Notwithstanding the cratering of viewership in last month’s Super Bowl LV, streaming services could be poised to snatch what has been the last vestige of appointment television: live sports, according to at least one influential analyst.
According to Nielsen, 96.4 million homes watched Super Bowl LV on TV, the lowest number since 2007. About 5.7 million homes streamed the game, the highest level for that metric ever.
In a research note that was issued before those ratings numbers were released, MoffettNathanson media analyst Michael Nathanson pointed to the growing trend of younger viewers migrating to streaming video, and that it would likely mean that sports would have to follow them. Nathanson didn’t expect big tent sporting events like the Super Bowl or the World Series to switch exclusively online, but he said games from various professional and college sports leagues, a staple of cable networks like TBS, TNT and regional sports networks owned by teams, could be in danger.
Fan engagement has experienced a seismic shift as Covid forced a change in the way we consume sports. The move to online and digital had already begun but was accelerated by the pandemic. It has become critical for organizations to find alternative fan engagement and revenue generating initiatives for fans who prefer to consume sports and events through their technology as well as in person.
Teams must digitally transform to enable fan engagement smart stadiums and through fans devices to create loyalty and nurture loyalty. We’ve all seen apps, social and AR/VR begin to change the game, but now we have a new player that has come hard and fast, the blockchain. With the explosion of NBA Top Shot we are seeing the blockchain being introduced as a game changer in fan engagement and revenue generation in a key growth demographic that teams must to take advantage of.
With blockchain technology, users get access to a decentralized network which facilitates transactions in real-time that is further visible on the documents in real-time. As a distributed ledger system it makes the process of sharing documents more secure and transparent, which as you can imagine has limitless potential in ticketing, game experiences and merchandise as well as integrated experiences for fans to “own” a piece of the action through the purchase of moments(like Top Shot) or other crypto collectibles that have absolutely blown up in the last few months. With blockchain tokens, organizations can deliver loyalty programs that encourages sports fans to become more involved as well as to earn rewards for their involvement and have votes and exclusive benefits only available to token holders. AC Milan and Barcelona have had extremely successful fan token rollouts and have taken advantage of a completely new revenue stream. These uses only scratch the surface of the possibilities of blockchain, the organizations that can be the most creative and forward thinking will reap the most reqards and have the opportunity to truly transform fandom.
There is an unlimited array of uses for the blockchain and crypto collectibles and token available for organizations. The key is to work together to create a strategy and get ahead of the game for utilizing the tech to drive revenue in your organization. This is a brand new vertical and a chance for teams to be leaders in the space and create more runway for the business to generate revenue in an industry that is looking for new ways to grow and engage the key young demographic that is digital first. If the teams with the IP don’t do it first it will allow third parties to come in and take that revenue much like what happened in the fantasy sports space, which makes it even more important for teams to act now to take advantage of this space while it still evolves.
For everyone who has had trouble getting in on NBA Top Shot, The UFC is jumping into the crypto collectibles fray. Here's how that will work. With all these crypto collectible offerings designed mainly for flippers, the important thing is getting in early. Such an exciting new fan engagement vertical.
"UFC on Flow offers fans an unprecedented crypto-enabled experience: unique or limited edition items available for collectors to buy or win, digital assets trading on an open marketplace, and games that make players real stakeholders in the value they help create.
UFC is one of the fastest growing sports of the last decade with 314 million global fans and fighters in over 35 countries. UFC fans are some of the most loyal and passionate in the world of sports — this makes a blockchain experience a natural next step for the franchise.
Because apps and digital assets on Flow exist on a decentralized network, they are also open for developers around the world to build new products, creating an amazing amount of choice for consumers.
For example, any developer can build a gallery application for fans to display their collectibles, or a financial market tracking the price movement of digital assets in all the different games on the network. Third parties can build trading houses, pawn shops, and reselling services — anything demanded by users."
The Minnesota Twins have stepped up efforts to demonstrate they can safely accommodate fans at Target Field when the new Major League Baseball (MLB) season commences by agreeing a partnership with mobile-first technology company Venuetize.
Through the agreement, Venuetize has been engaged to help deliver contactless ordering and payments for concessions and retail items at Target Field. The collaboration will allow Twins fans to order and pay for food, beverages and merchandise via the MLB Ballpark app on their mobile devices.
Combined with the MLB Ballpark app’s digital ticket delivery, the Twins’ partnership with Venuetize seeks to allow for a touchless, single-app fan journey through key areas of the Target Field experience, from frictionless entry to a contactless process for ordering and purchasing food, beverage and merchandise.
Earlier this month, the Twins agreed a deal for 3M to become its official science partner. Over the first few months of the partnership, 3M will work with the Twins and the team’s ballpark operations to supply cleaning, disinfecting, hygiene and physical distancing solutions at Target Field.
No fans were allowed during the 2020 MLB regular season, although a limited number of spectators were permitted for post-season games at Globe Life Field, the new home of the Texas Rangers. The 2021 MLB season gets underway on April 1, with the Twins’ first home game being against the Seattle Mariners on April 8.
Commenting on the Venuetize deal, Twins president and CEO, Dave St. Peter, said: “Delivering opportunities for a contactless experience in as many areas of Target Field as possible is a primary factor in our ongoing discussions with Governor Tim Walz, public health officials and Major League Baseball regarding a pathway to the safe return of Twins fans to our ballpark.
“The ability to order and pre-pay for concessions and merchandise from your seat, on your phone, before quickly picking up your pre-packaged selection, minimises concourse congestion and potential touchpoints, while maximising fan safety and convenience. Venuetize is a proven industry leader, we are grateful for their seamless integration with the MLB Ballpark app, and we look forward to further collaboration that enhances the fan experience.”
Upon returning to Target Field, Twins fans will be able to open the MLB Ballpark app, use the mobile ordering function to select their desired food and drink, and complete payment via their personal mobile wallet – all from their mobile device, and without leaving their seat.
Pre-packaged order pick up from separate, designated ‘grab-and-go’ stations will complete the contactless dining and/or retail experience, while greatly reducing lines at traditional concession stands.
Venuetize this month moved to enhance its mobile technology and e-commerce platform by partnering up with location-based marketing services provider Gimbal. The venture between the two companies aims to bring real-time location capabilities to the sports, entertainment, and hospitality industries, augmenting the fan and guest experience via rich location-based services inside and outside venues.
The Florida Panthers NHL ice hockey team also agreed partnerships with Venuetize and software company Bypass to provide cashless experiences for fans at BB&T Center. Venuetize will serve as the Panthers’ mobile partner, while Bypass, which is now part of Fiserv, became the team’s point-of-sale system partner for BB&T Center.
Commenting on the Twins deal, Todd San Jule, Venuetize’s vice-president of product and innovation, said: “Venuetize has been fortunate to work with several professional sports teams and leagues that have held events with fans back at venues. We can already tell from the data that mobile payments are reducing order time and improving the overall fan experience.”
The current trend in sports that combines fan engagement, the collecting boom and the crypto frenzy is built on the blockchain. NBA Top Shot has emerged as the early leader in this area with a product that is all the rage in key demos. It's a brand new exciting vertical that has some legs to it and looks to be the future of fan engagement and has application into many different areas of sport. Let's take a deeper look.
"What is NBA Top Shot? It sells packs of Moments – often five of them – which are video clips of basketball plays with animations. Much like physical cards, users won’t know what’s in the pack before they open it. Each Moment has a nonfungible token (NFT), which is unique to that specific Moment. With an NFT when a Moment is traded, its authenticity can be proven. And without the need to send physical memorabilia, the transfer is very quick. The NFT token standard was first created by Dapper Labs through its success with the CryptoKitties app back in 2017.
It seems nonfungible tokens are the third major application to break through on public blockchains after cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance (DeFi). And possibly the first mainstream one.
With Bitcoin passing a trillion in market capitalization and frothy markets everywhere, Dapper got its timing right."
The Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) and StreamAMG have signed a multi-year partnership to launch a new OTT service. The service will give basketball fans in Canada, the United States, and internationally access to live CEBL games, as well as on demand content including highlights, interviews, and features.
The first professional sports league in Canada to return after Covid-19 shut down sports nationwide, the CEBL Summer Series was viewed by millions of Canadian and international viewers in July 2020. The CEBL will build on the series’ record engagement with a new OTT service that makes it easier than ever for sports fans to enjoy live pro basketball, and provides a year-round destination for video content.
Commissioner and CEO of the CEBL Mike Morreale said of the new partnership “The CEBL is excited to partner with StreamAMG to launch this new OTT service. We see it as vital to our continued growth, and StreamAMG’s technical expertise and experience in global sports gives us everything we need to take Canadian pro basketball to new audiences at home and abroad."
To power the all-new CEBL video service, StreamAMG will provide its end-to-end OTT platform, including a customised OTT website based on their StreamPlay frontend framework. The CEBL will also benefit from CloudMatrix, the agency’s award-winning on demand content entitlement and distribution system, and employ its CloudPay platform to handle subscriptions, payment and user management.
Mark Silver, StreamAMG’s General Manager, North America added "We’re delighted to be working with the CEBL to take Canadian basketball to more fans than ever before. The League’s rapid growth and its approach to digital is impressive, and we’re excited to support its OTT ambitions in the 2021 season and beyond.”
The CEBL is planning to officially launch the new OTT platform internationally before the start of the 2021 season.
Elys Game Technology Extends Partnership with Sportradar to Provide Live U.S. Sports Data on its Betting Platform
Elys Game Technology, Corp., an interactive gaming and sports betting technology company, announced today that it extended its strategic partnership with Sportradar, the leading global provider of sports betting and sports entertainment products and services, ahead of the launch of its sports betting platform in the U.S.
Under the terms of the new agreement, Elys will gain access to official pre-game and in-play data for major U.S. sports from Sportradar. This new partnership affords Elys the ability to offer a wide array of live, in-game wagering options at its planned future U.S. retail sports betting locations, commencing in Washington DC, which is expected to launch in the coming months.
Matteo Monteverdi, CEO and President of Elys Game Technology, Corp., stated, “We are pleased to strengthen our partnership with Sportradar to include industry-leading U.S. sports data for live in-game wagers on our sports betting platforms. The new agreement further enhances our product portfolio for live streaming sporting events and should open up new opportunities in the sizable U.S. sports betting market ahead of our scheduled first U.S. deployment in Washington DC. According to Morgan Stanley, the U.S. sports betting market is expected to generate nearly $7 billion in revenue by 2025. We believe that Sportradar’s cutting edge technology, superior data and analytics will enable us to execute our vision of building a premier, end-to-end sports betting solution for European and North American gaming operators.”
Eduard Blonk, Chief Commercial Officer of Sportradar, stated, “We’ve been long-time partners with Elys, a trusted provider of innovative wagering solution services within the European market. This expansion of our partnership in the U.S. is a natural next step given Elys’ growth trajectory. We look forward to working together and bringing a unique betting experience for Elys’ loyal customers for the upcoming future sports seasons.”
Extreme Networks, a cloud-driven networking company, today announced it is the Official Wi-Fi Solutions Provider of Major League Baseball (MLB). Beginning with the 2021 MLB season, Extreme will deliver in-stadium Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi analytics in 16 MLB ballparks to improve the fan and media experience, with installations scheduled through 2026. Further, Extreme will power the network at MLB's Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach, Florida.
MLB is the most historic sports league in North America and has led the professional sports industry into the 21st century by leveraging tech-driven insights. With an emphasis on data and analytics, MLB has directly advanced how players train and play, how managers make rosters and in-game decisions, and how fans experience the game. Extreme's advanced networking solutions, which blend state-of-the-art cloud, mobility, and analytics capabilities, have made it the choice of leading professional sports franchises and leagues. As the emphasis on technological reliability, network capability, and data accuracy grows, Extreme is positioned to support MLB and improve how the League's venues deliver enhanced network experiences for fans, players, and staff.
Chris Marinak, Chief Operations & Strategy Officer, MLB
"Our pursuit of adopting best-in-class technology serves the dual purpose of helping Major League Baseball continue to advance the sport while also engaging with fans of all generations in new ways. Specifically, our network requirements not only demand the highest levels of reliability but also capability to support the data, applications, and devices which enable us to provide minute level of details and insights. With Extreme's support, we know we will deliver an improved experience for everyone in these ballparks."
Ed Meyercord, President and Chief Executive Officer, Extreme Networks
"Major League Baseball is a pioneer in using technology to advance how fans interact with the sport. Extreme's industry leading solutions, which leverage state-of-the-art cloud, mobility, and analytics capabilities, will help the league, its teams, and fans connect data, devices, and people together in the most effortless manner possible. As lifelong baseball fans, we are privileged to support Major League Baseball in its relentless effort to provide data-driven, next-level experiences at every game."
Realife Tech, the Experience Automation Platform working with the world's biggest entertainment destinations and events, announced today a five-year partnership with Southampton Football Club. This partnership will see the launch of the new Saints Official mobile app.
The app will connect the club's fan engagement platforms and be the ultimate destination for Saints news, match updates, video content and everything fans at home need to keep stay connected with Southampton FC. Alongside content and best-in-class fan engagement features such as quizzes, polls and an interactive photo wall, fans at home will also receive special offers and online shopping opportunities for official Southampton FC merchandise through the club store.
Realife Tech's new Covid Safety Hub is also integrated into the app and is capable of delivering a safety-minded experience to each guest before, during, and after an event, through fully contactless solutions. This means that once fans are able to attend games at St. Mary's again, the app will double up as a matchday companion. Through the app, fans will be able to download and share their tickets, then scan them at the gates for entry on matchdays. In addition to this, stadium visitors will be able to order Food and Beverage through the app, receive a notification when their order is ready to collect, and then contactlessly collect from their chosen concession.
When the stadium re-opens, the app will also include a Premier League first, allowing fans to book and pay for tickets natively in the app - completing a best-in-class digital experience for Saints fans.
"We are thrilled to be working with another fantastic Premier League partner to help football fans receive the news and information they want to know in-venue and at home," said Adam Goodyer, CEO and Founder of Realife Tech. "When fans are able to enjoy matches in person again, functionality like mobile ticketing, ticket sharing and contactless F&B ordering will help create a more seamless and secure experience for all."
"We're excited to have developed our official app alongside Realife Tech using industry-leading technology to bring our fans closer to the action," said David Thomas, Chief Commercial Officer at Southampton FC. "The app will transform how we engage with our fans and we also look forward to seeing the benefits it will bring to match days at St Mary's when we're able to welcome them back."
Realife Tech's technology will be available through the Southampton F.C. mobile app, delivered via integration partners SecuTix, Sitecore and Two Circles. Learn more at realifetech.com.
Satisfi Labs and AEG Team up to Launch AI Powered Conversational Virtual Assistants for the LA Kings' and LA Galaxy’s Apps and Websites
Satisfi Labs, the conversational AI platform for destinations and experiences, is announcing a new partnership today with AEG to integrate virtual assistants for the official apps and websites of the LA Kings and LA Galaxy sports franchises. The multi-year deal, brokered by AEG Global Partnerships, includes making Satisfi Labs an official partner of the LA Galaxy and LA Kings, and will bring an AI-powered virtual assistant to fans visiting the team apps and websites for real-time conversation and enhanced engagement. The addition of the virtual assistant will also directly benefit fans in the future when they return to STAPLES Center and Dignity Health Sports Park to watch the teams play live and in-person.
As an official partner, Satisfi Labs will be woven into the fabric of both the LA Kings’ and LA Galaxy’s team assets. Satisfi Labs creates custom and conversational search engines for destinations and live entertainment experiences. With partnerships across most of the nation’s professional sports leagues, the company has a long track-record of successfully integrating AI and voice assistants for professional sports and venues in order to optimize the fan experience.
“Satisfi Labs’ conversational tools are invaluable to the fan experience,” added Aaron LeValley, senior vice president, business operations and strategy, AEG Sports/LA Kings. “Whether you’re attending an event in-person or watching from the comfort of home, being able to access information about your favorite team in real-time changes the game. We are always looking for partners who have a passion for sports and the fans who support them, and we can’t wait to see what Satisfi Labs has in store for the future.”
“Bringing new technology experiences to the world of live events is something that Satisfi Labs is very passionate about,” said Don White, CEO and co-founder of Satisfi Labs. “As an official partner of AEG starting with the LA Galaxy and LA Kings, we get a chance to support some of our favorite teams while helping their avid fan bases feel even more involved and connected all year long. As the first of many partnerships with beloved teams serving loyal fan communities around the country, we’re looking forward to the start of the 2021 seasons and are thrilled to enrich the fan experience with the help of our technology.”
The new LA Kings and LA Galaxy branded virtual assistants will give fans the opportunity to ask team-related questions and get on-demand answers in return. Fans visiting the team’s apps and websites will gain real-time conversational access to a variety of information including player stats, in-game scores, team standings, and more all year-round. Satisfi’s virtual assistant will also be able to answer fan’s safety-related questions, ticketing inquiries, and will be integral to helping promote a safe and positive experience both at home as well as on the ground when fans eventually return to in-person game days. Satisfi’s AI platform will also allow the teams to better understand fan behaviors and trends, unlocking the full potential of conversational search to improve customer service and offerings.
“We’ve entered into this partnership with Satisfi Labs with the long-term goal of growing and expanding our relationship across the AEG portfolio,” said Josh Veilleux, senior vice president, AEG Global Partnerships. “Satisfi Labs is bringing a branded, AI-powered, virtual assistant to each team, which unlocks a new level of team access for LA Galaxy and LA Kings fans. We look forward to building upon this and evolving the fan experience through technology for many years to come.”
Fans can get a taste of the new AI-powered conversational virtual assistants on the LA Galaxy and LA Kings apps and websites starting this month. For more information about Satisfi Labs, please visit www.satisfilabs.com.