👓 🏃‍♂️ Latest Tech in Sports? AR Coaching Glasses for Runners. Launching Upside Guest Writers Series & Forum Discussion

Dear Colleague,

We hope you had a great week last week. This week we are kicking off our Upside guest writers series. In the coming weeks we will publish a series of articles and analyses from various experts (e.g. sports performance/cryotherapy, biofeedback, 5G/WiFi 6 strategies in stadium, etc..). As part of that, on Thursday we are also launching our online forums on our Upside platform so don’t forget to create join our online community by clicking on the button below to join the conversation:

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Here is our schedule of guest writers and articles for the coming weeks:

  • August 13: Article title: “Introducing the idea of Cognitive Fitness”. Author: Len Zaichkowsky, world's class expert in biofeedback/psychophysiology, and cognitive fitness. Works with top teams (Warriors/NBA, Penguins/NHL, etc..). 

  • August 17: Article title: “Whole-body cryotherapy multi exposures speed up performance supercompensation during the taper in functionally overreached endurance athletes”.Author: Christophe Hausswirth,PhD, Professor, world's expert in hydration, nutrition & Cryotherapy. Works with Serena Williams and top athletes.

  • August 24: Article title: “5G, Wi-Fi 6 and the roar of the Crowd”. Author: Pete DeNagy, Founder IoT America / Managing Principal, Acommence Advisors. Pete DeNagy is the former GM of Samsung Enterprise.

Last week, the NHL season officially resumed in the US and Canada with several NHL players taking a knee in support of the Black Lives Matters movement. The NBA owners also announced their plan to allocate $300M launch the NBA Foundation with the NBPA to create “greater economic empowerment in the Black community.” The MLB’s opening weekend saw record numbers (4M viewers on the opening night) with more than twice the number of viewers as 2019 and ESPN’s first 12 broadcasts averaged 1.16 million viewers, a 34% increase from 2019. In addition, the Big 12 conference plans to adopt a 10-game football schedule this year. A group including actor and former WWE star Dwayne Johnson “The Rock”, also agreed to purchase the XFL for about $15 million, according to a news release issued last Monday morning. Lastly the Champions’ league also resumed last week.

In the world of AR/VR and digital, PFL launched a free MMA OTT platform, while the F1 federation teamed up with YouTube. Ghost Pacer launched a companion app which provides an augmented reality running coach designed for runners. In the wearable and connected fitness world, Garmin launched a new smartwatch (Forerunner 45 Plus).. A new report revealed new specs about Amazfit Band 6. In the world of esport, the NBA named Olybet as its official betting partner, while some NBA players secured investment in blockchain-based game developer Dapper Labs.


This week we had the honor to interview Kai Bond, partner at Courtside Ventures, a leading sports tech VC, focused on early-stage sports, fitness, and gaming companies.  Kai is a repeat founder, starting 3 companies and has spent the last 5 years as an early stage investor in NYC.

Throughout our conversation, we talked about his background (3x founder, Comcast Ventures, Samsung NEXT, Microsoft..), how he got into venture capitalism, and his view on the esport and gaming market and his advice for startups looking to raise money.

Listen to Kai Bond's podcast interview


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

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

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

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


📰 Top Stories We’re Reading This Week 

🤼  PFL boosts fan engagement with free MMA OTT platform

🏎️ F1 teams up with YouTube

👓 An augmented reality running coach designed by runners, for runners

⌚ Garmin launches Forerunner 45 Plus: Its budget watch just got even better

⌚ The Amazfit Band 6 is the Alexa-toting Mi Band 5 we've been waiting for

🎮 NBA names Olybet as official betting partner

🎮 NBA players secure investment in blockchain-based game developer Dapper Labs

💸 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

🤼  PFL boosts fan engagement with free MMA OTT platform | Via: Insider Sport

MMA organisation the Professional Fighters League (PFL) has launched its own OTT platform, giving fans free access to a variety of original content and PFL’s fight library. The PFL MMA app is expected to increase fan engagement and potential customer growth through the use of the free platform. In order to ensure that the app remains commercially beneficial to the organisation it will monetise the platform using sponsorship and advertising opportunities. Additionally, microtransaction purchases for fans tied to gaming and exclusive content will also be used.

PFL CEO Peter Murray stated:  “With the launch of our first OTT platform, we’re excited to fulfill the growing global demand for our product by providing fight fans around the world with free access to premium PFL content wherever, whenever and however they want to consume it. Professional Fighters League is a media and content company. As we continue to grow, innovate, and reimagine MMA, we have placed an emphasis on engaging fans all year long through impactful storytelling and unprecedented access to the sport, our fighters, and the action inside the cage”

The platform will feature PFL’s entire fight list including never-before-seen World Series of Fighting match-ups. Moreover, though PFL Studios, the app will showcase original content such as behind-the-scenes footage and exclusive interviews. In order to create the OTT platform the PFL has teamed up with ViewLift to offer end-to-end solutions for creating, launching, and monetising video applications across mobile, over-the-top, connected TV and game consoles.

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe this is a good move by the PFL to launch its own OTT platform. ’s decision to launch a free OTT application could prove to be a smart decision if the platform is marketed well so it can reach a worldwide audience. If so then it will undoubtedly increase its fan base whilst also opening up commercial opportunities with potential sponsors through the PFL MMA app. You can check out our latest analysis on sports teams’ OTT strategies here.

Picture: MMA, UFC.

🏎️ F1 teams up with YouTube | Via: Insider Sport

Formula 1 has announced that for the first time ever it will broadcast a Grand Prix for free on YouTube including everything from practice sessions, qualifying, to the race day itself, across selected European markets. The partnership between Formula 1 and YouTube sees the Eifel Grand Prix in Germany be livestream on the competition’s official channel in Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Additionally, YouTube will also be provided with additional content such as race previews, highlights, and analysis. Adam Crothers, Formula 1’s head of digital media rights stated: “We are thrilled to be working with YouTube on such an exciting project.

“As we continue to diversify our media distribution strategy and expand our digital offering, it is imperative that we engage fans who consume mediums differently and YouTube offers us the platform to achieve that. “Partnering with YouTube also ensures we continue our pursuit of engaging new audiences in new ways to grow the F1 fan base whilst continuing to innovate our media offering for new and existing fans.”

The Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring in Germany is set to begin on Sunday, October 11.

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe that this is a good move by both the F1 Federation and Google/YouTube. It will help the F1 Federation further inncrease its viewership and digitize its business. Of note, in 2019 F1 broadcasted to 1.9 billion total audience. It also fits well with its esports strategy where Formula One's Esports Virtual Grands Prix recently achieved 30 million views across TV and digital platforms during the coronavirus-enforced lockdown period.

picture : F1 car.

👓 An augmented reality running coach designed by runners, for runners. | Via: VR Scout

There’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition, especially when it comes to physical fitness. Unfortunately, finding a reliable training partner compatible with your specific workout goals can often prove difficult, especially in a post COVID-19 world. Ghost Pacer aims to take the stress away from coordinating runs, allowing you to select the route and speed of an AR holographic avatar and race against it in real-time; any time, any place. In addition to going head-to-head with on-demand workout partners, you can also challenge fellow Ghost Pacer users as well as race against yourself by revisiting old workouts.

“It’s hard to speculate, but it seems the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated a preexisting trend of the average work schedule becoming more flexible and including options for telecommuting,” stated CEO AbdurRahman Bhatti during a conversation with VRScout. “As schedules become more varied the need for on-demand fitness technology will grow, and we are aiming squarely at meeting that need for runners.” “Furthermore, there are significant implications for areas such as yoga and physical therapy – slower types of exercise to which form is critical, and we are actively targeting a move to indoor-compatible technology as the next step on our roadmap (assuming a successful launch of the current iteration) to provide for those needs.”

Here’s how it works: using the Ghost Pacer companion app, users can select a target pace or a previous workout to race against. A holographic avatar will appear on the track/road/path, allowing them to race against their digital adversary for competitive edge; slow down and the hologram will leave you behind, keep on pace and the model will jog side-by-side with you throughout your run. Users can even integrate their existing Strava runs into their training, opening up access to thousands of other pre-determined routes. At the time of this writing Ghost Pacer sits $22,464 above its original funding goal of $25,000 with 29 days left to go in the Kickstarter campaign. Those interested in learning more can visit ghostpacer.com/blogs/#.

⬆️ The Upside:  We think this is an interesting AR concept and we could see some players and coaches using it while running. That being said having to wear some AR glasses seems a bit of a stretch. But the glasses do not seem to be too heavy. It will be interesting to see how much traction this AR startup will get in the coming years.

video : Video montage about the Ghost Pacer Headset.


🚑 Wearables, Health, Nutrition News

Garmin launches Forerunner 45 Plus: Its budget watch just got even better | Via : Wareable

Garmin has quietly announced an upgrade to its Forerunner 45 GPS running watch, with a couple of interesting feature additions. The Forerunner 45 is the company’s entry level running watch, offering basic GPS tracking in a really, slim and lightweight package. We’ve been big fans ever since our initial review, thanks to the Forerunner 45’s super-slim design and no-nonsense feature set, while still offering decent insights on VO2 Max. And that’s where the company has looked to improve the Forerunner 45 Plus.

The only differences over the Forerunner 45 seems to be the addition of some specialist metrics including Race Predictor and Recovery Time Advisor. Both of these metrics are based on heart rate data and are derived from Firstbeat’s heart rate variability algorithms. Those paying attention will know that Garmin recently bought Firstbeat, so this could be the start of those metrics filtering onto entry level devices. Elsewhere, the Forerunner 45 has the same slim 42mm case, heart rate monitor, 5ATM water resistance, pace, distance and time metrics, 7 day battery life with smart notifications and 13 hours of continuous GPS tracking. What’s not certain is whether the Forerunner 45 Plus will replace or augment the existing Forerunner 45. It’s been listed at UK retailers for £139.99 (around $150), which is about the same as the existing Forerunner 45. It’s a fantastic price, and means we could see the ordinary Forerunner 45 drop to the $100 mark for the Holidays, which would make it a smash hit we’re sure.

⬆️ The Upside: We think this new Garmin watch is a nice addition to the Garmin’s smartwatch portfolio. Race Predictor and Recovery Time Advisor are some good incremental improvements, and we expect Garmin to put to good use the acquisition of Firstbeat’s heart rate variability algorithms in order to add new types of capabilities in the coming years. By doing so this should help Garmin further gain market share in the smartwatch market.

Picture : the watch “Forerunner 45 Plus”

The Amazfit Band 6 is the Alexa-toting Mi Band 5 we've been waiting for | Via : Wareable

The Amazfit Band 6 has leaked online, and it looks like it’s everything we hoped the Xiaomi Mi Band 5 would be. The Amazfit Band 6 leaked last week after code was spotted online, but now things have ratcheted up a notch, with a page going live on Aliexpress, and now images and details appearing at Geekdoing. The leaks reveal a near-identical build to the Mi Band 5, but with Amazon Alexa and an SpO2 sensor. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the exact specs we reported in the run up to the Mi Band 5 launch. Those leaks, which then turned into speculation of a Mi Band 5 Pro, referenced a product codenamed “York” at Huami. But this seems like it was actually the Amazfit Band 6 all along. Xiaomi and Amazfit are both part of Huami, and both companies are generally careful not to step on each other’s toes. Amazfit does push towards a more prosumer audience when it comes to fitness, at least in the Chinese market.

So it makes sense that the Amazfit Band 6 shows off these features ahead of Xiaomi. But elsewhere it’s unchanged over the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 5. You still get a 1.1-inch AMOLED display with a 126x294 resolution, waterproofing to 50 metres and 15 days of battery life. It also uses PAI to offer a single score based on your weekly fitness and activity, and there’s guided breathing and menstrual tracking too. Like the Mi Band 5 there are 11 dedicated sport tracking profiles. The leaks suggest it will come in olive, orange and black. We don’t have any pricing or availability, but judging from the leaked images, it can’t be too far away.

⬆️ The Upside: The Amazfit Band 6 appears to not offer much improvements compared to its predecessor. We think this is the wrong strategy. Instead the vendor should focus on adding new biosensing capabilities (e.g.hydration, BP, electrolyte, fatigue measurement..). Historically fitness bands users have stopped using fitness bands after a few weeks as they feel like the band does not offer much value. As a results most fitness bands makers experience a high churn rate. Once again this is another reason why OEMs should focus on innovation and continuing to add value rather than adding such another SKU without a real differentiator.

picture : 2 watchs “Amazfit Band 6”


🎮 Esports & Crypto-Currency News

🎮 NBA names Olybet as official betting partner | Via: Insider Sport

The NBA has added to its growing commercial portfolio following its latest deal with the Olympic Entertainment Group AS (OEG) which sees Olybet become the league’s official betting partner across Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia. Under the terms of the agreement, OEG will be able to use official NBA branding across its land-based and digital sports betting offerings throughout the nations. Moreover, the partnership will be promoted across more than 100 casino and retail locations in the regions. Scott Kaufman-Ross, Senior Vice President, Head of Fantasy & Gaming at NBA, commented:

“We are thrilled to partner with OEG, a market leader in gaming resorts in the region. The timing of our partnership is ideal, given the unique opportunity in which NBA games will be live in European primetime every day during the seeding stage of the season restart. Our partnership will give OlyBet the tools to create the most authentic NBA betting experience in the region, providing another way for fans to engage with the NBA.”

The NBA is back in full swing following its postponement due to the global health pandemic back in March. The competition has followed in the footsteps of other major leagues in the US, such as MLS, in resuming its operations under strict health and safety guidelines to mitigate the risk of spreading coronavirus. 

⬆️ The Upside: We believe this is a great move by the NBA as part of its quest to adopt sports betting and generate new revenue opportunities to drive its top line. Of note, the global sports betting market is expected to reach nearly $155.49B in revenue by 2024, and $134.5B by 2027, according to data provided by Transparency Market Research. It is boosted by the stronger presence of online betting and COVID-19 has accelerated this trend.

Picture : Ruby Gobert (Basketball player of the Utah Jazz)

🎮 NBA players secure investment in blockchain-based game developer Dapper Labs | Via: Insidersport

Dapper Labs, the developer behind blockchain game NBA Top Shot, has secured $11.4M in new funding from investors which includes the likes of Miami Heat’s Andre Iguodala and Brooklyn Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie among others. NBA Top Shot is a new platform that allows users to buy and trade tokens featuring NBA moments and players. The app has currently been in beta launch from June, however it has generated an estimated $1.2M in revenue from its first 500 players already. The firm will use its new investment to scale Flow, a new blockchain built by Dapper Labs to support the next generation of games, apps and its digital assets. Additionally, the funding will be used to deliver on previously announced collaborations with UFC, Dr. Seuss and Warner Music, among others.

“Crypto enables entirely new possibilities for people to create and exchange value on the internet,” stated Roham Gharegozlou, founder and CEO of Dapper Labs. Flow is a new and easy to use blockchain that lowers barriers to entry and lets anyone join this new digital economy. The funding from this round will ensure Flow can scale to the size of projects appealing to fan bases as big as the NBA. Flow lets fans join the economy of their community in a way that wasn’t possible before crypto.”

⬆️ The Upside: We believe this is a great move by NBA players Andre Iguodala and Brooklyn Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie, Garrett Temple, JaVale McGee of the Los Angeles Lakers, and Orlando Magic’s Aaron Gordon. Of note, the global blockchain market size is expected to grow from $3B in 2020 to $39.7B by 2025, at an impressive Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 67.3% during 2020–2025. Check out our analysis on the sports blockchain market here.

Picture : Andre Iguodala (Miami Heat/NBA)


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

  • Sana Health, a maker of audio-visual masks designed to treat chronic pain, raises $5.8M. Read on here.

  • NBA players secure $11.4M investment in blockchain-based game developer Dapper Labs. Read on here.


📊 Key Tech & Biz Sports Stats of The Week

$710B: The pandemic has accelerated e-commerce growth, with U.S. online retail sales expected to reach nearly $710 billion in 2020. Should that play out, it would be 14.5% of total U.S. retail sales, up from 11% in 2019 — the single biggest leap in online retail share in one year.

$5B: Disney saw its revenue drop 42% year-over-year as the coronavirus wreaked havoc across the company, resulting in a nearly $5 billion loss. While its theme park business took the biggest hit, its media networks, including ESPN and ABC, experienced a 2% drop in revenue. That drop was largely due to lower advertising revenue alongside the absence of live sports.

$1.78B: Epic Games announced it has raised $1.78 billion in new funding. With the new raise, Epic is now valued at $17.3 billion. A previous billion dollar round closed in 2018, valuing the company at $15 billion.

$1B: BodyArmor, which recently passed Powerade to become the number two sports drink brand by sales, is expected to surpass $1 billion in sales this year. It had $400 million in sales in 2018.

$770M: AS Roma has confirmed that US consortium The Friedkin Group has signed a deal to purchase the Serie A club in a transaction that is valued at £533m (€591m). 

-$394M: Despite a 35% sales decline and $394 million quarterly loss, Adidas expects to return to profitability in the third quarter. At the root of the bullishness: a 93% jump in online sales.

Sports Apparel Most Recent Quarterly Revenues:

Nike: $6.3B, down 38% year-over-year

Adidas: $4.24B, down 35%

Under Armour: $708M, down 41%

Lululemon: $651.96M, down 17%

$300M: NBA owners will contribute $300 million in initial funding to launch the NBA Foundation with the NBPA to create “greater economic empowerment in the Black community.”

$300M: The $300M Disneyland of football is expected to open this fall in Canton, Ohio around the Pro football all of game.

$176M: Joe Bryan scored twice in extra time at Wembley to give Fulham the win in what is widely called the most lucrative game in football. Fulham will receive at least £135 million ($176M) over three years after securing promotion, a year after being relegated from the world's richest football league.

65M: Disney+ has grown to 60.5M subscribers, up from 54M in May. Disney also has a combined 100M video streaming users including Hulu+, ESPN +.

$15M: A group including actor and former WWE star Dwayne Johnson has agreed to purchase the XFL for about $15 million, according to a news release issued last Monday morning.

8.5M: Espn + now has 8.5M subs, up from 2.4M last June.

1.16M: Despite the hurdles presented in the schedule, MLB has drawn well on TV. Opening weekend had more than twice the number of viewers as 2019 and ESPN’s first 12 broadcasts averaged 1.16 million viewers, a 34% increase from 2019. The network’s Opening Night game drew an average of 4 million viewers.

155: Lewis Hamilton equals Michael Schumacher's podiums record.

75%: Division I, where football can generate as much as 75% of a school’s athletic department revenue, brings in as much as $150 million.

34%: MLB was up 34% in viewership compared to last year.

-78%: Planet fitness revenue dropped 78% YoY last quarter due to Covid-19.


📸 The Upside: Snapshots & video of The Week.

How many more? NBA star Damian Lillard was wearing a jersey saying “How many more?” to express his support for the Black Lives Matters movement.

NHL & Black Lives Matters: After MLS, NBA players, F1 drivers...some NHL players also took a knee last week. Well done!

PSG & Harvard case study: PSG, which has become a world’s top sports brand (via Air Jordan) has now become an Harvard case study.

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🔥Upside Chat: Kai Bond, Partner, Courtside Ventures, on the Gaming/Esport Market

  
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This week we had the honor to interview Kai Bond, partner at Courtside Ventures, a leading sports tech VC, focused on early-stage sports, fitness, and gaming companies.  Kai is a repeat founder, starting 3 companies and has spent the last 5 years as an early stage investor in NYC.

📝Show Notes:Throughout our conversation, we talked about his background (3x founder, Comcast Ventures, Samsung NEXT, Microsoft..), how he got into venture capitalism, and his view on the esport and gaming market and his advice for startups looking to raise money.

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

  1. On his background: So my background is as a founder. I was a founder three times over. My first company, which started in 2006, was in the gaming ecosystem. I started a second company in 2010, which was also focused on the gaming ecosystem. And then another company in 2014, which was an interactive streaming platform called pixieTV, focused on creating enhanced viewing experiences over live broadcast. And so, over 10 years as an entrepreneur, three different businesses, building teams at different scales and sizes, I really built up a tremendous amount of knowledge around running a startup and being a founder. It's hard to understand what it's like being a founder without walking in those shoes. And so my path into venture was primarily through a founder lens”.

  2. On how he got into the VC world: “I was fortunate enough to have my third company, pixieTV, acquired by Samsung. And when I spent about a year launching that product globally within the Samsung smart TV ecosystem, I realized a couple of things. One is that I'm a pretty bad employee. So going from running small startups and companies to being part of a 380,000 person machine was a difficult transition. And what I realized most was that the area and the stage that I like working on most was a very early stage company formation. And I was fortunate enough to get a role at what was then called the Samsung Global Innovation Center, now called Samsung NEXT, and lead their accelerator program, working with early stage founders from concept to building out initial products, to helping that scale. And so that was really my first experience working in an investment capacity and I found the coaching, the mentoring, the advising of early stage founders to be incredibly rewarding”.

  3. On what he is looking for when investing in startups: “For me, it's always team first. When I think about the best companies in the world, what you say you are going to build day one and what it ends up becoming are very, very different things. And you have to have a team that is resilient, that is determined, that's passionate. But most importantly, it has to be a team that has some unique insight or perspective into this problem, this solution, and this opportunity. They see a vision or they have a spark that no one else has. And so the team first is always kind of the first thing”.

  4. On the investment thesis at Courtside Ventures: “We are thesis driven investors. So in the gaming and esport ecosystems, we have lanes that we like to play in that fit that investment thesis. So we're looking for, how can we as a VC group accelerate and help the investment scale more rapidly, reach a greater user base, and identify partnerships. And that's key for us. As a vertically focused fund, we are not just going to run scattershot, but we definitely have very honed-in perspectives on what we want to invest in and why, and why we think the timing is right. And that plays heavily for us as we evaluate companies that are raising in this current market. (..) We have a rigorous rating platform where we go through and rank the team, rate the product market fit, look at the KPIs, the progress they've made to date. And we use that as a litmus test of how we should lean in, how aggressively we are going to go after this opportunity, where it stack rank, and why we should move forward. And so there's a rigor, I think all of us coming from a founder background and understanding how to build great products, that filters into our thinking and informs our beliefs around how we create a sustainable long term fund that can generate great returns”.

  5. On his view on the esport and gaming market: “It's always interesting to talk about the size of the esport ecosystem based on revenue because it's an incredibly early market in the U.S., and that's primarily where we're focused on investing in: The U.S. and Western Europe. And so, it's hard to say it's a billion dollar market. When you look at the overall gaming ecosystem, gaming is on track to be $158 billion of revenue on an annual basis. And so, we invest in both sides. What makes esport an interesting opportunity is, one, there's hyper-growth in the category. Two, there are no large incumbents other than, maybe you can say Twitch, in the world of gaming and esport that dominate, and so there will be category winners. So this is a unique moment in time that everyone's looking at and saying, there will be category defining companies that become multibillion dollar businesses”.

  6. On the most interesting things he is seeing in esport right now: “I think what's most interesting when you think about the esport ecosystem are two things. One is viewership. Audience. There are hundreds of millions of people watching gaming. And so the interactive streaming side, and the ability to drive a new medium of entertainment, is one area that's extremely exciting for us. And when you look at the other side, it's the interactivity, it's the accessibility. So not only are you viewing, but you're also playing. And I think oftentimes when we think about the world of esport, people are thinking about the hyper competitive Overwatch league, or you're thinking about esport teams, but the reality is, you have a spectrum here. You have youth and high school sports. PlayVS is going after this. And rolling out the ability to create high school esport, collegiate esport”.

  7. On why the esport market is accelerating with COVID-19 as one of the new drivers: “When we think about esports, I think this combination of entertainment, viewability, interactivity, combined with accessibility and participatory nature of what you're doing is what is making people gravitate towards it. Now, you throw in the macro conditions that we're in now, with shelter in place, COVID-19, staying at home, and you're seeing just a rapid acceleration at all levels, from competitive to mid-core to casual. And that's kind of where we see the ecosystem evolving, is that this is going to be something that everyone plays at every level, rather than just kind of the pro and high end of the competitive spectrum (..) You see Players' Lounge having more engagement, more wagering across the entire platform. And so, you kind of look at individual businesses and then you take a step back and you look at the portfolio that we've constructed out of fund one and fund two, and you see this massive uptick in terms of engagement, adoption, and viewership. And so it's an incredible time to be part of this world in this time”.

  8. On the key trends he is seeing in the world of esport: “I think accessibility is probably one of the key trends. You're seeing people playing on mobile phones, you're seeing people play on desktop, you're seeing this going across consoles. And that's a global phenomenon. Cross-platform gaming, to me, is something where typically we're seeing a casual gamer on a mobile device, but now you're seeing an adoption of the PUBGs and Fortnite on a mobile device. So I think having the ability to continue playing across platforms is a fascinating thing in terms of accessibility. We're just at the very beginning phases of true interactivity. When you think about people playing Fortnite and then coming in and watching a concert we're taking those small steps towards what the metaverse will look like. And so, to me, this idea of community, of really forming not only entertainment, but networks around this. We wrote a blog post around, and you are seeing this today, tremendous levels of engagement around the community. This is a new way for the next generation to socialize and engage and have fun. And it's not just about the game itself, it's about forming a community around it. And that's a special trend we're seeing throughout, at every level”.

  9. On why teams and leagues are entering the esport world, especially right now with the COVID-19 pandemic: “I think the second factor here is understanding that for many leagues around the world, the idea of fan participation, i.e. going to a stadium and watching a game, is uncertain. We don't know when that's going to happen again. And the idea that you can enable some sort of participation around your favorite athletes, or members of the team, or the leagues that you're in, gives another way to connect. And so there's a lot going on. When you look at the NASCAR race in the U.S., you find that particularly fascinating. All of the drivers have this simulator in their house. They're driving, they're broadcasting. It was a massive success. Fans are engaged. And you get a unique snapshot into the lives of these racers. There's this thing set up, they're posting on social media. And then there's the race and the event itself. So it's not too different than when an NBA player comes down, and what they are wearing as they're coming into the arena has become like a whole thing. You're looking for ways to connect, and this level of entertainment, this level of engagement, supplements the traditional sports experience and just allows you to really connect in a different way”.

  10. On how he sees the esport market evolving in the coming years: “I've been in gaming since we were developing BREW and J2ME games on a flip phone. And you had up, down, left, right, soft key 1 and soft key 2. And even back to the days of arcade, right? And I think when I think about the core elements of what makes esport fun, it's kind of like going back to that arcade when you're playing an arcade game and who had the high score in that arcade, and how do you get your name to the top of the heap. Well, now that's just been taken from your local arcade, of maybe the 50 people you knew in your neighborhood or your area who went there, and blew it out to be able to be connected with people globally. And so I think there's a lot of consistent elements that we're seeing over the years of what makes esport fun and entertaining, but really, I think what we're interested in as a fund is that esport represents the combination of gaming, of streaming, interactivity, and media. And you wrap all of that in a layer of fun which is why I think the sky's the limit. And everyone is going to perceive it in a different way”.

  11. On the emergence of a new generation of esports gamers: “I think the next generation of esport gamers will be something very similar in terms of how we see a gamer. And you went from hardcore games to your casual gamer on mobile phones. I think you're going to see what we perceive today as somebody who's participating in esport no longer thinks of it as esport, but we are just going to think about it as a community, connectivity, entertainment. And so that's a fun transition to go through, when you start with the core and then you bring it to the mass audiences. We're already there from the mass audiences, from a viewership and engagement perspective. I think when you start to talk about democratizing the tools to play, to participate, to engage, that's when the fun really starts, and we're just at the beginning of that right now”.

  12. On his advice to startups looking to raise money right now: “It is a tough environment right now. There are a lot of funds that have put down bets, in the last, let's call it three to four years, who are still trying to figure out what those outcomes are going to look like. There has not been a lot of liquidity in the space. And so if you're a venture capitalist and you're raising from LPs, you're trying to show markups, you're trying to show exits and results. And so a lot of that is still coming, and we're in the very early stages. And so what I always tell people who are looking to start a company in the space is it goes back to that team. What is the unique value proposition? What is the insight? What is the aha moment that you had that will allow you to create a product, a service, a technology, which will allow this industry to move forward”.

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

Microsoft to buy TikTok? Gunners win their 14th FA cup

Dear Colleague,

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Join the Upside online community

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📰 Top Stories We’re Reading This Week 

🏀  Snap launches new mobile AR experience with the NBA

🤖 Bayern Munich launches robotic digital autograph sessions Audi in China

⌚ Apple Watch Series 6 release date rumored 

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

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

🎮 Former NBA Player Marcin Gortat Invests in Polish Esports League

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

💸 Latest Investment Trends

📊 Tech Stats of the Week

📸 Snapshots of the Week

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


🎮 AR/VR/Video/Digital Sports News

🏀  Snap launches new mobile AR experience with the NBA

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

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

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

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

Picture: NBA, Snap

🤖 Bayern Munich launches robotic digital autograph sessions Audi in China

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

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

Picture: Bayern Munich, Audi


🚑 Wearables, Health, Nutrition News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

🎮 Esports & Crypto-Currency News

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

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

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

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

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

Video: Ferrari

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

  • Esport startup Luckbox closes oversubscribed $3.7M financing round. Read on here.

  • Sports tech startup StreamLayer raised $4M in a round led by KB Partners. Read here.

  • Esports analytics startup Mobalytics raises $11.25M Series A led by Almaz Capital and Cabra VC. Read here.


📊 Key Tech & Biz Sports Stats of The Week

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

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

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

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

At Risk For ESPN and Parent Company Disney: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


📸 The Upside: Snapshots & video of The Week.

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

NBA players taking a knee. Players took a knee as NBA season resumes in Orlando 'Bubble' Players from the Utah Jazz and the New Orleans Pelicans locked arms and took a knee together as basketball teams returned from coronavirus lockdown to participate in the NBA's“bubble” season at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, on July 30.

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

Los Angeles has a new NWSL team. Charlotte has a new MLS team

Dear Colleague,

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


📰 Top Stories We’re Reading This Week 

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

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

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

⌚ The Oppo Watch launches in Germany with global release imminent

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

⌚ MyCoach teams up with MacLloyd

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

💸 Latest Investment Trends

📊 Tech Stats of the Week

📸 Snapshots of the Week

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


🎮 AR/VR/Video/Digital Sports News

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

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

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

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

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

Picture: NBA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture: Fox Sports


🚑 Wearables, Health, Nutrition News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture: Samsung

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

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

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


🎮 Esports & Crypto-Currency News

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

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

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

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


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

  • Blockchain enabled fantasy soccer firm Sorare raises $4M in seed fund round. Read on here.

  • Snoop Dogg's VC firm leads $9.5M investment in US sleep solutions startup. Read here.


📊 Key Tech & Biz Sports Stats of The Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


📸 The Upside: Snapshots & video of The Week.

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

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