Hey Sports Tech Fans,
As I am sure you are all aware, sports and the basketball world lost a legend over the weekend in Kobe Bryant.
An outpouring of emotion, sympathy and stunned silence emerged with teams in the NBA taking an 8 second and 24 second violation penalty in honour of Kobe’s shirt numbers while at the Lakers.
Kobe’s influence was worldwide.
He spoke fluent Italian and Spanish and as a result had a huge following in both countries.
He was also a giant of the game in Asia and was often the face alongside Yao Ming when the NBA went all in on China.
He was also an ambassador for Kobe beef and even had a cut named after him.
But his influence went far beyond the court and by a lot of estimations was on the path to being a billionaire sports star with his investments and companies he had started.
It was only a couple of weeks ago that he was helping promote the partnership of Body Armour with the MLS.
Body Armour was among his early investments, he invested $6 million in 2013 and with Coca Cola investing as a minority shareholder in 2018, that investment was worth $200 million on paper.
That is just one example of Kobe’s business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit that will live on.
There are some great articles below that outline his influence off the court in business, in content creation, book writing, Oscar winning animation from his studio among others.
Sports has lost a true great but his influence will live on with his business interests, his academy and in his highlight reel of a career.
Elsewhere we saw Activision and YouTube sign an exclusive deal for esports streaming for massive titles like Call of Duty and Overwatch as the streamer wars take on a different form in deals between gaming publishing giants and tech giants who are taking aim at Twitch’s 75% market share.
A report suggests that $6.8 billion will be wagered on the Super Bowl in a mix of legal, illegal and social betting.
ESPN will have 500 shows airing on streaming platforms like ESPN+ as well as on others like YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat. This is a huge turn around as the company was the poster child of the cord cutters and cord nevers, with traditional TV subscriptions falling year after year in recent times.
They are making massive waves in digital now and have a clear vision of how to expand this to reach new audiences and most importantly as a way to bring users back into their subscription services. Digital revenue grew 92% year over year!
Barstool Sports have sold 36% of their stock to Penn National Gaming for $135 million in cash and $28 million in stock in the first of what I expect to be many deals involving content businesses in the sports space by gambling companies.
Gambling companies will be looking for content companies to give them a huge fan base of sports fans to convert to gambling customers in the US.
In the UK a conversion to a gambling customer can cost $300 per user, so having your own content creation company that has an existing following is a clever way try and convert users.
Barstool is a fascinating brand that is loved and loathed in equal measure, but their ability to generate mind share in an industry as competitive as sports news is telling as they understand digital.
Their move to video and podcast/radio was a great way to increase their following and minutes spent per user in their brand.
Writing blogs on news that changes so quickly in an effective race to the bottom to generate content was an unsustainable model as ad blockers have surged.
They have created personalities and a brand that people are passionate about.
It remains to be seen how this move will pan out but I expect them to continue as normal and to win over just as many fans as they piss off.
We also have a great video from the Wall Street Journal looking at the controversial Nike VaporFly running shoe that can improve a runners time by 4%.
Have a great sporting week,