🇺🇸 ⚽ ⚾ MLS Turns 24. MLB.TV Seeing Big Spike. Formsense Survey

Zoom’s daily active users jumped from 10M to over 200M in 3 months

Dear Friends and Members,

Last week the MLS turned 24 years. In addition, more teams have continued to adapt their business model in order to adapt to the COVID-19 crisis, engage with their fans and generate revenues. Among the latest teams to do that are the Milwaukee Bucks a top NBA team which announced its new content hub designed to maintain fan engagement during the COVID-19 crisis. The aptly named BucksPlay features a variety of original content from behind-the-scenes footage to player lifestyle features and interviews. Also included in the NBA side’s new platform will be an immersive ‘in-arena experience’ providing fans with interactive content whilst at home. BucksPlay’s ‘Bucks Recess’ challenges encourage fans of all ages to participate in certain training skills in order to remain fit, active and entertained whilst isolating at home.

Another example of this is the UFC, whose UFC president Dana White said that he is close to securing a private island to continue hosting fights during the coronavirus crisis. The Moto GP also announced its plan to host another virtual event based on the success of its first event. The MLB is seeing a spike in terms of usage for MLB.TV, MLB’s OTT digital offering, which saw a 85% spike in minutes viewed for archived games since March 13. The NFL also confirmed that the NFL draft will be conducted in a virtual format, with team personnel working from their homes. Speaking of workouts, pro teams and athletes are continuing their remote training programs during this COVID-19 crisis.

Teams and leagues, and tech firms, are continuing to focus on social impact during this challenging time. For example, Six Formula 1 drivers including Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc have organized and will take part in a virtual championship to raise money for charity in response to the global health crisis. with 39M school-aged students currently learning at home in the United States and Canada, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League are also looking to increase the reach of their science, technology, engineering and mathematics-focused efforts. Apple Music kicked off a $50M COVID-19 advance fund for Indie labels. Lastly top soccer team AC Milan teamed up with Headspace around mental health.

In the world of tech, Facebook started offering refurbished version of the Oculus Rift as a way to clear out inventory and boost sales. Michael Kors MKGO smartwatch got slashed to just $111 on Amazon and Google updated Google Fit. In the world of esport, Intel delayed the Intel World Open, and Call of Duty returned online on April 10. Digital business, SVOD, video conferencing companies are continuing to see a boost in terms of adoption: Disney reported that Disney + now has 50M paid customers. Google is now adding 2M new users per day for Google Meet its video conferencing system. By comparison, Zoom’s daily active users jumped from 10M to over 200M in 3 months due to the COVID-19 crisis.

On Wednesday we will publish a survey conducted by Formsense, a smart apparel company delivering real-time, remotely-monitored biomechanical insights. The survey targeted 20+ top sports performance coaches (NBA, MLS, NCAA, Serie A, EPL, Olympic Sports Federations…) to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on athletic training staff’s ability to monitor and interact with their athletes. Of note, The Upside helped bring in trainers as part of this survey. As shown in the chart below, the survey showed that over 86% are athletic staff is utilizing text messages to stay in touch with their athletes, while nearly 70% are doing some form of video chatting and only 2% aren’t doing anything. In addition, while over 1/3 are using some form of wearable device with their athletes today, there are few products that are delivering secure, remote monitoring of exercise protocols and success metrics/ When asked about what kind of data & solutions staff would like to be able to use, the most commonly requested were Heart Rate Variability (HRV) measurement, GPS tracking, Rehabilitation/Rehab tools, and Movement/Motion analysis tools. We will publish the full results of the survey on Wednesday. This is a follow up to our recent article gathering testimonials from Top coaches/trainers/Startups on what to do during COVID-19 crisis.

Source: Formsense survey, Sports Tech Advisors, 2020

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📰 Top Stories We’re Reading This Week 

🥽 Facebook is selling refurbished Rift CV1s as Rift S remains sold out in U.S.

⌚ Michael Kors MKGO smartwatch slashed to just $111 on Amazon

⌚Google Fit update offers fitness tracking boost for Wear OS and Fossil watches

🎮  Intel delays Intel World Open. Call of Duty To Return online April 10.

💸 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

🥽 Facebook is selling refurbished Rift CV1s as Rift S remains sold out in U.S. | Via: VentureBeat

The Oculus Rift S and Quest are still out of stock, so in the U.S. Facebook is temporarily selling a “limited supply” of refurbished original Rifts for $299. That’s $100 less than the Rift S, which is priced at $399. The listing is only available in the U.S. The original Oculus Rift launched in mid-2016 for $600. This didn’t include the Touch controllers, which launched in December of that year for $200. In 2017, Facebook unified into a Rift+Touch package priced at $400, and that’s what’s on offer here.

Facebook says any refurbished Rift will be free of visible cosmetic imperfections, have no scratches on the lenses, no dents, and any repairs used original components. If you’re not happy with the headset, returns are available for 30 days. If there’s an issue with it however, there’s a six-month warranty. That’s only half the standard warranty, and would actually be illegal in almost all other developed countries. So how does the Rift “CV1” hold up in 2020? We got one of ours out of storage and played a little Half-Life: Alyx with it. The Rift CV1 is the only Oculus headset so far designed to be high end, rather than balanced with affordability. The headset has a premium feel with a cloth exterior, and more importantly it’s compact, light, and comfortable to wear.

⬆️ The Upside:  We think this is a great strategy by Facebook. At $299 the Oculus Rift is a bargain and it will allow many users to jump in and become first time VR users. Facebook is essentially using a strategy used by OEMs (Samsung, Apple..) as most OEMs today offer refurbished versions of their devices as a way to clear out their inventory and boost sales. Facebook is probably also doing this as they might see a spike in VR usage. In fact some of the VR startups we talked to told us that their VR user base doubled week over week due to the COVID019, so the timing of this promotional move by Facebook is probably not a coincidence. Facebook is trying to capitalize on this. Of note, in 2019 Oculus (Facebook) captured 28% of the VR headset market Vs 37% for Sony Playstation VR, according to Statista. Such move will help Oculus increase its market share in 2020.

Picture: Facebook


🚑 Wearables, Health, Nutrition News

 Michael Kors MKGO smartwatch slashed to just $111 on Amazon | Via: Wareable

If you’re looking for a smartwatch deal – there’s a frankly insane discount going on Amazon for the Michael Kors MKGO smartwatch that made us sit up and take notice. Retailing with an RRP of $299 (albeit available for $149 now on Michael Kors’ own site), a bunch of colorways are available for just $111 on Amazon. You can get black, pink, white/gold at this price.

However, it is a 4th Gen Fossil device, which it’s starting to lag behind the newest Fossil Gen 5 devices, including Skagen Falster 3. And this is by no means dated tech. The Michael Kors MKGO was only announced at IFA 2019, so it’s still very much part of the current scene. However, it is a 4th Gen Fossil device, which it’s starting to lag behind the newest Fossil Gen 5 devices, including Skagen Falster 3. The Michael Kors MKGO is sportier than any MK watch that’s gone before, with a rubber sweat-friendly strap and bright, vibrant colours. It has a 43mm case size, so just about figures as unisex in our books. It’s got GPS and heart rate built in, which populates into the Google Fit app. That’s not going to please hardcore gym-goers, but certainly enough for those looking to a partner for the odd class or job. You can also take it into the pool thanks to 3ATM water resistance.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe this is a great move by Foosil (Parent company). $111 for this type of smart watch is a bargain. But the specs of the watch are a bit outdated compared to the newest Fossil watches (Fossil Gen 5 devices). However, this should help Fossil increase its market share a bit in the smartwatch market. Of note, as of 2Q19, Fossil captured 4% of the smartwatch market Vs 38% for Apple. In our view, Fossil should innovate on the biosensing side of things and focus on adding new sensors to measure hydration, electrolyte level. By doing so it will be able to increase its market share in a big way. We covered the state of the market and future trends in our recent analysis on the Sweat and heat sensing market.

Google Fit update offers fitness tracking boost for Wear OS and Fossil watches | Via: Wareable

Google has updated Google Fit, offering extra insights into steps, wellness and fitness for Wear OS smartwatches, and users of the smartphone app. Most of the features focus on trying to help users of Google Fit get more information about progress to goals, and taking on track for the levels of activity we should be getting.

Now users of Wear OS smartwatches such as the Fossil Gen 5Skagen Falster 3 or Fossil Sport will be presented with two metrics front and center: steps and Google’s Heart Points metric. Heart Points are taking more of a central focus on Wear OS, and there’s now a dedicated Tile. Heart Points are a single number, derived from your active minutes in the week. Much like the PAI score developed by Mio and used on Amazfit wearables, you need to hit 150 Heart Points for the week, to reach the levels of activity prescribed by the WHO and AHA. The goal progress and summary of your stats has been given a facelift, and you can now check in mid-workout if you like.
The Wear OS on-watch aspect has a very Apple Watch-esque ring, which fills as you move towards your goal. Aside from that it also includes Heart Points progress, which is displayed in the centre of the ring. There are also new Tiles for workout and health. You can start a workout straight from Wear OS Tiles, and again, check in on goal progress. This is quote a small tweak to Google Fit, but does transform the experience somewhat – especially on wearable devices.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe this is a good move by Google. However Google should innovate more there in terms of insights generated from step counts. For example over the past couple of years there has been startups such as Gero who have been able to take steps data and tell users if their health were improving or deteriorating. That’s the kind of innovation that Google needs to get to whether it does it is done internally or through a partnership with a company to do it. Also as we mentioned before, Google needs to be more innovative when it comes to biosensing (Hydration, electrolyte, BP…) for its future wearable fitness offering.

Picture: Fitbit


🎮 Esports & Crypto-Currency News

🎮  Intel To Delays Intel World Open. Call of Duty To Return online April 10. | Via: Esports Observer

There were a few announcements last week. First Intel released an official statement regarding the Intel World Open, a Rocket League and Street Fighter V tournament which was to take place in conjunction with the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Intel decided to postpone the esport event due to the COVID-19 crisis.

In addition Call of Duty League announced that it will return online April 10. Lastly DreamHack Masters decided to move to an online, regional format.

Lastly Astralis Group staff agreed to voluntarily reduces salaries by up to 30%.

⬆️ The Upside: This does not come as a surprise to see esports companies being impacted by the COVID-19 crisis having to cancel or postpone. However the world of esport or gaming in general has been positively impacted by our current challenging environment as most people are in quarantine and have more time for activities such as online gaming. Companies such as Tencent a leading gaming company, recently reported one of its best quarters ever.


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

  • SonderMind raises $27M to expand its mental health services.

  • Sports streaming startup Phenix raises $7.55M in a Series A round led by Chicago-based sports and tech VC firm KB Partners. Read on here. 

  • Online gaming startup Zupee raises $8M in its Series A funding round led by Matrix Partners India. Read on here.


📊 Key Tech Sports Stats of The Week

$9B: The concert industry could lose almost $9B if coronavirus quarantines don’t lift by the end of the year, according to a study from Pollstar.

3B: Apple Inc. and Google unveiled a rare partnership to add technology to their smartphone platforms that will alert users if they have come into contact with a person with Covid-19. People must opt in to the system, but it has the potential to monitor about a third (3B users) of the world’s population.

3B: Twitch, the most popular live streaming platform, reached all-time highs for hours watched, hours streamed, and average concurrent viewership. That included surpassing 3B hours watched on the platform for the first time. For Facebook Gaming, hours watched have nearly tripled year over year, YouTube Gaming’s average concurrent viewers are up 15.5% compared to last quarter, and Mixer now has more users streaming on it than Facebook Gaming and YouTube Gaming combined.

Total Hours Watched in Q1 2020, per Streamlabs:

  1. Twitch - 3.1B

  2. YouTube Gaming Live - 1.1B

  3. Facebook - 553.8M

  4. Mixer - 81.4M

$250M: The DoJ is scrutinizing Google's $2.1B Fitbit acquisition because of how much personal information it will get. Will the Google Fitbit deal get cancelled? If the deal does not happen Google will need to pay $250M to Fitbit.

200M: Zoom’s daily active users jumped from 10M to over 200M in 3 months due to the COVID-19 crisis.

$50M: Apple Music kicks off a $50M COVID-19 advance fund for Indie labels.

$50M: Disney+ surpassed 50M in paid subscribers after launches in Europe & India

$50M: NFL QB Brady’s two-year deal with the team is reportedly worth a guaranteed $50M, with an additional $9M in incentives.

39M: With roughly 39M school-aged students currently learning at home in the United States and Canada, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League are looking to increase the reach of their science, technology, engineering and mathematics-focused efforts.

2M: Google Hangouts / Meet is adding 2M users a day amid coronavirus.

1.3M: More than 1.3M watched the March 29 eNASCAR series broadcast on Fox and FS1, according to Nielsen. Driver Michael McDowell even landed a real-world sponsor for his virtual success.

8000%: Even without the live-game action, MiLB has seen its social media following grow significantly in recent weeks. On Facebook and Instagram, video views are up nearly 8000% and 700%, respectively, with a more-than 150% increase in interactions across those platforms.

Picture: MiLB

128: Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus FC) remains the top Champions League scorer of all time with a total of 128 goals, ahead of Lionel Messi (114 goals) and Raul (71 goals).

85%: MLB.TV, MLB’s OTT digital offering launched in 2002, has witnessed an 85% spike in minutes viewed for archived games since March 13, it said. The league formally announced free replays of regular-season games from the past two seasons on March 20. 

24: The MLS just turned 24 years last week.

No photo description available.

📸 The Upside: Snapshots & video of The Week.

AC Milan + Headspace. Nice to see AC Milan teaming up with meditation and sleep app Headspace. Very timely in the COVID-19 crisis we are in especially in northern Italy. Well done!

Picture: AC Milan, Headspace

Nike COVID-19 mask. Nike unveiled a new mask to protect against COVID-19.

Fitbit sleep data shows increase in sleep across the world due to COVID-19. Check out the week-by-week change in average sleep duration in different European metropolitan areas, below. You can see that in Paris, average sleep duration was impacted the most. It began to spike after the week ending March 15, once school closures were announced and public gatherings larger than a certain size were banned just days before. The average sleep duration in Milan increased at the beginning of March, when northern Italy underwent quarantine restrictions. In London, where shelter-in-place policies were not mandated during this time, sleep duration was not significantly affected until very recently.    

Source: Fitbit