and socially.”

Bottom line: We believe that we are at a point where advancements in AI can have a major impact on anti-doping efforts in the coming years. Companies like Dataperformers, and Element AI, are well positioned to become pioneers in this emerging space. Since all the world’s major sports federations (FIFA, ITF, FIBA, UCI, World Rugby…) are collaborating with WADA, we believe that over time AI could have a profound impact in the fight against doping in elite sports.

⚽ 📺 Clubs’ latest innovation? Teams branded OTT services

⚽ 📺 Clubs’ latest innovation? Teams branded OTT services

Dear Friends and Members,

Last week we saw the launch of the world’s first AR/VR headset by Lynx. Apple also reported that it is now selling more watches than Swiss watchmakers, and Lebron James paid tribute to Kobe with a classical dunk against the Houston Rockets. Lastly Real Madrid star Gareth Bale followed the footsteps of Shaq, Michael Jordan, Steph Curry, and many other top athletes by launching an esports venture.

This week, we published our latest Analysis: The Sports betting market: How technology will change the game, so be sure to sign up for our premium subscription by clicking the “subscribe now” button below.

Picture: NBA

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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 

🥽 LYNX Reveals Standalone MR Headset with Snapdragon XR2, Eye-tracking, & Novel Optics

🥽 NFL uses Mixed Reality to honor the NFL100 team prior to the SuperBowl

🥽 Barcelona unveils 24/7 streaming service Barça TV+

⌚  The four-year-old Samsung Gear S2 just got a surprise update

🎮  Gary Vaynerchuk Explains the Number One Reason He Invested in the Call of Duty League

🎮  Gareth Bale launches esports team for Fifa eClub World Cup

💸 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

🥽 LYNX Reveals Standalone MR Headset with Snapdragon XR2, Eye-tracking, & Novel Optics | Via: RoadToVR

French startup LYNX last week revealed the R-1, a standalone VR headset built for pass-through AR and powered by Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon XR2 chip. The enterprise-focused headset uses a novel lens design which makes it compact.

Lynx is a new player in the XR category; the small startup today revealed its first headset, the enterprise-focused Lynx R-1. Though it uses occluded displays (like a VR headset), the company says the R-1 is designed for pass-through augmented reality—with the capacity for both VR and AR in a single device, we’re calling this a mixed reality headset.

According to the company, the Lynx R-1 is set to release this summer, priced at $1,500.

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe that Lynx AR/VR headset sets a new bar in the AR/VR space. Granted $1500 is still out of reach for most consumers but it is a reasonable price for enterprise and compared to other devices like Hololens ($3k-$5k). We believe that some pro teams might be interested in using those AR/VR glasses to provide virtual training to players who are going through rehab. As we noted before the AR/VR space is set to merge.We expect the price of AR/VR glasses to come down over time. We also expect a new trend with AR/VR contact lenses. This is where companies like Emacula are set to play a key role there. More on that soon..

Picture: Lynx

🥽 NFL uses Mixed Reality to honor the NFL100 team prior to the SuperBowl | Via: NewscastStudio

Along with new insert graphics, augmented reality was also at the forefront of Fox’sSuper Bowl LIV coverage in Miami. The network featured a dynamic mixed reality presentation during the pregame festivities to celebrate the NFL’s 100 greatest, in honor of the league’s 100th season. Produced and designed by The Famous Group using The Future Group’s Pixotope solution, the piece created a series of virtual monitors and image frames on the field, intermixed with live cutaways to the honorees in attendance. The effect was created in real time, combining the live stadium shots with the graphics, taking into account lighting conditions inside Hard Rock Stadium, with rendering from Epic Games’ Unreal Engine.

Fox also used augmented reality elsewhere, throughout both in-game and wraparound coverage, including graphics connected to SkyCam footage with new optical tracking from SMT.

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe this was a great move by the NFL. When it comes to AR overlays on live TV, the NFL, through its broadcaster partners, has been a pioneer in that space, but other leagues such as the NBA are catching up. In fact last year, the NBA teamed up with Second Spectrum to show live statistical data of NBA players as AR overlays on ESPN. The NHL is also expected to go down that path soon. It will help enhance the fans experience, attract new sponsors and help increase viewership long term.

🥽 Barcelona unveils 24/7 streaming service Barça TV+ | Via: Insidersport

Reigning La Liga champions FC Barcelona has announced plans to launch a 24/7 streaming platform in the spring of this year. The subscription-based over-the-top (OTT) service has been named Barça TV+ and will feature video content, on-demand first team highlights, player interviews and archive footage.

Barcelona’s board member Dídac Lee stated: “Our competitors are no longer only the clubs playing football – there are new players we may not have expected ten years ago, such as Netflix, YouTube, Fortnite, MindCraft. Traditionally, we have been working with the biggest platforms in the world.

Barça TV+ is set to allow subscribers to live stream a host of Barcelona content, including B team matches and Barcelona women’s homes games as well as first team press conferences. Finally viewers will also have access to non-live content from the club’s other sports teams which includes its basketball and roller hockey teams.

Gullem Graell, Barcelona’s chief marketing officer, concluded: “It shows us that the platform where our strategy sits is extremely powerful.

“Instead of doing that, we have changed the frame of who our competitors are. If we only consider the sports clubs, we are already there; the job is done. If we are competing with other companies such as Netflix or Disney, we are way smaller.

“Until now, we leverage this potential through third-party platforms, which is where our fans normally consume the sports content. Today, while keeping the effort in this space, we are adding on top of that a direct to the fan with our own platforms.”

While the club has yet to confirm a price it has been announced that the amount will depend on the country in which the purchase is made.

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe this is a good move by FC Barcelona. As their execs pointed out, pro teams are facing increased competition from the likes of Netflix, Amazon, Disney who are seeing sports content as king and a way to attract new subscribers. So why couldn’t pro teams take a cut of the pie and bring this in house and launch their own OTT/video streaming service? This is part of a bigger trend around subscription based services which we highlighted in our 2020 sports tech predictions earlier this year. A few months ago, Real Madrid made headlines when it announced the launch of a Facebook subscription services with exclusive content for $2.77 per month. The math is fairly simple: Real Madrid has 174M fans globally, so assuming that only 1% of their fans sign up for the service, they would generate an additional $57.8M in incremental revenue every year. We expect other big clubs to follow suit and jump on the bandwagon.

Picture: Barcelona FC


🚑 Wearables, Health, Nutrition News

⌚  The four-year-old Samsung Gear S2 just got a surprise update | Via: Wareable

You can’t accuse Samsung of neglecting older watches, as it’s emerged the four-year-old Gear S2 smartwatch is in line for a new firmware update. It’s been a couple of years since the model last received any attention, though, as spotted by Sammobile, the watch’s latest software rollout will see battery life and security improvements. It’s not entirely clear how far the new update will stretch, or whether it’s limited to devices in certain territories, but users will be able to download it from the Galaxy Wearable app. From the app, simply head to ‘Watch Software’ before tapping ‘Download and install’.

We’re yet to see the 6.79MB file pop up in our app at the time of writing, but there are a couple of reports to suggest that the update will also bring the interface of the Galaxy Watch Active 2, the company’s latest smartwatch. Of course, it’s a bit of a surprise move by Samsung, particularly when it’s on the cusp of potentially launching another flagship of its smartwatch, the rumored Galaxy Watch 2.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe that this is a logical move by Samsung. It was actually a bit overdue as battery life and security issues are important to resolve in a timely manner. Moving forward we expect Samsung to innovate when it comes to the biosensing capabilities of its smart watch offering. One possible approach would be for them to team up with Valencell to add BP monitoring and sensing capabilities.

Picture: Samsung


🎮 eSports & Crypto-Currency News

🎮  Gareth Bale launches esports team for Fifa eClub World Cup | Via: Esports Observers

Gareth Bale has launched a new esports organisation called Ellevens Esports, with a team from the franchise set to make their debut at the Fifa eClub World Cup in Milan this week. The venture is co-owned by Bale and 38 Entertainment Group, founded by investor Jonathan Kark and former footballer Larry Cohen.

The Wales and Real Madrid winger has also invited gamers from around the world to participate in a talent hunt where they will be given a chance to sign a professional contract with Ellevens Esports.

“There are similarities between football and esports in that it takes real dedication and sacrifice to reach the top of your game,” Bale said in a statement.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe that this is a great move by Gareth Bale. Bale is following a big trend among pro athletes (Shaq, Rick Fox, Michael Jordan, Steph Curry, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant..) who have been investing and endorsing many esports ventures in order to capitalize on the fast growing esports market which passed the $1B in revenue for the first time last year.

Picture: Elleven eSports, Gareth Bale

🎮  Gary Vaynerchuk Explains the Number One Reason He Invested in the Call of Duty League | Via: Esports Observers

Last weekend, the Minnesota Røkkr hosted the first-ever home market event for the Call of Duty League in Minneapolis. From day one, the CDL will look to engage local fan bases for each of its 12 franchises as each plays host to league competition throughout the year.

The Overwatch League kicked off the city-based esports era in 2018, and that model has already provided at least on regional sponsorship (the Houston Outlaws and grocery store chain HEB) that would not have been viable otherwise. However, for Røkkr owner and VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuk, the localization model gives the CDL an advantage for more than just local sponsors.

“I’m less about the strategy of , Vaynerchuk told The Esports Observer. “I’m more into what it actually means to somebody who could be casual, or not aware at all, and the tribalization of local sports.”

⬆️ The Upside: We believe that Gary Vaynerchuk is pot on there. This is part of a bigger trend in the world of esports. As we mentioned in our 2020 sports tech predictions, we are starting to see the emergence of localized esports academies and events where pro teams and leagues are tapping into the local talent to create esports academies and teams. This is also where companies like esport supply are set to play a key role in helping pro teams and leagues set up local academies, facilities and esports programs.

Picture: Gary Vaynerchuk


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

  • Iguadalo’s NBA career might be on standby right now but he is turning into a true Venture Capitalist as he joins Comcast Ventures. Read on here.
  • North American organization FaZe Clan has entered into a $22.7M convertible loan facility. Read on here.

📊 Key Tech Sports Stats of The Week

$1.1T: The global Internet of Things (IOT) market is projected to reach $1.1T in revenue, with 25B connected devices, according to the GSMA.

Picture: GSMA

$20B: Instagram generated $20B in annual revenue in 2019.

$16B: Throughout 2019, Americans legally wagered a record $13B, according to data from the American Gaming Association. That is nearly double the $6.6B that was wagered legally across the U.S. in 2018.

The handles seen by each state with legalized sports betting in 2019, via the AGA:

  • Arkansas: $11 million
  • Delaware: $103 million
  • Indiana: $436 million
  • Iowa: $212 million
  • Mississippi: $369 million*
  • Nevada: $5.3 billion
  • New Hampshire: Sports betting launched 12/30/2019
  • New Jersey: $4.6 billion
  • New Mexico: N/A*
  • New York: N/A*
  • Oregon: $45 million*
  • Pennsylvania: $1.5 billion
  • Rhode Island: $246 million
  • West Virginia: $226 million

102M: 102M people watched the Super Bowl this year.

31M: Apple now sells more watches than Swiss watchmakers! Sales of Apple Watch jumped 36% with 31 million units sold in 2019. It now significantly exceeds the sales of a declining Swiss watch industry according to Strategy Analytic.

Picture: Apple

$3.3M: Here is a list of the top earners (monthly salary) among players in the French soccer league..is that fair? Ask PSG:)

50: For the first time in 50 years, Kansas City fans enjoyed an extraordinary evening. Their sleep stats showed for celebration.

Picture: Fullpower Technologies

x1.7: Microsoft’s commercial featuring 49ers offensive assistant coach Katie Sowers, had a 1.7x greater positive sentiment with female fans than the average commercial from technology brands during the game Sunday night, according to Zoomph’s latest NFL Report.

Picture: Katie Sower


📸 The Upside: Snapshots & video of The Week.

Video: Lakers’ LeBron James pays homage to Kobe Bryant by recreating classic dunk. Whether he did it on purpose is unknown, but Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James recreated a classic Kobe Bryant dunk last Thursday against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center.

Picture: Lebron James (LA Lakers)

Philippines pay tribute to Kobe and Gigi. A large drawing shows basketball legend Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna at a basketball court in Taguig, south of Manila, on Jan. 29, 2020.

🎤🏀⚽ Formsense: Top Coaches/Trainers Survey Results on Tech Used During COVID-19 crisis

🎤🏀⚽ Formsense: Top Coaches/Trainers Survey Results on Tech Used During COVID-19 crisis

Do you know what your athletes are doing right now?

How professional sports teams are affected in their ability to support training regimes for their athletes in the face of COVID-19.

by @Adam Riggs-Zeigen, Director of Product, Formsense

It was apparent in early March, that the COVID-19 virus was going to hit the world of professional sports hard and quick. The first narratives around the on-going NBA season quickly dissolved into suspended games and stories of infected athletes. What has effectively become the “Great Pause” became a crisis for professional team owners, team managers, and their trainers.

WHAT WE DECIDED TO DO

As a company building products to help athletes maximize performance and reduce injury, we sought to understand specifically how COVID-19 was affecting the health and fitness professionals that work with top-tier athletes.

By acting quickly in mid-March to send out a broad survey to dozens of staff at sports teams around the world, we managed to gather insights into just how their livelihoods were being affected.

Specifically, the survey’s focus was to understand the impact of COVID-19 on staff’s ability to monitor and interact with their athletes in the face of quarantining and social distancing. Respondents represented over 20 different sports, from top teams & organizations, including the NBA, Major League Soccer, Division 1 NCAA teams, Serie A Italian Football, Olympic Sports federations, the Italian Tennis Federation and the English Premier League. Of note, The Upside helped gather responses from coaches (e.g. Italian Tennis Federation, Olympics Sports Federations..) and trainers as part of this survey. This is a follow up to our recent article gathering testimonials from Top coaches/trainers/Startups on what to do during COVID-19 crisis.

Teams were not prepared for the disruption to athlete training

WHAT BECAME IMMEDIATELY CLEAR

While the monetary losses of a paused season have certainly been an issue, for the support staff at these organizations, it became clear that the most valuable assets of high-level teams — the athletes themselves — are at risk.

Generally speaking, teams were not prepared for the disruption to athlete training and the support needed to oversee hundreds of professional athletes forced into “shelter-in” situations. Many athletes were left without access to a professional-level training facility and certainly without in-person oversight of a team trainer.

PRIMARY CONCERNS OF ELITE SPORTS STAFF

Across 19 different questions, we measured the impact to support staff looking at everything from concerns they had to tools they were using to stay in contact with their athletes.  Not surprisingly, COVID-19 has greatly disrupted the ability of staff to interact with their athletes.

Chart

As shown in the graph above, over 90% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they have less awareness of what their athletes are doing on a day-to-day basis.

Chart

In addition, as shown in the graph below, the biggest worries for staff are their ability to ensure their athletes stay in the proper shape (87%) and their ability to treat their athletes’ existing conditions (81%).

Also, as shown in the table below, the primary motivation for coaches and trainers to monitor their athletes remotely while play & practice are suspended is to ensure that athletes maintain their level of fitness, according to 49% of the trainers that participated in this study. 23% of them also said that ensuring that their athletes were complying with stated protocols were their main motivation there.

COMMUNICATION TRENDS

To help mitigate these concerns, staff are getting creative in terms of how they interact. Over 86% are utilizing text messages to stay in touch with their athletes, nearly 70% are doing some form of video chatting and only 2% aren’t doing anything.

Chart

As shown in the table above, while over 1/3 are using some form of wearable device with their athletes today, there are few products that are delivering secure, remote monitoring of exercise protocols and success metrics. When asked about what kind of data & solutions staff would like to be able to use, the most commonly requested were Heart Rate Variability (HRV) measurement, GPS tracking, Rehabilitation/Rehab tools, and Movement/Motion analysis tools.

Additionally, sports staff are clearly asking for some form of video recording of their athletes so they can assess their movement and fitness. Without the established systems that elite sports staff are used to having on-site, this area presents a clear opportunity for innovation.

HOW TEAMS RESPONDED

So far, organizations have provided varying levels of guidance to staff.

Some have been specific, instructing staff to use “home workouts + fitness programs via email with contact through WhatsApp”, while others have been vague, with guidelines like “Stay in contact with athletes remotely” or “Continue as best as possible”.

What was particularly surprising though was that, as shown in the table below, over 53% of respondents shared that they did not receive any guidance on how to remain in contact with their athletes. This highlights a clear opportunity for organizations to step up and provide staff with clear, specific guidance on how to handle this situation.

MORE REMOTE MONITORING METHODS NEEDED

One of the most meaningful data points to come out of the survey was how open staff, and likely athletes, are to using remote tools. While it was no surprise that training staff would be open to additional tools, what did surprise us is how dramatic that reported interest was!

As shown in the graph below, nearly 70% of respondents stated they are now more open to remote monitoring tools than in the past and over 60% of respondents felt that athletes are more open to remote monitoring tools than in the past.

Chart

Even when the impact of COVID-19 lessens, staff overwhelmingly agree (82%) that remote measurement will still be important.

Now, more than ever, elite sports staff need tools to better keep track of their athletes and ensure they stay healthy, fit and connected.

As shown in the table below, 58% of the coaches who participated in this survey belong to pro teams, vs 21% from college sports teams.

As shown in the table below, 58% of the coaches who participated in this survey belong to a soccer/football team, vs 13% worked for a basketball team.

CONCLUSION

Not surprisingly, COVID-19 has greatly disrupted the ability of staff to interact with their athletes. Over 90% of respondents agree or strongly agree that they have less awareness of what their athletes are doing on a day-to-day basis.

The biggest worries for staff are their ability to ensure their athletes stay in the proper shape (87%) and their ability to treat their athletes existing conditions (81%)

Organizations have been slow to provide guidance to staff with over 53% of respondents sharing they did not receive any guidance on how to remain in contact with their athletes

There is more acceptance of remote monitoring:

•69% of respondents are more open to remote monitoring tools than in the past

•62% of respondents feel athletes are more open to remote monitoring tools than in the past

Even when the impact of COVID-19 has lessened, staff overwhelmingly feel (82%) that remote measurement will still be important

This research was conducted by formsense, a San Diego-based startup making smart apparel that delivers real-time, remotely monitored biomechanical insights. Today, we’re focused on our mission to maximize performance, accelerate recovery, and reduce injuries for professional sports teams and their athletes. Tomorrow, formsense technology will be available to the millions whose daily lives are affected by problems with their form — with applications in physical therapy, at-home fitness, and amateur sports.

Visit us at formsense.com to request a demo of our technology.

🦠 🏀 Upside Analysis: Coronavirus’ Impact on Sports

🦠 🏀 Upside Analysis: Coronavirus’ Impact on Sports

Over the past few weeks, the Coronavirus has had a tremendous impact on the world of sports and tech. Many top’s sports events have been cancelled or postponed as a result of the virus. In addition, some pro players that might have been exposed to the Coronavirus, have been asked to trained away from the first team, and some large sports apparel and tech companies have been financially affected as they had to shut down stores or factories in China to reduce the spread of infection.

As of today, the coronavirus outbreak has sickened more than 76,100 people in Asia, according to statements from health officials. Many other cases are suspected but not confirmed. As of last week at least 2,245 people have died, all but nine in mainland China.

China is not the only country affected by the virus. Other countries such as South Korea, Japan and Singapore, have also been affected:

Source: BNO

So what is the Coronavirus? What are the symptoms of the Coronavirus and how does it spread?

A coronavirus is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in your nose, sinuses, or upper throat. Most coronaviruses aren’t dangerous.

But In early 2020, after a December 2019 outbreak in China, the World Health Organization (WHO) identified a new type, 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which can be fatal. The organization named the disease it causes COVID-19. The outbreak quickly moved from China around the world. It spreads the same way other coronaviruses do: through person-to-person contact.

Symptoms can show up anywhere from 2 to 14 days after exposure. Early on, they’re a lot like the common cold. You might notice:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Infections range from mild to serious. The virus can turn deadly if it leads to pneumonia, respiratory failure, or septic shock. Those most at risk of death are the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.

How contagious is the Coronavirus?

It is difficult to say how contagious the virus actually is but, as shown in the picture below, a recent WHO estimate published in Der Spiegel assumes there will be 1.4 to 2.5 newly infected people per sick individual.

Source: Statista

How to protect ourselves from the Coronavirus?

To protect ourselves from the Coronavirus, health authorities recommend to avoid any contacts with people who might have been affected by the virus. It is also recommended to wear a face mask, wash your hands frequently, avoid markets and crowded places, and seek medical care if symptoms appear.

Which major sports events and pro teams and leagues have been impacted by the Coronavirus?

—Sports events being cancelled or delayed:

As a result of the virus epidemic, many major sports events around the world have now been cancelled. For example, the Tokyo Marathon, one of the largest races in the world, is restricting its field to elite runners following new cases of the Coronavirus confirmed within Japan, according to the New York Times. The race is scheduled for March 1.

Picture: Tokyo Marathon

The Tokyo Marathon is the latest sporting event to have to cancel or curtail events due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Other events impacted include:

  • The Hong Kong Marathon, which was canceled.
  • The World Athletics Indoor Championships, which was postponed until 2021.
  • An LPGA Tour event in early March that was canceled.
  • World Rugby Seven Series events postponed from March to October.
  • Three qualifiers for the 2021 International Basketball Federation Asia Cup have been postponed.

There has been no word if the epidemic will impact Tokyo’s hosting of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

—Players training away from their first teams:

In addition, some players who might have been exposed to the virus in Asia, are now training away from their first teams due to novel coronavirus concerns following his arrival from China. This is the case of Manchester United’s newest signing Odion Ighalo who has been training away from the first team.

Picture: Odion Ighalo, Manchester United

Ighalo joined United on January 31 from Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua and although the risk posed is minimal, the city is hundreds of kilometers away from Hubei province which is at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, the club has opted to take precautionary measures.

Wha could be the economic impact of the Coronavirus on the sports industry?

— 2020 Tokyo Olympics to be cancelled or hosted at another location?

Over the past few weeks there has been a lot of question marks around the upcoming Olympic games in Tokyo this summer. Cancelling such event could financially impact organizers and insurers in a big way.

“Even though not all organizers buy extra epidemic cover, losses to cancellation insurers are already likely to be more than $100M, said Tim Thornhill, director, sales in entertainment and sport at Lloyd’s of London broker Tysers.”

Some experts are now pushing for the upcoming Olympics to be hosted at another location such as London:

“Given the ongoing disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak, I urge the Olympic Committee to seriously consider how London could stand ready to host the Olympics should the need arise,” Bailey said. “We have the infrastructure and the experience, and if I am elected I will make sure London is ready to host the biggest sporting celebration again, if we are called on in an hour of need.”

Former British sports minister Tracey Crouch even said it would be “perfectly possible with a touch of creative thinking” to host the event.

“Most of the infrastructure is already in place and ready to go; and it doesn’t all need to be in London,” she added.

— Big sports and tech companies also impacted by the virus:

Big sports and tech companies have also been financially impacted by the virus. In fact, last week two more companies releases advance information on the impact of the Cornonavirus on their business. Adidas and rival Puma said business in China was pummeled by the Coronavirus, which forced the German sporting-gear companies to shut stores even as fears of contagion turned off shoppers at other outlets.

Adidas experienced a 85% drop in the weeks since Jan. 25, the company said in an email. Puma said sales and earnings were suffering in the first quarter as it forecast weaker-than-expected earnings for the year.

The Sportswear companies’ bleak assessment adds to evidence that the coronavirus outbreak has caused the world’s growth engine to sputter, tamping demand for goods ranging from handbags to sneakers.

“Long-term, this will not have an impact on our industry and our brand,” Puma CEO Bjorn Gulden told journalists last week. “Can we reach the guidance or not? We will do everything we can.” Puma shares surged as much as 9.5% to a record, erasing a recent slide.

Picture: adidas

— Big tech companies also affected:

Earlier this month, major tech companies announced they would temporarily shut down all corporate offices, manufacturing factories, and retail stores across China as a result of the virus. These companies include Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Tesla, and Google. (Google has also closed offices in nearby Hong Kong and Taiwan.) Most of the closures were expected to last until Sunday February 9th, though some companies did not specify when exactly the offices would reopen.

Apple’s head of people, Deirdre O’Brien, wrote in an internal email that offices and contact centers are expected to open “next week,” while retail stores’ reopenings are still being determined.

Amazon has not yet announced office closures in Beijing, Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Guangzhou (it does not have an office in Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated), but is requiring employees to get approval for any essential travels to China. Employees who are traveling in and out of China are also advised to work from home for a period of 14 days before returning to the office.

Facebook has also stopped taking new orders for its latest Oculus Quest VR headset, citing the outbreak for the delay.

“ other companies we’re expecting some additional impact to our hardware production due to the Coronavirus. We’re taking precautions to ensure the safety of our employees, manufacturing partners and customers, and are monitoring the situation closely. We are working to restore availability as soon as possible,” the company said in a statement to Android Central.

Picture: Oculus, Facebook

Many pro teams are using equipments that are being made in China. As a result of that, equipment providers have taken precautions to make sure that players are not being exposed to equipments that might have been affected by the virus. This is the case of the hockey stick manufacturers.

For some New Jersey Devils players, the coronavirus has delayed manufacturing and shipment of hockey sticks. Matt Porter of the Boston Globe reported that approximately 75% of highly customized sticks are manufactured in China. Bauer and CCM are two companies that produce their high-end sticks in the area where the virus has forced all operations at their plants to cease.

Picture: New Jersey Devils player’s stick

“It’s definitely been tough. A lot of guys have actually started to use each others’ sticks,” Devils forward Kevin Rooney told Chris Ryan of NJ Advance Media. “Right now, I’m using (Blake) Coleman’s stick. It’s tough not having a lot of sticks because guys like to go through them. Even if they’re not breaking, guys like to switch, once a week, minimum, to try to use a new stick. Just the way they’re built, the pop in the stick goes away after a week.”

So what are the companies and technologies out there that can help prevent Coronavirus spread?

— Face temperature scanner:

An Addison-based company called Wello says its technology could help to stop the spread of the Coronavirus.

Picture: Wello

The WelloStation device scans your face to determine if you have a fever, without having to touch you.

“It’s completely automated like the ticketing systems at the airport and it’s artificial intelligence so it gives you a voice prompt, takes 2-3 seconds and reads your core body temperature,” said Wello CEO Rik Heller. “It’s used with infrared sensory measurement on a very specific spot on your forehead..it’s FDA cleared class 2 which is a big deal for us,” Heller said.  He notes that a fever is the first sign of contagiousness.

After your temperature is read, it will print out a ‘well being’ sticker to show you have been cleared. It has your picture, date and time on the sticker.

— App to determine the level of risk for catching coronavirus:

Chinese authorities have also developed and launched a smartphone app that allows people to check their level of risk for catching the coronavirus, according to the state-run news agency Xinhua.

The app allows users to scan a Quick Response (QR) code via apps such as Alipay, WeChat or QQ to see if they have been near someone who has been confirmed or suspected of being infected with the deadly virus.

Close contact is defined as being near someone who is or may be infected with no effective protection, even if the person was showing no symptoms at the time.

Users must register their phone number, enter their name and ID number. The app allows users to check the status of up to three other people by entering ID numbers. If they are found to have been in close contact with someone who is or may be infected, they are advised to stay at home and contact medical personnel.

The app was jointly developed by government departments and the state-owned China Electronics Technology Group, using data collected by health and transport authorities, according to Xinhua. The technology is possible due to the Chinese government’s high-tech surveillance apparatus, which includes a video camera network, facial recognition software and artificial intelligence.

— Virus tracker apps:

Chinese residents are also using mapping programs and travel trackers to avoid neighborhoods with infections of the coronavirus and to better prepare for the dangers they face.

Both the data mapping company QuantUrban and a third-party WeChat mini-program developer have created platforms that take official information on neighborhoods with confirmed cases and map it so users can gauge how close they are to infection sites.

While the WeChat program, called “YiKuang” or “Epidemic Situation,” covers the southern cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou, QuantUrban’s browser-based maps also cover nine other cities in Guangdong province.

“Shenzhen might have a major outbreak in the next few days, and government data comes out slowly,” said April, a Shenzhen-based manager who declined to give her full name. “Seeing the map is a psychological comfort. You can’t guarantee there won’t be fresh cases, but you can avoid an area that’s already hit,” she said.

Confirmed cases in Shenzhen have climbed rapidly, to 245 by last Monday, making the southern tech capital the most badly affected of China’s main cities, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. It has a large population of migrant workers from the heavily affected central provinces.

“We wanted to annotate the information on the map so that the public could better see how epidemic sites are distributed more intuitively and also remind everyone to make adequate protection,” said Yuan Xiaohui, QuantUrban’s co-founder and CEO.

Outlook: Clearly the Coronavirus has had notable consequences on the world of sports and tech worldwide. Delaying, or cancelling major sports events to avoid the spread of the virus is the right thing to do. In the future we expect more sports events to be cancelled or delayed and more sports and tech companies to be affected financially by the virus. “Will the Tokyo Olympics be cancelled or hosted in another location?” remains the one billion dollars question at the moment. But one thing is clear: It is better to take the proper precautions and take the financial loss rather than taking the risk of losing more lives along the way.

⚽ 📺 Clubs’ latest innovation? Teams branded OTT services

⚽ 📺 Clubs’ latest innovation? Teams branded OTT services

Dear Friends and Members,

Last week we saw the launch of the world’s first AR/VR headset by Lynx. Apple also reported that it is now selling more watches than Swiss watchmakers, and Lebron James paid tribute to Kobe with a classical dunk against the Houston Rockets. Lastly Real Madrid star Gareth Bale followed the footsteps of Shaq, Michael Jordan, Steph Curry, and many other top athletes by launching an esports venture.

This week, we published our latest Analysis: The Sports betting market: How technology will change the game, so be sure to sign up for our premium subscription by clicking the “subscribe now” button below.

Picture: NBA

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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!

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📰 Top Stories We’re Reading This Week 

🥽 LYNX Reveals Standalone MR Headset with Snapdragon XR2, Eye-tracking, & Novel Optics

🥽 NFL uses Mixed Reality to honor the NFL100 team prior to the SuperBowl

🥽 Barcelona unveils 24/7 streaming service Barça TV+

⌚  The four-year-old Samsung Gear S2 just got a surprise update

🎮  Gary Vaynerchuk Explains the Number One Reason He Invested in the Call of Duty League

🎮  Gareth Bale launches esports team for Fifa eClub World Cup

💸 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

🥽 LYNX Reveals Standalone MR Headset with Snapdragon XR2, Eye-tracking, & Novel Optics | Via: RoadToVR

French startup LYNX last week revealed the R-1, a standalone VR headset built for pass-through AR and powered by Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon XR2 chip. The enterprise-focused headset uses a novel lens design which makes it compact.

Lynx is a new player in the XR category; the small startup today revealed its first headset, the enterprise-focused Lynx R-1. Though it uses occluded displays (like a VR headset), the company says the R-1 is designed for pass-through augmented reality—with the capacity for both VR and AR in a single device, we’re calling this a mixed reality headset.

According to the company, the Lynx R-1 is set to release this summer, priced at $1,500.

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe that Lynx AR/VR headset sets a new bar in the AR/VR space. Granted $1500 is still out of reach for most consumers but it is a reasonable price for enterprise and compared to other devices like Hololens ($3k-$5k). We believe that some pro teams might be interested in using those AR/VR glasses to provide virtual training to players who are going through rehab. As we noted before the AR/VR space is set to merge.We expect the price of AR/VR glasses to come down over time. We also expect a new trend with AR/VR contact lenses. This is where companies like Emacula are set to play a key role there. More on that soon..

Picture: Lynx

🥽 NFL uses Mixed Reality to honor the NFL100 team prior to the SuperBowl | Via: NewscastStudio

Along with new insert graphics, augmented reality was also at the forefront of Fox’sSuper Bowl LIV coverage in Miami. The network featured a dynamic mixed reality presentation during the pregame festivities to celebrate the NFL’s 100 greatest, in honor of the league’s 100th season. Produced and designed by The Famous Group using The Future Group’s Pixotope solution, the piece created a series of virtual monitors and image frames on the field, intermixed with live cutaways to the honorees in attendance. The effect was created in real time, combining the live stadium shots with the graphics, taking into account lighting conditions inside Hard Rock Stadium, with rendering from Epic Games’ Unreal Engine.

Fox also used augmented reality elsewhere, throughout both in-game and wraparound coverage, including graphics connected to SkyCam footage with new optical tracking from SMT.

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe this was a great move by the NFL. When it comes to AR overlays on live TV, the NFL, through its broadcaster partners, has been a pioneer in that space, but other leagues such as the NBA are catching up. In fact last year, the NBA teamed up with Second Spectrum to show live statistical data of NBA players as AR overlays on ESPN. The NHL is also expected to go down that path soon. It will help enhance the fans experience, attract new sponsors and help increase viewership long term.

🥽 Barcelona unveils 24/7 streaming service Barça TV+ | Via: Insidersport

Reigning La Liga champions FC Barcelona has announced plans to launch a 24/7 streaming platform in the spring of this year. The subscription-based over-the-top (OTT) service has been named Barça TV+ and will feature video content, on-demand first team highlights, player interviews and archive footage.

Barcelona’s board member Dídac Lee stated: “Our competitors are no longer only the clubs playing football – there are new players we may not have expected ten years ago, such as Netflix, YouTube, Fortnite, MindCraft. Traditionally, we have been working with the biggest platforms in the world.

Barça TV+ is set to allow subscribers to live stream a host of Barcelona content, including B team matches and Barcelona women’s homes games as well as first team press conferences. Finally viewers will also have access to non-live content from the club’s other sports teams which includes its basketball and roller hockey teams.

Gullem Graell, Barcelona’s chief marketing officer, concluded: “It shows us that the platform where our strategy sits is extremely powerful.

“Instead of doing that, we have changed the frame of who our competitors are. If we only consider the sports clubs, we are already there; the job is done. If we are competing with other companies such as Netflix or Disney, we are way smaller.

“Until now, we leverage this potential through third-party platforms, which is where our fans normally consume the sports content. Today, while keeping the effort in this space, we are adding on top of that a direct to the fan with our own platforms.”

While the club has yet to confirm a price it has been announced that the amount will depend on the country in which the purchase is made.

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe this is a good move by FC Barcelona. As their execs pointed out, pro teams are facing increased competition from the likes of Netflix, Amazon, Disney who are seeing sports content as king and a way to attract new subscribers. So why couldn’t pro teams take a cut of the pie and bring this in house and launch their own OTT/video streaming service? This is part of a bigger trend around subscription based services which we highlighted in our 2020 sports tech predictions earlier this year. A few months ago, Real Madrid made headlines when it announced the launch of a Facebook subscription services with exclusive content for $2.77 per month. The math is fairly simple: Real Madrid has 174M fans globally, so assuming that only 1% of their fans sign up for the service, they would generate an additional $57.8M in incremental revenue every year. We expect other big clubs to follow suit and jump on the bandwagon.

Picture: Barcelona FC


🚑 Wearables, Health, Nutrition News

⌚  The four-year-old Samsung Gear S2 just got a surprise update | Via: Wareable

You can’t accuse Samsung of neglecting older watches, as it’s emerged the four-year-old Gear S2 smartwatch is in line for a new firmware update. It’s been a couple of years since the model last received any attention, though, as spotted by Sammobile, the watch’s latest software rollout will see battery life and security improvements. It’s not entirely clear how far the new update will stretch, or whether it’s limited to devices in certain territories, but users will be able to download it from the Galaxy Wearable app. From the app, simply head to ‘Watch Software’ before tapping ‘Download and install’.

We’re yet to see the 6.79MB file pop up in our app at the time of writing, but there are a couple of reports to suggest that the update will also bring the interface of the Galaxy Watch Active 2, the company’s latest smartwatch. Of course, it’s a bit of a surprise move by Samsung, particularly when it’s on the cusp of potentially launching another flagship of its smartwatch, the rumored Galaxy Watch 2.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe that this is a logical move by Samsung. It was actually a bit overdue as battery life and security issues are important to resolve in a timely manner. Moving forward we expect Samsung to innovate when it comes to the biosensing capabilities of its smart watch offering. One possible approach would be for them to team up with Valencell to add BP monitoring and sensing capabilities.

Picture: Samsung


🎮 eSports & Crypto-Currency News

🎮  Gareth Bale launches esports team for Fifa eClub World Cup | Via: Esports Observers

Gareth Bale has launched a new esports organisation called Ellevens Esports, with a team from the franchise set to make their debut at the Fifa eClub World Cup in Milan this week. The venture is co-owned by Bale and 38 Entertainment Group, founded by investor Jonathan Kark and former footballer Larry Cohen.

The Wales and Real Madrid winger has also invited gamers from around the world to participate in a talent hunt where they will be given a chance to sign a professional contract with Ellevens Esports.

“There are similarities between football and esports in that it takes real dedication and sacrifice to reach the top of your game,” Bale said in a statement.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe that this is a great move by Gareth Bale. Bale is following a big trend among pro athletes (Shaq, Rick Fox, Michael Jordan, Steph Curry, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant..) who have been investing and endorsing many esports ventures in order to capitalize on the fast growing esports market which passed the $1B in revenue for the first time last year.

Picture: Elleven eSports, Gareth Bale

🎮  Gary Vaynerchuk Explains the Number One Reason He Invested in the Call of Duty League | Via: Esports Observers

Last weekend, the Minnesota Røkkr hosted the first-ever home market event for the Call of Duty League in Minneapolis. From day one, the CDL will look to engage local fan bases for each of its 12 franchises as each plays host to league competition throughout the year.

The Overwatch League kicked off the city-based esports era in 2018, and that model has already provided at least on regional sponsorship (the Houston Outlaws and grocery store chain HEB) that would not have been viable otherwise. However, for Røkkr owner and VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuk, the localization model gives the CDL an advantage for more than just local sponsors.

“I’m less about the strategy of , Vaynerchuk told The Esports Observer. “I’m more into what it actually means to somebody who could be casual, or not aware at all, and the tribalization of local sports.”

⬆️ The Upside: We believe that Gary Vaynerchuk is pot on there. This is part of a bigger trend in the world of esports. As we mentioned in our 2020 sports tech predictions, we are starting to see the emergence of localized esports academies and events where pro teams and leagues are tapping into the local talent to create esports academies and teams. This is also where companies like esport supply are set to play a key role in helping pro teams and leagues set up local academies, facilities and esports programs.

Picture: Gary Vaynerchuk


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

  • Iguadalo’s NBA career might be on standby right now but he is turning into a true Venture Capitalist as he joins Comcast Ventures. Read on here.
  • North American organization FaZe Clan has entered into a $22.7M convertible loan facility. Read on here.

📊 Key Tech Sports Stats of The Week

$1.1T: The global Internet of Things (IOT) market is projected to reach $1.1T in revenue, with 25B connected devices, according to the GSMA.

Picture: GSMA

$20B: Instagram generated $20B in annual revenue in 2019.

$16B: Throughout 2019, Americans legally wagered a record $13B, according to data from the American Gaming Association. That is nearly double the $6.6B that was wagered legally across the U.S. in 2018.

The handles seen by each state with legalized sports betting in 2019, via the AGA:

  • Arkansas: $11 million
  • Delaware: $103 million
  • Indiana: $436 million
  • Iowa: $212 million
  • Mississippi: $369 million*
  • Nevada: $5.3 billion
  • New Hampshire: Sports betting launched 12/30/2019
  • New Jersey: $4.6 billion
  • New Mexico: N/A*
  • New York: N/A*
  • Oregon: $45 million*
  • Pennsylvania: $1.5 billion
  • Rhode Island: $246 million
  • West Virginia: $226 million

102M: 102M people watched the Super Bowl this year.

31M: Apple now sells more watches than Swiss watchmakers! Sales of Apple Watch jumped 36% with 31 million units sold in 2019. It now significantly exceeds the sales of a declining Swiss watch industry according to Strategy Analytic.

Picture: Apple

$3.3M: Here is a list of the top earners (monthly salary) among players in the French soccer league..is that fair? Ask PSG:)

50: For the first time in 50 years, Kansas City fans enjoyed an extraordinary evening. Their sleep stats showed for celebration.

Picture: Fullpower Technologies

x1.7: Microsoft’s commercial featuring 49ers offensive assistant coach Katie Sowers, had a 1.7x greater positive sentiment with female fans than the average commercial from technology brands during the game Sunday night, according to Zoomph’s latest NFL Report.

Picture: Katie Sower


📸 The Upside: Snapshots & video of The Week.

Video: Lakers’ LeBron James pays homage to Kobe Bryant by recreating classic dunk. Whether he did it on purpose is unknown, but Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James recreated a classic Kobe Bryant dunk last Thursday against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center.

Picture: Lebron James (LA Lakers)

Philippines pay tribute to Kobe and Gigi. A large drawing shows basketball legend Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna at a basketball court in Taguig, south of Manila, on Jan. 29, 2020.

Upside Analysis: Sports Betting Market: What’s ahead?

Upside Analysis: Sports Betting Market: What’s ahead?

This weekend the XFL introduced a live on-screen betting feature as part of their live experience. The idea? Enables fans to bet in real time while watching an XFL game.

More precisely, during XFL games on ABC and ESPN, the “score bug” displayed feature both the betting point spread and the over/under for the game.

Picture: XFL

It is worth pointing out that the “score bug” only featured those two popular football bets, but also the traditional things viewers are used to seeing: the score, game clock, down, and distance.

This initiative by the XFL is part of a new big trend in the world of elite sports. Live betting has gain great traction over the years as it present a new revenue opportunity for the leagues, local states, and fans. In this analysis, we will talk about the size of the sports betting market as well as future technology trends that will impact this market.

So how big is the global sports betting market?

International sports betting is estimated to have a market capitalization of $250B. According to Statista, licensed online sportsbooks (like the ones we review) account for upwards of $39.7B of this revenue.

The rest of these sports bets are staked at venues like casinos, at horse tracks, or other global conduits.

The US sports betting market is the world’s fastest growing sports betting market

In 2009, the sports betting market was valued at $20B. By 2016, it was valued at $40B.

With a present market capitalization of (conservatively) between $60-73B, the market has conservatively grown at a rate of $10B per year.

If this pace continues, American sports betting will occupy an increasingly significant share of the world market.

global sports betting market size USA graph

According to a recent Statista survey, over 50% of US citizens admitted to placing a bet on a sporting event at least once in their life.

Throughout 2019, Americans legally wagered a record $13B, according to data from the American Gaming Association. That is nearly double the $6.6B that was wagered legally across the U.S. in 2018.

The handles seen by each state with legalized sports betting in 2019, via the AGA:

  • Arkansas: $11 million
  • Delaware: $103 million
  • Indiana: $436 million
  • Iowa: $212 million
  • Mississippi: $369 million*
  • Nevada: $5.3 billion
  • New Hampshire: Sports betting launched 12/30/2019
  • New Jersey: $4.6 billion
  • New Mexico: N/A*
  • New York: N/A*
  • Oregon: $45 million*
  • Pennsylvania: $1.5 billion
  • Rhode Island: $246 million
  • West Virginia: $226 million

How many states have legalized sports betting in the US?

As shown in the table below, according to David Forman, the senior director of research at the American Gaming Association, 18 to 20 states in total could have sports betting in place a year from now.

Here’s where each state stands on legal sports betting:

How much money do US states make from Sports Betting Tax revenue?

A new report published by Richard C. Auxier of the Tax Policy Center finds that just over half the states that now allow sports betting are in line to meet their tax revenue projections.

Some states, most notably New Jersey, which allows online wagers, are set to far exceed their projections, while others, like Rhode Island, are falling well short. Officials say the shortfalls are likely the result of limited online gambling options and low consumer awareness of legal sports betting in those states, according to Bloomberg Tax.

Auxier’s report also notes that none of the state revenue projections for sports gambling revenue came close to representing 1% of annual general revenue.

“States can collect millions of dollars in tax revenue from legal sports betting, but that tax revenue will always be relatively small and volatile,” it says. “As such, politicians should not overpromise what the revenue will do for state budgets, and legislators absolutely should not make critical spending programs dependent on that revenue.”

The National Basketball Association and DraftKings announced a multiyear partnership that will make DraftKings an authorized sports betting operator of the league. And BetIndiana and Sportradar, the provider of sports data and content, inked a partnership to bring Sportradar’s real-time sports data and managed trading services to BetIndiana’s mobile sportsbook.

So how much are US major leagues expected to gain from sports betting in the coming years?

As shown in the graph below, the four major leagues (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB) are projected to generate a combined revenues of $4.2B per year through TV advertising, sponsorship, data/product revenue, media rights, merchandise and ticket sales all as a result of a legal, regulated sports betting market.

Indirect revenue from media rights, merchandise and ticket sales are expected to be the biggest revenue segment with $3.28B in projected revenue.

Among the major sports leagues, the NFL is expected to be the biggest earner with $2.3B in projected revenue from sports betting in the coming years.

What are the most popular sports bets around the world?

Soccer is the most popular sports as it has, by far, the greatest betting volume, closely followed by American football. The other big three North American leagues (MLB, NBA, NHL) receive a significant amount of betting volume, too.

Horse racing, while often categorized as a niche market, still receives heavy betting volume in the US, UK, France, Australia, and South Africa, which are all sizeable markets.

eSports is the “fastest” growing market in regards to “betting volume”

In terms of betting volume, eSports is the fastest-growing sports betting market today. The games may range from Starcraft to Player Unknown Battlegrounds. The global eSports market passed the $1B market in revenue last year, and is projected to create upwards of $1.5B in 2020.

According to a senior analyst at the market research firm Technavio, the increased popularity of esports is pushing bookmakers to allow bets on many different esports matches, now including golf, tennis, and rugby. This growing volume is driving revenue generation across the sports betting industry.

As esports transform from a budding industry to a more fully-formed, established one, it will generate a significant revenue stream for the broader sports betting market.

What will be the future of sports betting?

The digital revolution (internet, mobile..) has been a key factor to drive the popularity of sports betting. In fact, the massive projected growth figures for sports betting are in large part due to the proliferation of internet around the world, and sportsbooks’ subsequent investment in their digital platforms, as a response to the demand for online sports betting. It’s never been easier for people around the globe to connect to the internet, and subsequently, start betting via sportsbooks.

The penetration of digital sports betting goes beyond laptops and desktops. Last year, 45% of sports betting took place via mobile.

So which emerging technologies beyond mobile will impact sports betting?

We believe that several emerging technologies will greatly impact the world of sports betting in the coming years, starting with sensor data, AR and 5G.

— Live TV AR experiences with players’ statistical data set to become the norm in 2020 among leagues, and broadcasters and transform live betting. 

As we noted in our 2020 Sports tech predictions, we expect live AR experience with players’ statistical data to become the norm across leagues, broadcasters. This will have a profound impact on live sports betting. Today, as shown in the table below, many broadcasters (ESPN, CBS, etc..), leagues (NBA, NHL, NRL, NFL Laliga…), and tournaments (Panasonic Open, etc.) are starting to offer this type of experience.

Picture: Sports Tech Advisors

These type of AR sports experiences on live TV will become even more compelling — and ubiquitous — over time. In 2020, we expect more leagues (e.g. MLS, FFF, etc.), tournaments, and broadcasters to jump on the bandwagon to offer such AR TV experiences. In 2021, we also expect to see more live AR experiences with players’ live biometric data (HR, fatigue level, stress level, hydration, etc..).

Once 5G adoption reach a large scale, we expect live betting to become a key part of the AR TV experience where it will enable fans to bet on the next play after reviewing a critical play via an AR replay with valuable info (speed, hydration level, fatigue level) during live sports games on TV.

These AR experiences will also help broadcasters increase viewership and bring new sponsors. Teams will also be able to attract new fans, new sponsors, which will help increase their top line.

— AI video highlights set to enhance the betting experience

In the coming years, AI based video highlights are also set to become an important part of the sports betting experience.

“One hot opportunity is to package the live highlights for in-game betting providers, said Shichman, the CEO of WSC Sports a leading AI video highlight startup.

In Europe, such in-game wagers comprises as much as 70% of the “handle.” In turn, having automated systems that create live highlights can be used to pull fans into a match they might otherwise not have been watching,

“It can be used to attract users,” Shichman said. “There might be a soccer game where the underdog scores first. A push notification can be sent, and the odds are changing dramatically. Fans are getting real-time video. We’re basically super powering those rights holders.”

Outlook: In the coming years, we expect the sports betting market to continue to grow across all the regions. The US will remain the biggest market and esports will remain the fastest growing sports betting segment.

We also envision a future where fans will be able to attend a live sports game, wearing a pair of AR glasses and they will be able to bet in real time on the next play. They will be able to make bets and adjust their bets in real time based on a variety of data points (e.g. sensor data, AI based video highlights). They will also be able to compete in real time with their friends which will make sports betting even more interactive. So are you ready for the future of sports betting? We certainly are.

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