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On Friday we plan to publish our next weekly sports and tech analysis.
📰 Top Stories We’re Reading This Week
🥽 Disney Files patent to potentially bring Augmented Reality to ESPN Wide World of sports, live events
👀 Liverpool FC delves into VR for sporting friendly
🚴 Equinox to challenge Peloton
👟 Playermaker is putting wearables on the boots of Premier League footballers
⌚️ And finally: Oppo smartwatch is in the works
🎮 Nongfu Spring and Harbin Brewery Partner with LGD Gaming, China Citic Bank Sponsors PSG.LGD
💸 Latest Investment Trends
📊 Tech Stats of the Week
📸 Snapshots of the Week
Let’s jump right into the insights and upside for all of these top stories
🎮 AR/VR/Video Sports News
🥽 Disney Files patent to potentially bring Augmented Reality to ESPN Wide World of sports, live events | Via: WOW News Today
Enhancing live performances is always the goal of Disney as they try to improve the guest experience. Often the spectacle ongoing is enjoyable for some, but confusing to others who do not understand the content as well. Luckily, a new patent filed by Disney could change all that.
The technology described in the patent would provide spectators with additional information via an Augmented Reality device. This device would take the form of glasses, think Google Glass, and allow spectators to see additional information displayed on the live scene in front of them.
Take for example a football game, which is described in the patent, where casual observers may not understand the rules. The headset would display the first down marker or any other useful information on top of the live scene to assist in the viewing of the event.
While not specifically touched on in the patent, this AR technology could be utilized within theme parks as well. Think of a live performance or slow-moving dark ride such as Peter Pan’s Flight. This AR headset would allow the wearer to see additional information about the scene in front of them, like character names or scene context. In addition, foreign theme parks have ride translations for guests that do not speak the native language of the park they are at. Technology like this could allow a foreign visitor to better understand an attraction without hindering the experience for anyone.
⬆️ The Upside: We think these AR glasses would make a lot of sense for ESPN as it would nicely complement its AR efforts on live TV. ESPN is already offering AR overlays during sports events on live TV. It remains to be seen if (1) ESPN will build its own AR glasses or codevelop them with AR vendors like Google, or Magic Leap. (2) ESPN smart glasses will offer fans location based info (coupons/discounts on food/beverage..) (3) if ESPN glasses will enable fans to see statistical and biometric data of players s an AR overlay while wearing the glasses during live events.
👀 Liverpool FC delves into VR for sporting friendly | Via: Wearable
On July 24th Premier League football club Liverpool partnered with US technology company NextVR to provide its pre-season friendly match against Portuguese Primeira Liga team Sporting CP in virtual reality.
The 24th July game took place at Yankee Stadium, home of Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise the New York Yankees, and VR coverage was exclusively available in the US to NextVR users on Oculus Gear VR and Go as well as all Oculus Venues users.
A total of eight VR cameras were positioned along the pitch and throughout Yankee Stadium. The fully produced live VR broadcasts will include dedicated commentators for the match, along with pre-game, half-time and full-time analysis.
Billy Hogan, Managing Director and Chief Commercial Officer of Liverpool, said: “It’s been a huge season for Liverpool FC and our fans are a vital part of our success. We want to constantly reward them and innovate to create the best possible ways for them to stay engaged with the team.
“We believe that live virtual reality experiences are going to be an important way for fans to enjoy our games and we are extremely excited to be innovating with NextVR and Oculus Venues for the first time.”
⬆️ The Upside: It should not come as a surprise to see Liverpool FC leveraging VR to enhance the soccer fans experience. For NextVR this type of partnership also makes sense as it enables the VR startup to expand its presence in Europe with a major soccer team. That being said we believe that the adoption of live VR in sports remains fairly low compared to live TV ratings.
Picture: Liverpool FC
🚑 Wearables, Health, Nutrition News
🚴 Equinox to challenge Peloton | Via: Front Office Sports
Peloton has ridden its luxury stationary bicycle and content business to a more than $4B valuation ahead of a rumored IPO.
But Equinox Group has popped up in its rear-view mirror, announcing its own entry into the on-demand fitness streaming and hardware business last week. The new venture, set to launch this fall, will bring together the Equinox Group brands, which includes SoulCycle, Equinox and Precision Run. The currently unnamed digital venture will include all of the workouts from those three properties, led by top instructors. The platform will also provide members with access to exclusive classes from Project by Equinox, its studio dedicated to experimental workouts, dabbling in things like HIIT and martial arts.
There will be hardware as well: an at-home stationary bike that will be identical to the one found in SoulCycle studios, but with an attached screen. It will also sell its Woodway treadmill, which is used at its Precision Run studios.
Equinox Group’s move will put it in direct competition with Peloton for a piece of the projected $14 billion home fitness equipment market.
In the last 12 months or so, Equinox has looked to massively diversify its brand and portfolio, adding everything from an Equinox Hotel in New York City, luxury travel retreats and the launch into the treadmill studio market with Precision Run.
In an interview with Fast Company, Jason LaRose, CEO of Equinox Media gave that idea a cold water bath:
“Our members like to be in a physical space, they love to be in our clubs,” LaRose said. “Digital becomes an ‘and’ answer for them and not an ‘or’ answer. . . . It’s really the intersection of digital and physical that makes this a very different concept to begin with.”
The platform is expected to roll out on an invitation-only basis this fall, with the at-home equipment being made available for purchase in the winter. A larger public launch will be in 2020.
⬆️ The Upside: We think this is a great move by Equinox. In our view, Equinox can leverage its strong brand, its growing install base and 135 locations across the country to help drive the adoption of its future on-demand fitness streaming offering. We also expect Equinox to potentially acquire some fitness equipment startups such as mirror to further differentiate its offering down the road. It will also be interesting to see what impact this will have on Peloton business in the long run.
👟 Playermaker is putting wearables on the boots of Premier League footballers | Via: Wearable
Football clubs around the world have been getting that data hit from heart rate monitors and player tracking compression vests for some time now. Playermaker thinks it can add a whole new dimension to the kinds of insights footballers and coaches can get access to get prepped for the next big game.
The startup claims to have the biggest library of player movement data going, and is helping to track data on over $1 billion worth of players each and every day. Football’s big money nowadays, in case you hadn’t heard.
The jewel in Playermaker’s crown is its wearable - a device that fits easily around a player’s boot. With a silicon band to house it, this device might be able to take football tracking to the next level. It's already being embraced by a number of Premier League clubs including Norwich City who make their return to England's top flight this season.
Most player trackers are based on collecting GPS data and motion tracking, giving details of sprints and high-intensity turns. When Adidas launched its adizero f50 smart football boot back in 2011, its focus was on speed, sprints and anything to do with 360-degree movement. What those solutions couldn't or don't offer is precise information about the type of motion, load-spreading or stride length. That’s where Playermaker’s wearable potentially leaps ahead.
Playermaker’s system can identify every point in a training session where a player took a touch of the ball, or played a pass, or took a shot
“We're adding a layer of actual load monitoring, load on the lower limb," says Yuval Odem, chief operating officer at Playermaker. "Together with data profile analysis, we can detect symmetry - if your right limb is longer than your left, or you're not lifting your left leg high enough when you're running.”
In short, placing the wearable on the boot opens up a new world of analytics. Odem is keen to stress that its device is useful for, “any sport where you wear footwear”, but football is where Playermaker has started, and its focus on the feet does make it the obvious place to begin.
Playermaker’s system can identify every point in a training session where a player took a touch of the ball, or played a pass, or took a shot. Pairing this with video footage of the session means that “you can automatically create highlights very easily”, according to Odem, a promise that’s sure to tantalise video analysts everywhere.
🎥 You can watch a video about Playmaker here.
⬆️ The Upside: We think Playmaker has an interesting approach based on the type of data (e.g. type of motion, load-spreading or stride length). We also like the fact that the data can be paired with video analysis to automatically create video highlights. It is worth pointing out that the startup has gained good traction as several soccer teams (e.g. Hull City, Maccabi Tel Aviv), have started to use its solution. Lastly Arsene Wenger is one of Playmaker’s advisors which is a key advantage. There is no doubt that they can leverage Arsene Wenger ‘s deep network in the soccer world.
⌚️ And finally: Oppo smartwatch is in the works | Via: Wearable
Welcome to And finally, our weekly round-up of goings on in the world of wearables in the past week. And it's been a busy one for new wearables to get excited about.
Samsung officially unveiled the Galaxy Watch Active 2 and days later revealed there was going to be a Galaxy Watch Active 2 Under Armour Edition joining it too. Fossil introduced its Gen 5 Wear OS smartwatches and also promised new hybrid smartwatches before the end of the year. Huawei unveiled HarmonyOS, a new operating system alternative to Android that will first roll out on smartwatches.
We've pulled together a few more stories to cast your eye over and remember, you can check out our dedicated news section to find out what else has been going on.
Chinese tech giant Oppo confirmed it's working on wearable projects and one of those projects is a smartwatch.
The company's vice president, Shen Yiren, announced via social media site Weibo that Oppo is hard at work on a smartwatch. We heard a few weeks ago that the company was granted a really interesting-looking patent for a foldable smartwatch, but there's no indication as to whether this is what Yiren was referring to.
Yiren did offer some hints though, indicating that Oppo is debating whether to go with a circular or rectangular display, based on the best use of space. Regardless of design, he said that the watch is unlikely to launch in 2019, but said he hoped it's in shape for 2020.
Oppo has been making bigger moves outside of its native China in the past year selling its slick, high-powered smartphones. So, we wouldn't be all that surprised if it decides to add smartwatches to its tech armoury.
⬆️ The Upside: This should not come as a surprise to see Oppo working on a smartwatch. While a foldable smartwatch would be an interesting move, we believe that it will be quite difficult for Oppo to take share away from Apple in the smartwatch market. But if Oppo does offer a highly differentiated smartwatches with a unique design, advanced capabilities (hydration, blood pressure biosensing capabilities..) and an affordable price (<$200) they could disrupt the market.
🎮 eSports & Crypto-Currency News
🎮 Nongfu Spring and Harbin Brewery Partner with LGD Gaming, China Citic Bank Sponsors PSG.LGD | Via: eSports Observer
Chinese sports organization LGD Gaming has signed partnership agreements with beverage company Nongfu Spring and alcohol brand Harbin Brewery. The organization Dota 2 PSG.LGD has signed a sponsorship agreement with the China Citic Bank Credit Card, which will appear on the team jerseys of PSG.LGD.
All of LGD Gaming's and PSG.LGD's Esport teams will promote Harbin Brewery beer and Nongfu Spring's carbonated coffee.
⬆️ The Upside: We think this is a great sponsorship opportunity for PSG’s esports team to help promote its eSports brand in Asia. It is also a new revenue opportunity for PSG’s eSports team. Net net it is a win win situation for all parties.
Picture: PSG.LGD's Esport teams
💸 Sports Investment Trends — August, 2019
Anzu.io raises $6.5M Series A funding led by BITKRAFT Esports Ventures. Read on here.
eSports organization Matcherino adds $1.5M investment from Wells Fargo, Galaxy Digital. Read on here.
📊 Key Tech Sports Stats of The Week
$29.2M: Serena Williams made $29.2M in total earnings last year, according to Forbes. That number makes her the highest-paid female athlete in the world by over $13M.
According to Forbes, the 23-time Grand Slam champ scores highly across all demographics, and only Tiger Woods and Tom Brady have higher levels of awareness among athletes with U.S. consumers.
$24.3M: Naomi Osaka's quick rise to stardom on the court helped push here into the number two slot behind Serena, at $24.3M. According to Kurt Badenhausen, her off-court earnings jumped from $1.5 million annually to an estimated $16 million for the 12 months ending June 1, after signing deals with Mastercard, All Nippon Airways, Nissan and Procter & Gamble.
1. Serena Williams - $29.2 million
2. Naomi Osaka - $24.3 million
3. Angelique Kerber - $11.8 million
4. Simona Halep - $10.2 million
5. Sloane Stephens - $9.6 million
12M: According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global smartwatch shipments grew an impressive 44 percent annually to reach 12 million units in the second quarter of 2019. Apple Watch maintained first position with 46 percent global smartwatch marketshare, while Samsung returned to second place, and Fitbit slumped to third.
$300,000: The amount made in royalties by Pat Riley after trademarking the term "three-peat" while he was with the Lakers in 1988. When the Bulls "three-peated" in the '90s, Riley pocketed some extra cash.
$12.99: According to Disney CEO Bob Iger, Disney will offer a bundle package of its three streaming services - ESPN+, Disney+ and Hulu - for $12.99 a month starting on November 12.
9: The league now has nine women on NBA benches as the Memphis Grizzlies announced the hiring of Niele Ivey, the former Notre Dame women’s associate head coach.
-4%: As MLS has begun the second half of its 2019 season following last week’s all-star game, attendance across the league is down roughly -4%.
📸 The Upside: Snapshots of The Week
American Land in LA. The first corporate sponsor for the new $5 billion stadium in Inglewood, California that will house both the Los Angeles Chargers and Rams has been locked in: American Airlines. The deal, which is valued at $90 million across 10 years according to industry sources, will make the airline the exclusive naming rights partners of the plaza outside the stadium.