⚽ 🐓 🥽 Apple to buy NextVR? Tottenham FC's Virtual Team training, New Fitbit Charge 4.

Twitch Seeing Spike, Fitbit Charge 4 & Huawei GT2e Watch have arrived..

Dear Friends and Members,

Last week, many pro teams and athletes continued their remote training programs during this COVID-19 crisis. To do that coaches and trainers have to make sure that their players are staying in shape physically and mentally. In addition, according to our sources, teams and leagues are also working hard behind closed doors in order to sign new deals, find new tech partners, to digitize their business via esport, SVOD, social media, and other innovative approaches. We covered this quite extensively in our recent analysis on COVID-19: How Tech Can Help Save The Game (VR training, MR/AR, Holographic press conferences..).

The latest league to see a spike with its esport strategy is the F1 Federation with its Virtual Grand Prix, which just recorded 3.2M online viewers for its esports F1 competition. NASCAR also reported that it had 903K viewers for its new esport competition. Another league that recently went virtual is the NBA. They pivoted their NBA players to esport due to the pandemic. Last week the NBA and NBPA launched the NBA 2K Players Tournament, with a prize of a $100,000 donation from 2K, the NBA and the NBPA in support of ongoing coronavirus relief efforts. The NBA is also now rumored to be working on a “horse” competition where several high profile NBA players would shoot in isolation (e.g. home gyms) and match shoots against competitors. The NFL is also now rumored to be considering doing a “virtual” NFL draft on April 23-25 where NFL prospects would work out at home and stream their workouts sessions to NFL teams.

In esport, Twitch also saw a big spike in the past few weeks as the hours people actually spent streaming via Twitch jumped by 20% compared to the prior quarter, reaching an all-time high of 121M hours, up from 77.9M in Q1 2018. The video streaming industry is also continuing to benefit from our current situation as Nielsen saw an 85% YoY increase in the number of minutes streamed to TV in the US during the first three weeks of March 2020. The total number of minutes streamed to TV in the US reached 400B minutes during the same time period.

In addition, the European soccer leaders (UEFA) wrote to teams and leagues to map out a plan to return to play in July and August. In the US, the NBA is also looking into bringing its NBA playoffs to Las Vegas as part of a mini tournament, according to Sports Illustrated. Wimbledon 2020 has also been officially cancelled. Moreover, pro teams (Barcelona FC..) and leagues (MLS, NCAA) continued to make pay cuts and raise funds (e.g. Bundesliga) to offset the COVID-19 crisis. The EPL also voted to advance funds of $153M to try to offset the impact of COVID-19 on the EFL and the National League.

Teams and leagues are also focusing on social impact during this challenging time. For example, according to a report, the players and the staff of the French National Soccer team (Les Bleus) will soon make a significant donation to help the nursing staff of the hospitals of Ile de France and support research at the national level, facing the pandemic of COVID-19. They will also offer 5,000 places to nursing staff for each match of Les Bleus at the Stade de France until the end of the year. The New England Patriots' team plane also transported 1.2M N95 masks from Shenzhen, China, to the US. We expect many other teams, leagues to follow suit and adopt similar strategies until the end of the COVID-19 crisis.

In the world of tech, Apple is rumored to be looking to acquire NextVR for $100M. Facebook is also allegedly looking to buy an AR display company. Lastly, Fitbit unveiled the Fitbit Charge 4 while Huawei launched a new smartwatch.

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On Wednesday we will republish our podcast interview with Adam Cheyer, the founder of Siri (sold to Apple), Viv Labs (sold to Samsung), and known as a world’s pioneer in the world of AI. Throughout our conversation, we touched on the legacy of digital assistants (and their role today), what it was like building Siri and working with Steve Jobs, and the implications AI will have for sports in the coming years, many of which will leverage the power of AR, VR, and more.

As a reminder, we plan to soon introduce a new major initiative that will better bring our sports tech community of thousands of sports tech execs (Pro teams, leagues, sports startups, VCs/investors, brands, etc.) together, so stay tuned!

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📰 Top Stories We’re Reading This Week 

🥽 Exclusive: Apple likely buyer of NextVR, a live event streaming AR/VR company being sold for ~$100M

🥽 17,000 doctors and nurses training for COVID-19 pandemic using VR technology

🥽 Facebook strikes deal for AR displays, squeezing out Apple

🚴‍♂️ Tottenham FC (Premiere League) adopting virtual group training

⌚Fitbit Charge 4 lands with GPS and a killer new sports metric – release date 15 April

⌚The Huawei Watch GT2e is official with sporty new look – and not much else

🚴‍♂️  People are hacking their Peloton bikes so they can watch Netflix and cheat the leaderboard ranking system

🧑‍⚕️Mercedes F1 Race team fast-tracks creation of revolutionary new Coronavirus breathing aid

🎮  Tribe gaming raises over $1M, including from NBA, WWE stars

🎮  NBA 2K players-only tournament: Results and takeaways from first day of games

💸 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

🥽 Exclusive: Apple likely buyer of NextVR, a live event streaming AR/VR company being sold for ~$100M | Via: 9TO5.COM

It’s no secret that Apple has ambitious plans for augmented reality and a future AR-focused headset. Apple is practically building the platform for its future headset out in the open with ARKit. What’s new is that Apple is believed to be in the process of acquiring a California-based virtual reality company called NextVR, 9to5Mac has learned. NextVR, which is located in Orange County, California, has a decade of experience marrying virtual reality with sports and entertainment. The company currently provides VR experiences for viewing live events with headsets from PlayStation, Oculus, HTC, Microsoft, Lenovo headsets.

The icing on the cake may not be expertise in virtual reality, however, as NextVR also has holds patented technology that upscales video streams. NextVR uses this technology to support high quality video streams of music and sporting events to VR headsets. NextVR holds over 40 technology patents in total. The company failed to secure a Series C round of funding in early 2019, however, which resulted in a 40% staff reduction at the time. NextVR’s focus on virtual reality was seen as a risk with the rise of augmented reality technology.

NextVR has partnerships in place with the NBA, Fox Sports, Wimbledon, and other live music and sporting event partners. The acquisition is expected to be valued around $100M, and a shell company formed this year that’s believed to be Apple is hiring most of the engineers who develop the product. While the acquisition hasn’t closed yet, the two companies have began informing employees who will need to relocate from the San Diego area to presumably the Cupertino area. We’ve reached out to Apple and NextVR for comment on the acquisition. We’ll update our coverage if we hear back from either company.

⬆️ The Upside:  If true, this would not come as a surprise to see Apple buy NextVR. Apple has big ambitions in VR and Apple is probably looking to (1) acquire a talented VR engineering team (2) Tap into existing relationships and deals with the NBA, Fox Sports, Wimbledon (3) strengthen its SW overall strategy. (3) Add good content to its upcoming VR headset offering. Based on our sources we have heard that many pro teams have found NextVR VR technology quite expensive especially the VR cameras. NextVR has been known for being in trouble for a while so this looks like a good acquisition for NextVR. Now for NextVR’s investors it would not be a big pay day as NextVR raised $115M. A $100M acquisition would be a way for them to cut their losses and breakeven. It would also be a way for NextVR investors to help NextVR find a new home and scale their VR platform. This is where Apple comes in as they have the reach with 1.4B iOS customers.

Picture: NextVR

🥽 17,000 doctors and nurses training for COVID-19 pandemic using VR technology | Via: TechRepublic

Oxford Medical Simulation is offering online VR training to help busy hospitals and medical facilities as they are being crushed by large numbers of patients during the coronavirus pandemic. A virtual reality (VR) medical training system built by Oxford Medical Simulation (OMS) is now being offered for free during the COVID-19 pandemic to help hospitals and medical schools bring in badly-needed additional staffers to provide patient care. OMS is providing the free use of its VR training system to health care facilities in the US, Canada and the UK so retired doctors and nurses can get back up to speed on patient care quickly. The hope is that these doctors and nurses can  return to help treat a steady stream of patients with other more typical medical emergencies, such as heart attacks, strokes, and broken bones while specialists are assisting coronavirus patients.

"At the moment, during the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals are beginning to recruit more doctors and nurses, but they are also bringing doctors and nurses back into practice who have left previously" due to retirements or going into other fields, said Dr. Jack Pottle, a physician in acute and internal medicine and the chief medical officer for OMS. There is this huge need to train people up quickly, whether they are in the profession or whether they are coming back to the profession to help during the pandemic," he said. Thousands of doctors and nurses are returning to the medical field now in response to the crisis, he added.

So far, some 50 hospitals and medical schools have accepted the company's free simulation training offer since March 16, said Pottle. That means that about 17,000 additional medical professionals and students have signed up to gain the ability to boost and increase their patient care skills so they can help in medical facilities that are being hard-hit with COVID-19 cases. The company had already been working with about 50 hospitals and medical schools to provide its virtual medical training since its platform hit the market about 18 months ago.Two doctors talk with a patient in this animated training image.

⬆️ The Upside:  As we indicated last week, VR is set to play a critical role in the coming month. VR training is one of the most compelling use cases for VR. Companies such as STRIVR Labs or Talespin have built a solid business based on VR training. In this time of crisis, where the medical staff has to train new nurses quickly VR training is a very quick and efficient way to do that. We expect many more hospitals and clinics to adopt VR training systems. We also expect them to adopt VR collaboration tools to increase staff’s productivity and efficiency. We also expect many pro teams and leagues to adopt VR training systems to help players stay in shape physically and mentally during this challenging environment. We covered this quite extensively in our recent analysis on COVID-19: How Tech Can Help Save The Game (VR training, MR/AR, Holographic press conferences..).

Picture: Oxford Medical Simulation (OMS)

🥽 Facebook Strikes Deal for AR Displays, Squeezing Out Apple | Via: The Information

Facebook has struck a deal to buy all of the augmented reality displays made by British firm Plessey, as the social network looks to build AR glasses capable of overlaying virtual objects onto the real world. The deal could give Facebook an edge over Apple, which recently looked at buying Plessey, one of the few makers of AR displays, according to two people familiar with the matter. 

Instead, Plessey will license its technology to Facebook and dedicate its U.K.-based factory to supplying Facebook over several years, both companies confirmed. Facebook could have tried to buy Plessey to gain access to its AR displays, but that would likely have brought intense regulatory scrutiny. Striking an exclusive supply deal speeds up the work and gives Facebook the benefits of an acquisition without a lengthy regulatory review.

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe this is an expected move by Facebook who has to make a big splash in the AR glasses market. This is part of Facebook’s overall AR/VR vision to launch some hybrid AR/VR glasses for the masses. But Facebook is set to face fierce competition from the likes of Apple, Google and Samsung in the coming years. Of note, according to the research report from Fact & Factors, the global AR and VR smart glasses market in 2019 is approximately $7.5B today and is anticipated to reach around $46B by 2026. The anticipated CAGR for the AR and VR smart glasses market is around 24% from 2020 to 2026.

🚑 Wearables, Health, Nutrition News

🚴‍♂️ Tottenham FC (Premiere League) adopting virtual group training | Via: Football.london

Jose Mourinho has been getting involved as Tottenham Hotspur continue with their virtual training sessions. With all of the Spurs players at home during the government-enforced lockdown, they have begun virtual sessions this week with the squad all linked together via video to join in fitness sessions. Mourinho and a couple of his coaches have been at Hotspur Way with fitness staff to lead the sessions from the first team gym area.

The latest video released last Wednesday by the club shows a large screen set up with the players, including Toby Alderweireld, Dele Alli, Davinson Sanchez, Harry Winks, Serge Aurier and Dele Alli, all being put through their paces. The video shows Mourinho leading the way on an exercise bike and also going through the same stretches as the players. The players will also be asked to do ball work, as much as possible, in order to maintain their fitness over the weeks ahead. Every player has also been assigned a contact each from the club's medical and sports science teams to help oversee their home exercise programmes and ensure they are not having issues. Players considered available to train are contacted three times a week by their physio contact to ensure they are having no issues with their dedicated home exercise programme. Sports science staff are in contact more regularly to oversee these programmes for fit players. In addition, those recovering from injuries in Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Steven Bergwijn - the latter two back in South Korean and the Netherlands respectively - have access to video sessions with Tottenham's physios. The club is also providing players with any equipment from Hotspur Way that they may require to fulfil their programmes such as exercise bikes, rollers and weights.

🎥 You can watch the video here

⬆️ The Upside: We believe this is a great move by the Spurs. Based on our sources, many pro teams are adopting a similar strategy to make sure that their players are continuing to be in shape, are healthy and are maintaining their weight. We gathered some testimonials from 17 sports performance experts from various leagues (MLS, NHL..FIFA, European soccer), and Olympic teams 2 weeks ago on what to do to keep players healthy during the COVID-19 crisis.

Fitbit Charge 4 lands with GPS and a killer new sports metric – release date 15 April | Via: Wareable

The Fitbit Charge 4 is official and, as revealed by Wareable, includes GPS for the first time – and puts a renewed focus on heart rate, fitness and workouts. It's already available for pre-order ahead of a 15 April release date. The Fitbit Charge series has always been the Fitbit of choice for workout fans, offering the most advanced feature set of any Fitbit activity tracker – and often receives cutting edge tech before the company’s smartwatches, such as the Fitbit Versa 2.

From the images it doesn’t look like much has changed. Indeed, the body of the Fitbit Charge 4 remains untouched from the Charge 3. That’s not a bad thing necessarily – we’d have loved to have seen a slimmer band or better display, but Charge 3 straps are still compatible with the new device, so there should be plenty of cheap options for customisation. Adding GPS was top of our wishlist for new features, and we now have it. It’s now been added to the Charge 4, allowing users to track outdoor workouts without the need for a paired smartphone. GPS has, until now, been limited to “specialist” Fitbit devices such as the Fitbit Ionic and Surge – outliers in the company’s range – a watershed moment for Fitbit and not before time.The Fitbit Charge 4 still has 5ATM water resistance, 7 days of battery life, heart rate, VO2 Max tracking, an SpO2 sensor that estimates blood oxygen variation. But runners and HIITers out there have much more to cheer about.

The Fitbit Charge 4 looks like a really smart update, and finally this is the powerful fitness band that the Charge series always promised to be. The Fitbit Charge 4 will be priced at $149.99/£129.99 and will go on sale 15 April 2020. There will be a Special Edition ($179.99/£149.99) that includes an exclusive granite reflective/black woven band and an additional black sport band.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe this is a good move by Fitbit. However we are not impressed by the specs of the Fitbit Charge 4. In our view, Fitbit (now part of Google) needs to be more innovative when it comes to biosensing (Hydration, electrolyte, BP…) and health insights for its future wearable fitness offering. This is the only way for Fitbit to grab shares away from Apple in the wearable/watch market.

Picture: Fitbit

The Huawei Watch GT2e is official with sporty new look – and not much else | Via: Wareable

The leaks are true – Huawei has unveiled its new Huawei Watch GT2e although despite a snazzy new look it seems it's just an interim update to the existing GT2. Just as we suspected, the GT2e comes with a stainless steel case and a slightly tweaked design points at a sporty target market. The buttons are still laid out the same at 2 and 4 o’clock and the lugs have been smoothed out. The strap is now integrated, so there’s no hot-swapping, but it's better suited for getting sweaty. And it backs up its design credentials with 100 workout modes, from running and swimming to rock climbing and even parkour. We're sure most of these will simply be heart rate and calorie data, but with the benefit of the workout being tagged correctly.

The spec sheet shows a 14 day battery, just like the Huawei Watch GT2, and there’s allegedly 30 hours of GPS tracking, although we will be testing this properly when we get our full review. It keeps the SpO2 sensor for monitoring blood oxygen found on the previous GT2 – and gives the Watch GT2e real credibility as a wellness and health watch. Blood oxygen variation is best used in sleep tracking and can offer a sign of some medical conditions. The overall look seeming to be a love child of the Apple Watch Nike Edition in the straps and the older Samsung Gear Sport in the body.The battery stays the same size at 455mAh. The Huawei Watch GT2e is going on sale in Europe at €199. Due to its issue in the US we’re unsure whether it will be available Stateside.

⬆️ The Upside: We like the design of this new Huawei smartwatch as well as the capabilities (long battery life, biosensing capbilities..). However we do not believe that it will be enough for Huawei to become a solid contender to offset Apple’s dominance in the smartwatch market. Huawei is far behind Apple in the smartwatch market capturing 7.8% of market share in 4Q19, Vs 36% for Apple. What Huawei needs to do is to be more innovative when it comes to biosensing and health insights capabilities and be more aggressive on pricing.

The Huawei Watch GT2e is official with SpO2 and sporty new look

Picture: Huawei

🚴‍♂️  People are hacking their Peloton bikes so they can watch Netflix and cheat the leaderboard ranking system | Via: Business Insider

For the 500,000 paying subscribers of the exercise-bike startup, this rigidity is a major draw. Peloton's bikes come with a touchscreen tablet meant to show just one type of video: Peloton's rotation of personal trainers shouting words of encouragement.

These workout videos are packaged with preselected music and software that tracks cyclists' speed, and sold for a $39-per-month subscription on top of the cost of a stationary bike. This is the only software that Peloton intends its users to access while spinning. But some users are jailbreaking their Pelotons to get around those parameters. For some, this means "rooting" the Android-based tablet attached to the Peloton to access apps like Netflix and Spotify instead of Peloton's own software. Others are seemingly hacking the exercise bikes to artificially log impressive race times and shoot to the top of the service's leaderboard rankings, much to the annoyance of the broader Peloton community. The practice of jailbreaking cycles is relatively niche, but it illustrates how people are finding ways to use products outside the traditional business model of Peloton, which relies on subscribers paying to use the services that the cycles' tablets are intended for.

⬆️ The Upside: Hackers are making Peloton + Netflix a reality. In our view, they should add a work videoconference (Zoom, Team) capabilities to Peloton to invite team workers so work can be more fun..too. More seriously we are seeing more hackers breaking into popular systems during this challenging environment. We expect many more digital business to be impacted by hackers moving forward.

🧑‍⚕️ Mercedes F1 Race Team Fast-Tracks Creation of Revolutionary New Coronavirus Breathing Aid | Via: TheMindUnleashed.com

A collaboration between Mercedes Formula One and a group of clinicians and engineers has led to the creation of a new type of breathing aid for CoViD-19 patients. The Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) breathing aid delivers oxygen to patients’ lungs without the need for a ventilator and has commonly been used to treat sleep apnea. Now, an improvement on the device, is allowing those suffering from CoViD-19 to breathe easier without needing to be intubated. The device, which was created within 100 hours of the first conceptual meeting, has been widely used with success on patients in China and Italy and has already been approved for use by the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS), reportsBBC.

Engineers at University College London (UCL) and clinicians at UCL’s NHS Foundation Trust worked around the clock with experts from the U.K.-based Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains to reverse engineer the device based on the CPAP system. Forty of the devices are already being rolled out to University College Hospital (UCLH) and three other hospitals in London. If the trials are successful, the German automotive giant will be able to mass-produce the CPAP machines at a rate of 1,000 per day.

⬆️ The Upside: F1 teams have deep expertise when it comes to advanced engineering. Therefore we are not surprised to see an F1 team coming to the rescue and build this type of device to deliver oxygen to patients’ lungs without the need for a ventilator and has commonly been used to treat sleep apnea. We expect more automobile companies to jump on the bandwagon in the coming weeks and leverage their engineering staff to create innovative technologies that can have a positive impact during this difficult time.

Picture: McLaren (F1)

🎮 Esports & Crypto-Currency News

🎮  Tribe Gaming raises over $1M, including from NBA, WWE stars | Via: Esportinsider.com

Mobile-centric esports organisation Tribe Gaming has closed its seed funding round, raising over $1M. Boston Celtics player Gordon Hayward was part of the round, alongside WWE pro wrestler Claudio “Cesaro” Castagnoli. They will serve as strategic advisors to the organisation along with others who contributed.

Patrick “Chief Pat” Carney, CEO of Tribe Gaming, commented in a release: “Just a few years ago, mobile games were dismissed as simple puzzles and time-wasters – now mobile has grown into its own ecosystem of complex games and world-class competition, with an extremely passionate fan base at its core. We started Tribe to help mobile gaming grow into the best it can be, and I’m grateful for the confidence our new investors have placed in our vision to help it reach the next level.”

Other investors in the round include Kristian Segerstrale, CEO of game developer Super Evil Megacorp, along with angel investor Victor Krahn. The round will help fuel Tribe’s expansion plans ahead, including a headquarters and content creation lab in Austin, Texas. Tribe Gaming currently competes in Clash Royale, Clash of Clans, Brawl Stars, PUBG Mobile, and Call of Duty Mobile.

⬆️ The Upside: This does not come as a surprise to see a top athlete invest into an esport organization. Many other top athletes (Steph Curry, Shaq, Serena Williams..) have invested into esports startups in order to endorse their products and surf the wave of the fast growing esport market which recently passed the $1B revenue mark.

🎮  NBA 2K players-only tournament: Results and takeaways from first day of games | Via: CBS Sports

The NBA is the latest league to pivot its athletes to esports during its hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. NBA basketball might be on hold, but its players have partnered with ESPN to give us something that vaguely resembles it as the United States continues to endure a prolonged coronavirus-driven lockdown. Players from around the league agreed to participate in an "NBA 2K20" tournament with full games and commentary from the participants televised. 

That tournament kicked off with four games last Friday. Four of the 16 participants moved on, and the results were as follows: 

Four of the 16 participants moved on, and the results were as follows: 

With one day of games in the books, here are our biggest takeaways from the NBA's attempt to provide fans with some sort of live content while actual games remain on hiatus.  If this were the NCAA Tournament, every bracket in America would be busted. No. 1 Kevin Durant fell to No. 16 Derrick Jones Jr. No. 3 Hassan Whiteside was beaten by No. 14 Patrick Beverley. No. 10 DeAndre Ayton took down No. 7 Zach LaVine. Friday was anarchy.  This is the sort of chaos that comes from a tournament with no preliminary rounds.

⬆️ The Upside: We think this is a great move by the NBA and the NBA 2K. It is part of the NBA’s and NBA 2K’s current and future strategy to tap into the fast growing esport market, and continue to offset the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and attract a new audience. Last year we had the honor to interview Brendan Donohue, Managing Director of the NBA 2K League. You can check out the podcast interview with Mr Donohue here.

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

  • VR training startup STRIVR Labs raises $30M in Series-B funding. Read on here.

  • Pokemon Go Maker Niantic buys AR startup 6D.ai. Read on here. 

  • Aspen Neuroscience raises $70M for its experimental Parkinson’s Disease treatment.

  • Doctor Anywhere raises $27M for remote consultations.

  • Torque Esports acquires Motorsports coverage brand WTF1.

📊 Key Tech Sports Stats of The Week

$2.6B: In the first week of free agency, players signed deals worth up to $2.6B, according to NFL Players Association figures. That’s a 6.5% increase over the first week of 2019’s free agency, according to the Wall Street Journal.

-$1B: An estimated $1B in advertising spending combined across the NHL, NBA, and MLB could be lost because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to data by MediaRadar cited by Forbes. That estimated loss only considers national telecasts only and is a gross figure, so it does not include any revenue generated by substitute programming.

The analysis from MediaRadar found that the broadcasts of the NBA, MLB, and NHL combined for over $1 billion in advertising spend from March to May 2019. Amount brought in by national broadcast by league over the March-May 2019 period.

  • NBA - $839M

  • NHL - $120M

  • MLB - $60M

$692M: If the NBA were to shut down the season and cancel the playoffs, it could cost a combined $692M for ESPN, ABC and TNT ($481M for ESPN and ABC, and TNT $211M) in lost ad revenue, media analyst Michael Nathanson told the Journal. That comes on top of the $400M revenue dip the NBA was expecting due to its friction with China sparked from a tweet supporting protestors in Hong Kong by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey.

$330M: The top-tier German Bundesliga (DFL) is exploring options to raise up to $330M in private equity cash amid uncertainty the league may not receive payment from broadcasters for games this season, Bloomberg reported. 

$153M: The English Premiere league (EPL) voted to advance funds of $153M to try to offset the impact of COVID-19 on the EFL and the National League.

121M: The hours people actually spent streaming via Twitch jumped by about 20% compared to the prior quarter, reaching an all-time high of 121M hours, up from 77.9M in Q1 2018. This spike was partially due to the COVID-19 crisis.

$100M: Sony established a $100M COVID-19 global relief fund. Of note, Samsung also announced a $29M COVID-19 relief fund.

3.2M: F1 Virtual Grand Prix recorded 3.2M online viewers for its esports F1 competition. Speaking to SportsPro, the global motorsport series’ head of digital growth and esports, Julian Tan, has said: “We had 3.2M viewers online and on TV we’re estimating 1.2M, which are very strong figures all around”. By comparison, NASCAR reported that it had 903K viewers for its new esport competition.

1.2M: The New England Patriots' team plane transported 1.2M N95 masks from Shenzhen, China, to the United States.

5000: According to Le Parisien, last week, the players and the staff of the French National Soccer team (FFF/Les Bleus) of France will soon make a significant donation to help the nursing staff of the hospitals of Ile de France and support research at the national level, facing the pandemic of COVID-19. The sum will be paid in the coming days to the foundation of the Public Assistance-Hospitals of Paris (AP-HP). les Bleus and the FFF want to go beyond a check, by offering 5,000 places to nursing staff for each match of the Blues at the Stade de France until the end of the year. 1,000 places will also be offered for each meeting in the provinces. This system also applies to the French women's team.

+85%: During the first 3 weeks of March 2020, we have seen a spike in terms of video streaming. In fact, the total estimated number of minutes streamed to TV by U.S. consumers was 400B, up 85% compared to the same three-week period in 2019, according to Nielsen. This was partially due to many people being on quarantine at home as a results of the COVID-19 crisis.

+65%: Before the COVID19 crisis, only 13% of employees worked remotely. Now 65% of businesses have expanded work from home policies, according to S&P market intelligence.

50%+: Snapchat is reporting increased engagement over the past few weeks amid the COVID-19 pandemic - much of that coming between close friends, it says. Snaps between friends reached an all-time high (passing Christmas and other major holidays), and time spent video and voice calling has grown by more than 50% from last month. Group Chat engagement is also at an all-time high.

x17: Growth in downloads for video conferencing apps such as Zoom, Google hangouts, TEAMs have seen tremendous growth over the past few weeks due to the COVID-19.

-70%: Barcelona's Lionel Messi agreed to 70% pay cut amid COVID-19 pandemic.

-65%: In the week ending March 21, athletic footwear sales were down by 65% compared to the same week last year, according to the NPD Group.

-20%: Top NCAA management took a 20% pay cut due to the lost revenue from the COVID-19 cancellations.

📸 The Upside: Snapshots & video of The Week.

People sleeping more due to COVID-19. A silver lining: Following the COVID-19 shelter-in-place directives we are getting more of much-needed sleep! This should help strengthen our immune system and improve our health! The data may also show that people's bedtime hasn't changed much, but with fewer constraints, schools closed and many workplaces closed, people, in general, have relaxed their wakeup time. More information at www.fullpower.com

Picture: FullPower Technologies

MOTO GP goes virtual. Last week Moto GP launched its first virtual Moto GP competition. The event was a success and well received by the fans.

Pro teams coming to the rescue. FC Girondins de Bordeaux, a pro soccer (Ligue 1) made its team truck available to transport medical staff to help fight COVID-19. Well done Girondins de Bordeaux!!

VC investing in China already bouncing back: The VC fundraising market in China is now coming back to life, according to data from Denis Barrier (Cathay Innovation).

COVID-19 startups. More than 70 companies and startups from Israel are working on tech to fight coronavirus, as shown in the map below. Click here for the bigger map: https://bit.ly/2Urjtx8