Judging the Success of Pepsi’s Newest Athlete Endorsement    BY ADAM GROSSMAN & JOSH HERZBERG     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      It has been a whirlwind ride for New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge. From setting a new rookie homerun record to leading his team to the playoffs to unanimously winning the American League Rookie of the Year award, Judge has had a terrific year. His on-field success has helped translate into off-field partnership opportunities with companies including Rawlings, Under Armour, and Fanatics. It seemed like a no-brainer for PepsiCo (full disclosure: PepsiCo is a Block Six Analytics (B6A) client) to take a swing on an endorsement deal with Judge announced on Monday.  Looking at standard social media valuation metrics, however, would likely say that this is not the case. For example, we used the Block Six Analytics (B6A)  Social Sentiment Analysis Platform (SAP)  to examine the value of a tweet by  Pepsi  and  Judge  to highlight their new relationship. An analysis of the followers would suggest that Pepsi’s reach would dwarf Judge’s based on each of their follower counts. Conventional wisdom states the larger the reach the more value that could be delivered to the brand.   Twitter: Pepsi – 3.1 million followers; Judge – 220,000 followers   However, a deeper analysis shows that Pepsi made a very good choice in partnering with Judge. In particular, Pepsi’s goal in working with Judge is not necessarily to increase exposure. Pepsi has near ubiquitous brand awareness for its current and potential customers. One of Pepsi’s goals is to increase engagement with these customers. Our SAP analysis found that:   Judge (4.44%) had a significantly higher engagement than Pepsi (0.01%) for comparable posts.  Judge (9,789 engagements) had a far greater number of engagements than Pepsi (266 engagements) even though Pepsi has a far larger number of followers.  Judge (368,009 impressions) did also have a significantly higher number of expected impressions than Pepsi (10,000 impressions).  Judge’s ability to increase engagement enables Pepsi to better achieve its initiative (what the company is trying to accomplish), demographic (whom the company is trying to target), and channel (what is the most effective way to reach these demographics) goals as demonstrated by B6A’s  Corporate Asset Valuation Model . This model examines how specific partnership opportunities help a specific company generate lifts in revenue and marketing goals across the initiatives, demographics, and channels of a partnership.   All of these factors helped Judge’s tweet generate  $3,721.63 in value  to Pepsi while its own tweet only generated  $98.67 in value .     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     While SAP has the ability to examine Facebook and Instagram, we did not include these in this analysis. Judge does not have a Facebook account and Pepsi did not have a post directly about Judge on its Instagram account. Judge did post the same video from his Twitter account to his  Instagram account  and that post did generate a similar number of views and engagements as his tweet even though his Instagram account has about a little more than half the followers as Pepsi’s.  This also does not mean that teams, athletes, or brands with large platforms are not valuable to partners. We have previously shown that  Rakuten  is able to achieve its goal of increasing brand awareness in the U.S. by partnering with the Golden State Warriors specifically because of the exposure the team can generate. The takeaway is that different brands will have different goals when it comes to their partnerships in sports. Moving beyond reach and creating a customized valuation to clearly demonstrate how and why value is created is critical to evaluating the success of a partnership. This is exactly what Pepsi has done in developing a relationship with Judge.
BY ADAM GROSSMAN AND JOSH HERZBERG

Judging the Success of Pepsi’s Newest Athlete Endorsement

It has been a whirlwind ride for New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge. From setting a new rookie homerun record to leading his team to the playoffs to unanimously winning the American League Rookie of the Year award, Judge has had a terrific year. His on-field success has helped translate into off-field partnership opportunities with companies including Rawlings, Under Armour, and Fanatics. It seemed like a no-brainer for PepsiCo (full disclosure: PepsiCo is a Block Six Analytics (B6A) client) to take a swing on an endorsement deal with Judge announced on Monday.

       How the Astros and Cubs World Series Titles Apply to Evaluating Sponsorship    BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      This year seemed to be the crowning achievement for baseball analytics. The Houston Astros relied heavily on data analysis to construct their 2017 World Series Championship team. This appeared to be a similar formula to what the Chicago Cubs used to end their 108-year World Series victory drought last season. A natural question becomes: why doesn’t every MLB team follow the Astros and Cubs actions to create a winning team?  Despite surface similarities, the Astros and Cubs took divergent analytics paths on their ways to winning championships. The Astros built their 2017 championship team primarily focused on offense. Baseball Reference, one of the most frequently used sites to find advanced analytics, highlights three metrics that demonstrate the team’s emphasis. The first is called BtRuns which  estimates  the number of runs contributed by a team’s players above what a normal player would produce while batting. The Astros as a team produced  228.1 BtRuns  this year. As context, the next highest BtRuns result in the American League (AL) was for the Minnesota Twins with  42.3 BtRuns .  The second metric to examine is called lgBA which looks at what the batting average of a team composed of average (non-pitcher) players would be if it played the same schedule (and more specifically played in the same stadia) as the team in comparison. The Astros had an AL high .281 batting average even though its lgBA was an AL low .246. What this means is that the Astros had the  league’s best betting average even though they played the league’s hardest schedule .  The Astros also were not a good fielding team in 2017. The Rtot metric  estimates  the number of runs prevented by a team’s players above what a normal player would produce while batting. The Astros placed  below league average of AL teams with a -8 Rtot  for the 2017 season. The Astros Rtot has actually  become worse  every year from 2015-2017.  This is not an accident. The Astros typically have a lower than league average lgBA which means the team is playing in places in which it is difficult to get hits. This means that a team that can score runs in difficult conditions will be consistently better than a team that fields better. The Astros demonstrated this perfectly in the 2017 season. The team was by far the most dominant offensive team in the AL while being the only team to make the playoffs with a below average defense.  So why is every team not like the Astros? One only has to look at the Cubs 2016 championship season. The Cubs emphasis on defense can be seen in its  117 Rtot for 2016 , by far the highest in the National League (NL). Jason Hayward had 30 Rtot by himself in 2016 making him extremely valuable to the Cubs even when he struggled on offense. The Cubs’ lgBA was .262 (4th highest in the NL) in 2016 while the team had a batting average of .256 (league average). While the Cubs did have the highest BtRuns in 2016 in the NL (which can show why batting average should not be the primary offensive statistic to examine) that number was only 40.1. In 2017, the Cubs made the playoffs with a BtRuns of -3.1. This analysis demonstrates that the Cubs typically play in hitter friendly stadiums (including most games at Wrigley Field) which puts defense at a higher premium for the team.  The Astros and Cubs demonstrate that there is not a single way for teams to win in baseball. Both teams rely heavily on analytics, and the data shows that each team should take a different approach in building their rosters. What is the lesson learned for buyers and sellers of sports sponsorship with this analysis?  The main takeaway is that there should not be a “one size fits all” valuation approach to sponsorship. More specifically, buyers of sports sponsorship could be the Astros or could be the Cubs. They will have different needs for achieving their sales and marketing goals because of the nature of their businesses and what works for one company will not always work for another company. Looking at the data can help determine what type of sponsorship asset will work better for a company.     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     A good example of looking at this type of approach is comparing a business-to-consumer (B2C) company to a business-to-business (B2B) company. B2C companies sell lower price items to a larger number of people. Good examples of B2C companies are quick-service restaurants, beverage companies, and apparel companies. B2B companies often sell higher price items to a smaller number of customers. Good examples of B2B companies are enterprise software companies, commercial lending companies, or manufacturing equipment companies.  The same suite at a sports venue will usually have different values for B2B companies vs. B2C companies. For B2B companies, it is rare to have the opportunity to spend 2-3 hours with a current or potential client that is spending thousands (and potentially millions) of dollars with your company. Many times a clients’ ability to access suites during a sports season is a primary reason for signing or renewing a relationship.  That is not necessarily as important of a consideration for B2C companies. While suites usually cost thousands of dollars, a B2C customer is spending at most hundreds of dollars with a company (and many times much less). This often makes suites less valuable to these types of companies.  The Block Six Analytics (B6A)  Corporate Asset Valuation Model  specifically examines these types of factors when determining overall sponsorship value. Similar to the Cubs and Astros, we realize that different companies need to prioritize different demographics, initiatives, and channels to achieve their financial and marketing goals. This approach to valuation is then layered into how our  artificial intelligence platforms  calculate value in near-real time. While (B6A) may not be on the cover of  Sports Illustrated , using analytics will help both buyers and sellers of sports sponsorship find assets that help them win at sponsorship spending by finding the best assets based on the specific goals of each sponsor.
BY ADAM GROSSMAN

How the Astros and Cubs World Series Titles Apply to Evaluating Sponsorship

The Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs demonstrate that there is not a single way for teams to win in baseball. Both teams rely heavily on analytics, and the data shows that each team should take a different approach in building their rosters. What is the lesson learned for buyers and sellers of sports sponsorship with this analysis?

       B6A Adds Optical Character Recognition To Its Media Analysis Platform    BY ADAM GROSSMAN, ALEX CORDOVER, ALBERTIO RIOS, & JOSH HERZBERG     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      Block Six Analytics (B6A) is pleased to announce the addition of optical character recognition (OCR) capability to our Ensemble Training Process (ETP) within our Media Analysis Platform. Adding OCR to our best-in-class logo detection in MAP increases the overall accuracy and speed needed to identify the time, location, prevalence, and value of images in videos and photos for specific brands for specific activations.  “Our proprietary approach to training solves critical challenges that have impacted the accuracy and speed of object identification,” said CEO Adam Grossman. “By adding text-based analysis to our process, B6A's clients receive better results than human or image detection alone.”  Using OCR enables B6A to add detection and character recognition for identifying logos that are primarily text based. In the past, machine learning platforms have had difficulty capturing text logos because they have different features than image-based logos. In particular, letters look very similar which makes them easy to read but hard for a machine to differentiate.  B6A’s proprietary approach enables us to identify and treat these logos as though they were text so we can use natural language processing (NLP). Our system is able to determine unique words by looking at the distance between sequences of letters in an object. For example, the object below shows how our system recognizes “PPG” because it can identify the “P” and determine how far it is from the “P”, and “G”. Each word has different combinations of distances, and the system uses this as the way to identify an object in a video. We then use our proprietary algorithms to both layer in core visual metrics (centricity, prevalence, time, and clarity) and calculate value.         

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Text analysis does not work with every logo. For image based logos, the problem with training a system is image collection. In particular, it is necessary to collect hundreds, if not thousands, of images in a similar environment to where the object appears in the video. B6A’s proprietary image synthesizer is used to automate this process, requiring only 10-20 original images and then synthesizing the remaining images needed to complete the training set. By streamlining the process to create training data, MAP can be trained on a new logo and deliver results in as little as 24 hours.  Once MAP is trained, it can fully process games / events and produce results in the same day on which the game or event occurred. B6A’s system can track images in situations that were difficult to analyze before. These include:   Having a consistent approach to image occlusion. ETP combined with deep learning enables MAP to automatically determine if a logo / image is clear to a human viewer depending on how much of the image is blocked.  Identifying images with fast camera movement. For example, the TV camera pans up and down the ice during an NHL game. This situation has been difficult for machine learning systems to capture in the past. ETP dramatically reduces this as a problem enabling MAP to identify and value images in this type of video clip.   Combining both text and image analysis can increase the accuracy of detecting an object when it contains both elements. Because B6A’s ETP uses image-based, text-based, or a combination of both approaches in MAP, we are able to process videos quickly and accurately using the latest advances in object identification. For more information about MAP and ETP, contact  Block Six Analytics .
BY ADAM GROSSMAN, ALEX CORDOVER, ALBERTO RIOS & JOSH HERZBERG

B6A Adds Optical Character Recognition To Its Media Analysis Platform

Block Six Analytics (B6A) is pleased to announce the addition of optical character recognition (OCR) capability to our Ensemble Training Process (ETP) within our Media Analysis Platform. Adding OCR to our best-in-class logo detection in MAP increases the overall accuracy and speed needed to identify the time, location, prevalence, and value of images in videos and photos for specific brands for specific activations.

       Interview With NFL Network Analyst and Game Theory and Money Podcast Co-Host Cynthia Frelund   BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
       Cynthia Frelund joined NFL Network in 2016 as an analytics expert, providing her unique insight into the game on NFL Fantasy LIVE and GameDay Morning. She is also the co-host of the Game Theory and Money podcast. Prior to joining the NFL, Cynthia worked at ESPN and Disney. She graduated with a Masters of Business Administration and Masters in Predicative Analytics from Northwestern University.      This interview has been edited for clarity and length.     Why do you want to pursue a career at the intersection of sports and analytics?   I am huge sports fan, but my path into the NFL was through Anthony Noto who was the CFO of the NFL (now the COO at Twitter). Before he was at the NFL, I used to read his Goldman Sachs equity research reports and I loved the way he structured his thoughts, and he was smart and it was interesting to listen to what he had to say. Given my background in finance and strategy and my passion for sports, working at the NFL was a great opportunity.    Why the NFL?   The impact on analytics in baseball is pretty widely accepted. Use of analytics in the NFL is far more nascent. We are kind of geeks in a corner in the NFL. I own that. I like that I could ask larger strategic questions and have the opportunity to be impactful in the space. It is exciting to be a pioneer in a new market.  I saw that I really had an opportunity to focus on bridging the sports performance and business sides in the NFL. The NFL has unique performance valuations. Unlike the MLB or the NBA, the NFL has a hard salary cap. Looking at the on-field product and what coaches have to do to win a game is also very intriguing.   How do fans interact with what you are doing?   I am really lucky in that the work I did at ESPN prior to the NFL and at the NFL I have great support from my executives. I have really good producers that are able to take complex concepts and distill them into good stories. No one needs to read or listen to a PhD dissertation on a pregame show.  Yet, people want to know the significant information. What I provide is the opposite of the hot take. It is a logical argument. There is no Cynthia-bias in it. They are getting their own [Cleveland Browns Chief Strategy Officer] Paul DePodesta. I have seen fans go deeper into the math throughout the years. It is awesome, and my favorite part of the job.   What technology do you use?   I code in everything from Python to R to relational databases. I am pretty good at using new tools to solve problems and answer questions. I also use Open-Source video tools (most familiar with tensorflow). Computer vision models are also great.  In particular, it is cool to use deep learning and video to look at shapes and angles of players in video. It allows me to create the “waist bender” metric for offensive line play. Offensive linemen that can keep hips parallel and stay low are better at protecting quarterbacks because they do not lose leverage on their defensive counterparts. I was able to map NFL performance back to the NFL combine 40-yard dash results to find elite, above average, average, below average, and well below average waist benders. The lowest waist benders are the best at protecting quarterback. If you can keep your center of gravity low for the first ten yards during the 40-yard dash that is good (or a low waist bender) and if not it is bad (a high waist bender). You can see it as they run the 40 in the video and map the results using video. It is almost a continuous variable which shows that the lower you can stay, the better you will be at protection.   How important is communication in what you do?   I would not be able to get my job done without my knowledge of analytics, but I think it is like 60/40 communication. You would like to think that you can just be amazing at this, but it’s not enough. You must be able to tell the story of your findings, but you really need to be able to communicate in order to figure out what answers someone (a coach, etc) wants to explore. Choosing the right questions to explore is the key and you have to ask the people who would need to execute these findings what they care about and why.     Do you play your own fantasy team? How does it do?   I have a few fantasy teams. The one on NFL.com is difficult to pay attention to because I have to be on-air right before players lock and games begin. It is more important for other people to get the information than to use the information for my own team. In my one team that is very competitive, I have a bot to sub players in and out because my show is on right before the games start.   What the biggest misconception about what you do?   The biggest misconception is that analytics is like a bunch of listed statistics, and I can read them and they are all equally important or not important. The point is to put situations in context using data and take bias out of it.   Where is analytics in the NFL moving to in the future?   Safety is a big deal. Between the sports science technology with biometrics and training metrics there is a lot going on with each team. There is a lot of cool data showing where we can find situations where safety can be improved. For example, rule changes and information gathered and distributed about when and where injuries occur. It is really cool to see how data has and continues to help.   
BY ADAM GROSSMAN

Interview With NFL Network Analyst and Game Theory and Money Podcast Co-Host Cynthia Frelund

Cynthia Frelund joined NFL Network in 2016 as an analytics expert, providing her unique insight into the game on NFL Fantasy LIVE and GameDay Morning. She is also the co-host of the Game Theory and Money podcast. Prior to joining the NFL, Cynthia worked at ESPN and Disney. She graduated with a Masters of Business Administration and Masters in Predicative Analytics from Northwestern University.  

       Taking A Bite Out of D.C. Sports’ Apple   BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of the late Steve jobs, is  reportedly  “buying a significant stake in Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE), a sprawling $2.5 billion complex that includes the NBA Wizards, NHL Capitals and Capital One Arena.” The article by   The Washington Post     business reporter Thomas Heath contains two interesting insights.      The first insight is that Powell Jobs may have decided to invest in Monumental because she eventually can become the majority owner of MSE.  According to Heath , “If [Monumental Sports & Entertainment majority owner Ted] Leonsis, 60, retired, Powell Jobs has the resources to assume his shares. Leonsis has long been the lead shareholder, with around 40 percent. Most contracts with a stake of this size include language that allows the buyer, in this case Powell Jobs, the option of a path to ownership.”  Female majority owners of major professional sports teams are relatively rare. Currently, there are only three woman majority owners in the 30-team NBA. However, women are increasingly making up a large percentage of  the sports fan base . Having more female owners, given the changing demographics of sports customers, should serve to benefit teams and leagues in the future.  The second insight that Heath makes is more controversial. He  states , “Powell Jobs’ investment is part of a trend in which deep-pocketed financiers and Silicon Valley billionaires are buying stakes in professional sports properties, helping drive franchise prices to even greater heights.” The problem with this type of statement is that he is stating that the value of the team is determined by how much the team is purchased for and that the “deep-pocketed financiers” are the ones driving up value.  Yet, this a common way of looking at asset valuation when it comes to sports. As Heath later  asserts , “Forbes earlier this year estimated the Wizards’ value at $1 billion, but after recent sales in the league — including the Houston Rockets for $2.2 billion — the team is worth much more than that.” A natural question is why are the Wizards worth more than a $1 billion because the Rockets were sold for $2.2 billion?  Both teams do participate in NBA revenue sharing which includes the massive media rights deal that contributes $2.67 billion per year to the league. Yet, this deal had already been in effect and accounted for in the Forbes valuation. In addition, the Wizards and Rockets play in different sized arenas, have different local media rights deals, different sponsorship agreements, different population sizes, and different fan demographics. So why would the Wizards automatically be “worth more” because the Rockets sold for $2.2 billion?  A good to way to examine the value of sports teams is to look at the analysis we completed of the Los Angeles Clippers at the time when Steve Ballmer purchased the team in 2014. In asset valuation, there are usually three different approaches that can be used to determine value   Inherent valuation typically uses a discounted cash flow analysis which essentially looks at the operating income (or operating profit) that the company produces and discounts future cash flow so that they are equivalent to present day values.      

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              A discounted cash flow (DCF) valuation shows the Clippers worth $2.024 billion in 2014 when former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer purchased the team.  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


      Relative valuation uses a ratio analysis to determine the value of a company. The most typical ratio used to evaluate stocks is called the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio. The market capitalization (or overall listed value on a stock exchange) of a company is compared to the operating profit of that company. In our analysis, we compared the P/E ratio of the Clippers to major stock indexes.      

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Comparable valuation is where you compare comparable companies purchase prices to the company being evaluated. In 2014, there were fewer transactions in the sports industry than now.      

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     The average of these three types of valuation places the Clippers value at  $1.92 billion . The reason the Clippers were this valuable is not solely because other sports teams were being purchased at certain prices. In fact, for the Clippers that actually  lowered  the team’s overall value at the time. The Clippers were valuable because the operating income of the team increased. More specifically, all NBA teams received increased revenues from media rights deals (both national and local) that far exceeded their increased costs (primarily the increase in players’ salaries). For the Clippers, the team’s local media rights deal increased from around $20 million per year to the  “low-to-mid $50 million range” .  That is not to say that all NBA teams are profitable. For example,  MSE  “is close to breaking even financially” in part because the Wizards’ deal with NBC Sports Washington pays a reported  $35 million per year  – or at least $15 million less than the Clippers. This difference would potentially make the Wizards less valuable than the Clippers because the team likely generates less cash. The lower annual fees may be in part due to MSE now having a  33 percent equity ownership  interest in NBC Sports Washington. All of these factors, and not just the price of a recent transaction, need to be considered when looking at MSE’s value.  This type of analysis can and should be applied in other areas of the sports industry. For example, Block Six Analytics (B6A) corporate asset valuation and revenue above replacement models use all three valuation approaches to determine the price of a sponsorship or player contract, respectively. To clarify, we do complete a comparable analysis as part of our standard product offering. However, combining all valuation approaches enables us to look at the fundamentals of each asset type and determine how value is created for a business based on the impact a sponsorship has on revenue generation and achieving company goals. 
BY ADAM GROSSMAN

Taking A Bite Out of D.C. Sports’ Apple

Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of the late Steve jobs, is reportedly “buying a significant stake in Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE), a sprawling $2.5 billion complex that includes the NBA Wizards, NHL Capitals and Capital One Arena.” The article by The Washington Post business reporter Thomas Heath contains two interesting insights.  

       Amazon’s Attribution Approach To Streaming NFL Games   BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      “Content is king” is a familiar refrain in the media and entertainment industry. More specifically, compelling content enables companies to attract large audiences regardless of the distribution channel. Sports is the king of kings in this context. The reason that companies have spent billions of dollars on media rights deals with leagues, teams, and events is that sports consistently attracts large audiences watching live programming.  Traditionally, there have been two ways to monetize sports audiences. Broadcast networks and digital companies with steaming platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Yahoo have focused on using sports to sell advertisements to companies looking to target lucrative sports audiences. ESPN and regional sports networks (RSNs) have generated billions of dollars annually in the carriage fees that they charge cable and satellite providers for offering these channels to their subscribers.  The fact that Amazon is potentially breaking this traditional monetization model is what makes its new over-the-top streaming deal for Thursday night football games particularly interesting. Starting this Thursday, a reported  80 million  Amazon Prime members will be able to access the games for free.  Amazon has the capability to sell ads during these NFL games. While 80 million is a large potential audience, it is far lower than the  328 million  daily active global users on Twitter’s platform where NFL Thursday night games were streamed last year. Therefore, Amazon’s potential reach right now is significantly lower, making it arguably less attractive to advertising.  In addition, Amazon will be using NFL content to try to increase the number of Amazon Prime users. By paying $99 per year, Prime customers will receive access to exclusive NFL content while receiving other benefits such as faster shipping of products. However, Prime users make up only a relatively small portion of Amazon’s total customer base. Unlike ESPN and RSNs, a large number of Amazon’s customers are not using the ecommerce platform because it has NFL content.     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Amazon's first live stream of Thursday NFL games is September 28th.    
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     Instead, Amazon’s platform enables a company to focus on the quality of its audience rather than the quantity of its audience. More specifically, Amazon users that become Prime customers sign up because they are active buyers of products. Amazon’s NFL stream becomes compelling content for two reasons. Amazon’s wants its Prime buyers on its site as much as possible. In particular, the customers specifically buy Prime accounts because they are active users on the platform. The more frequently Amazon can get the users on the platform the more likely that Amazon can increase its revenue.  Advertisers can also maximize the probability of driving direct revenue by using Amazon through commercials. On other channels, when people see a commercial showcasing something that they may wish to purchase, they have to go to another website to make the purchase. With Amazon, however, a customer is watching a game on the platform where they can also buy the products being advertised directly. Reducing the customer journey will make it easier for companies to sell more products while also enabling companies to much more clearly attribute advertising dollars to a specific promotion or channel.  Examining click-through rates (CTR) is a good example of this new model. In the past, a company would typically measure how often customers clicked on an advertisement to come to its website. It then could measure how many people that clicked on the ad and made a purchase. This required the customer to leave the platform where they were viewing content and also to have a time lag for when they made the purchase. This effort is one reason that CTRs are often lower than companies would like.   For Thursday Night Football, a Prime customer does not have to leave Amazon’s platform to make a purchase. This makes it as easy as possible for customers who are the most likely to make a purchase to complete a transaction. Companies can then also potentially see when spikes in purchasing activity occur from Amazon and likely attribute this success to this channel.  This does not mean that companies do not receive significant value from working in other more traditional channels. Reaching a large audience is a critical objective for many companies. In particular, there are many companies for which revenue from Amazon or ecommerce does not constitute a large proportion of total revenues. Also, there are several other channels that companies need to explore from an advertising and sponsorship perspective that will help companies achieve their revenue and brand goals. In particular, reaching as large of an audience as possible to increase customer acquisition and brand awareness is a critical objective for many companies looking to advertise in or sponsor sports.  However, Amazon’s streaming of NFL games does have the capability to change the content dynamic for sports in a positive way. As some sports have seen a decline in ratings, focusing on the quality of the audience watching games and events is critical. The fact that Amazon has the capability to show significant lifts in purchases and revenue for companies during streams can extend sports’ reign as content king for years to come.
BY ADAM GROSSMAN

Amazon’s Attribution Approach To Streaming NFL Games

Content is king” is a familiar refrain in the media and entertainment industry. More specifically, compelling content enables companies to attract large audiences regardless of the distribution channel. The fact that Amazon is potentially breaking the traditional monetization model is what makes its new over-the-top streaming deal for Thursday night football games particularly interesting

       Rakuten Strikes Gold With Warriors Jersey Patch Deal   BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      The Golden State Warriors have reportedly reached a $20 million per year jersey patch agreement with Rakuten. The Japanese tech company will be featured on the Warriors’ jersey for the next three seasons. The fact that the Warriors would sign the most lucrative jersey patch deal in the NBA is not surprising. The team has won two of the past three NBA Championships, has numerous international stars, and is situated in the Bay Area near Silicon Valley.  The fact that the team received  nearly double  the amount of the second highest team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the fact that the deal is with Rakuten, a company few people in the U.S. have likely heard of until now, is surprising. Why would Rakuten spend this amount of money for a jersey patch deal?  Rakuten is a well-known brand in Japan and owns cash-back site Ebates, messaging app Viber and e-book brand Kobo. The company, which generates $7 billion  in revenue  per year, does have a history of targeting expensive apparel rights deals. The company is paying almost $60 million per year to be featured on the jerseys of FC Barcelona.  However, it does appear that Rakuten is following best practices through its new relationship with the Warriors. In particular, Rakuten’s CEO Hiroshi Mikitani understands that his company lacks brand awareness in the U.S. even though its North American headquarters is based in San Francisco.  According to  Mikitani , "We want to be a household name like Google and Facebook. Our partnership in Barcelona has helped us in Spain, and the Warriors will certainly be a pillar of getting us there in United States."  Jersey patch deals are an excellent fit for companies looking to maximize brand awareness because of the amount of exposure they will receive on television, digital, and social media channels. The new badge with the Warriors in particular (what the team is calling the jersey patch) will enable Rakuten to achieve significant brand exposure to a tech-savvy audience in Silicon Valley and throughout the United States (over 84% of NBA fans use online devices for sports-related purposes according to the research firm SBRnet).   We examined the value generated by the Golden State Warriors in Twitter through the NBA playoffs using B6A’s Social Sentiment Analysis Platform.     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     We found that the team generated $2.49 million dollars in value and over 201 million impressions during the playoffs alone. We also discovered that several of the most valuable posts featured photos with the team’s jersey’s prominently displayed in the image with earned media coming from coverage in  ESPN  and   The New York Times  . We would estimate that the team would generate $5 million in revenue from Twitter for the season and likely more from Facebook and Instagram given that NBA audiences are larger in these social media networks according to research firm SBRnet.    In addition, Rakuten expanded its deal to include terms that can directly help its business generate revenue. According to ESPN’s  Darren Rovell , “Rakuten will be the team's official e-commerce, video-on-demand and affiliate marketing partner. Ebates will become the team's official shopping rewards partner, Viber will be the official instant messaging and calling app, while Kobo will be the official e-reader partner.” As the sports industry pursues technology innovations including e-commerce platforms for its products including tickets and merchandise as well as on-demand content delivered to fans across multiple devices, Rakuten is well positioned to utilize its relationship with the Warriors to monetize its products directly through its relationships.  Our analysis indicates that this deal likely should generate  significantly more  than the “$32 million to $37 million in equivalent advertising” projected by the Apex Marketing Group. Rakuten should generate a substantial positive ROI with the Warriors because the partnership will generate high quantity, quality, and engagement with its target audience in ways that will enable the company to achieve its economic and branding goals. 
BY ADAM GROSSMAN

Rakuten Strikes Gold With Warriors Jersey Patch Deal

The Golden State Warriors have reportedly reached a $20 million per year jersey patch agreement with Rakuten. The Japanese tech company will be featured on the Warriors’ jersey for the next three seasons. The fact that the Warriors would sign the most lucrative jersey patch deal in the NBA is not surprising. The fact that the team received nearly double the amount of the second highest team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the fact that the deal is with Rakuten, a company few people in the U.S. have likely heard of until now, is surprising. Why would Rakuten spend this amount of money for a jersey patch deal?

       Determining the Social Media Value of “Chicken Strip”    BY ADAM GROSSMAN and ALEX CORDOVER     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      “Tonight I started a Major League Baseball game with "Chicken Strip" across my back. Dreams do come true people!”  Most people could be forgiven for not understanding what this Tweet by Los Angeles Dodgers Starting pitcher Ross Stripling meant. Why would Stripling’s jersey say “Chicken Strip” instead of his last name?  August 25-27th was officially #PlayersWeekend where each player could use whatever nickname he wanted on the back of his jersey. Stripling’s selection of “Chicken Strip” may not even have been the most interesting nickname selection on his team. That honor may go to Yasiel Puig’s decision to use “Wild Horse”.  Why would Major League Baseball (MLB) decide to have #PlayersWeekend with nicknames as “interesting” as “Chicken Strip” and “Wild Horse”? One of the league’s goals is to appeal to younger demographics on social media channels. The goal of using these nicknames was to generate an increase in engagement with younger fans and attract them to consume MLB content.  Did the campaign work? We used our  Social Sentiment Analysis Platform (SAP ) to find out the answer. We examined the week of 08/22-08/29 for the keyword “MLB” to determine if the #PlayersWeekend had an impact on the league in Twitter.     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              The highest value MLB Tweet for the week of 08/22-08/29 involved #PlayersWeekend. There was also a positive increase in social sentiment when the #PlayersWeekend was used from 08/25-08/27.  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     The items in the red rectangles showcase our findings. We discovered that, over the week, the single most valuable tweet had the hashtag #PlayersWeekend. In addition, we noticed that #PlayersWeekend was associated with both positive sentiment and value, suggesting that it was well-received by fans.  However, of the top ten most valuable posts on Twitter related to the MLB this week, only the most valuable was associated with #PlayersWeekend. We found similar results at a more granular, team-by-team level: #PlayersWeekend did not significantly drive value above baseline levels for the MLB. Many of the top tweets for the MLB and teams were in Spanish, hinting that perhaps the humor of “Chicken Strip” did not translate well to audiences outside of the USA.  Overall #PlayersWeekend did contribute positively to the MLB’s social media efforts. With the MLB playoffs just around the corner, it is critical for the MLB to determine the best ways to reach new audiences with the most engaging content. By using the Sentiment Analysis Platform (SAP) to analyze social media feeds in near-real time, organizations like MLB can use data-driven insights to make adjustments during a season and maximize impact.
BY ADAM GROSSMAN AND ALEX CORDOVER

Determining the Social Media Value of “Chicken Strip”

August 25-27th was officially #PlayersWeekend where each player could use whatever nickname he wanted on the back of his jersey. Why would Major League Baseball (MLB) decide to have #PlayersWeekend with nicknames as “interesting” as “Chicken Strip” and “Wild Horse”?

      Hello Milo: How Autonomous Vehicles Can Make Driving Better For Sports Fans     BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      When it comes to autonomous technology, it is hard to think of a topic that has received more attention than self-driving vehicles. Autonomous technology typically refers to replacing tasks done manually by humans with some form of machine and / or machine learning. Companies such as Uber, Tesla and Google have spent millions of dollars developing new vehicles that rely on automated technology powered by sophisticated algorithms rather than humans as drivers.  Similar to much of autonomous technology, the future of autonomous vehicles is  complex  depending on your point-of-view. Today, however, autonomous vehicles are used as compliments to rather than replacements of cars. The Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers are good examples of teams that have determined  novel ways  to leverage autonomous driving.  More specifically, “Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers fans can soon be able to take driverless vehicles to and from the parking lots of AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Park about an hour before and after all games this season.”  The Cowboys have identified a common issue for sports fans when it comes to attending live events at professional sports venues. It often takes a long time to walk from a parking lot to the venue itself. Because parking lots are often very crowded at specific times (i.e. before and after games), it is very difficult for buses or larger shuttles to bring fans to the venue. Milo, the name for this new shuttle service, solves these problems. These vehicles are relatively small and can  drive  “on a pre-programmed route on paved off-street trails and stops at assorted, pre-designated stops throughout…stadiums’ parking lots and complexes.”  Because both the Cowboys and Rangers play in Arlington, a suburb of Dallas, many fans rely on cars to drive to games. Milo makes it much easier for fans to have a better travel experience because they will have significantly less stress about getting to their seats if they drive to a game. Given that many teams at both the professional and collegiate level have fans that want to drive to venues (in particular to tailgate before games), using a system like Milo should increase the likelihood of people coming to games, concerts, and events.  The city of Arlington using Milo for Cowboys or Rangers games also contains another feature that should be used when adapting new technology. Arlington has decided to  lease  “two self-driving, electric vehicles from France-based EasyMile for a one-year pilot program to explore autonomous transportation technology in a real-world setting.” Rather than making a large, up-front commitment to a new technology, the city of Arlington will test autonomous driving and see what improvements can be made in the future. The best way to see if a technology works is actually to see if the technology works.  By conducting a smaller-scale experiment, Arlington will have the information it needs to either move forward or end the program. Milo shows how testing new, autonomous technology can have a large impact on the fan experience with a relatively small time and monetary investment. 
BY ADAM GROSSMAN

Hello Milo: How Autonomous Vehicles Can Make Driving Better For Sports Fans

The future of autonomous vehicles is complex depending on your point-of-view. Today, however, autonomous vehicles are used as compliments to rather than replacements of cars. The Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers are good examples of teams that have determined novel ways to leverage autonomous driving. 

       Hard Knocks Shows the Value of NFL Jersey Patch Sponsorship    BY ADAM GROSSMAN, PAT MOCHEL, AND ANDREW JACOBS     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      While NBA jersey patches are receiving many of the headlines, the NFL training camps have begun with all but five teams featuring a corporate partner on the front shoulder of their  practice jerseys . These sponsors range from local healthcare providers, such as Advocate and Inova, to large corporations such as AT&T and Verizon. The question is why would partners want to be a practice jersey patch sponsor?  For starters, the NFL currently does not allow for teams to feature jersey patches on their regular season uniforms (unlike the NBA will for the upcoming season). More importantly, practice jerseys provide significant levels of exposure for partners on both a regional and national level. Regional media outlets cover every day of the weeks-long training camp and produce multiple articles every day. National media, such as  NFL.com , produce digital content daily of practice highlights and post-practice interviews. These jerseys generate millions of social media posts as fans and media share their thoughts on the training camp process.  That is why it is surprising that all NFL teams still do not have a practice jersey patch sponsor. In particular, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be featured on HBO’s hit series  Hard Knocks  starting today without a jersey patch sponsor. We focused on  Hard Knocks  because HBO provides the Buccaneers with more on screen time than virtually any other team during training camp. This added value makes a practice jersey patch sponsorship one of the most valuable in the league for this season.  To determine the potential value that the Buccaneers and a corporate partner are missing by not being featured on Hard Knocks, B6A used our  Media Analysis Platform (MAP) technology  to evaluate the Houston Texans during its appearance on the 2015 series (the last time a team was featured with a practice jersey patch sponsor). The Texans named Comcast Xfinity as its official training camp sponsor, a partnership that included a jersey patch on all player practice uniforms.  We found that the Xfinity jersey patch generated $108.1k in total value solely during first airing of the 5-episode  Hard  Knocks series. Our MAP technology generates this value based on number of impressions, centricity and prevalence of the logo, and sponsorship alignment. For this analysis, we only completed a MAP analysis for the television broadcasts where we found the Xfinity logo appeared for over two minutes per episode. Xfinity received more value in earned media through multiple channels including re-airs, digital, social, and mobile.  If exposure through  Hard Knocks  alone can generate a minimum of $100k in value, how much more lucrative would a gameday jersey patch sponsorship be for the teams and league? This highlights an interesting question for the league to consider. The NFL has  stated  that it does not want to have jersey patch sponsorship on for its gameday uniforms for several important reasons including its desire to focus on its  official uniform provider . More specifically, Nike pays millions of dollars every year to be the official apparel partner of the NFL and its logos are featured as the only commercial brand on the game jerseys.  However, MAP shows just how valuable jersey patch partnerships are for the league and its teams. More specifically, a game day jersey sponsorship would create significant value for brands looking to maximize brand awareness as a sponsor’s logo would be on screen for a much longer period of time and much larger audience than what occurs on  Hard Knocks.  With MAP, teams could display the value generated during a game 72 hours after the broadcast was completed. Having an underutilized asset combined with the ability to clearly and quickly communicate value makes the NFL gameday jersey patch one of the most interesting issues in the sports industry today.
BY ADAM GROSSMAN, PAT MOCHEL, AND ANDREW JACOBS

Hard Knocks Shows the Value of NFL Jersey Patch Sponsorship

While NBA jersey patches are receiving many of the headlines, the NFL training camps have begun with all but five teams featuring a corporate partner on the front shoulder of their practice jerseys. These sponsors range from local healthcare providers, such as Advocate and Inova, to large corporations such as AT&T and Verizon. The question is why would partners want to be a practice jersey patch sponsor?

       Entering The Drone Zone Augments the Fan Experience   BY PAT MOCHEL ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      Imagine being able to sit in the cockpit of a plane racing at high speeds through dangerous obstacles. While watching the Drone Racing League (DRL) does not fully simulate the experience of being a  Top Gun  pilot, it does enable its fans to see what it is like to be a drone pilot by using First Person View (FPV) technology. More specifically, pilots strap on virtual reality (VR) headsets which broadcast a feed from a camera located on the front of the drone. DRL fans get the adrenaline pumping feeling of twisting, turning and flipping a plane at 80 mph speeds all while racing against other pilots. The aggressive style of racing leads to some dramatic crashes similar to NASCAR and Formula One without any of the potential danger.  The FPV immersive environment is one of the key reasons that many fans, media, and sponsors are so excited with the new league. Fans generally want to have as much access to their favorite athletes and teams as possible. Social media has given fans this opportunity by enabling athletes and teams to directly communicate with their fans.  Through FPV however, fans can experience direct access to what a player sees during competition. It is this development that has many sports industry experts following the development of VR so closely. FVP could bring a viewer in the pocket with a quarterback, on the ice with a forward, or in the batter’s box with a major league hitter. The camera could also follow an athlete off to the sidelines and give insight to player-coach interactions or see how players prepare in practice. The potential possibilities FPV could have is virtually limitless.  One of the key questions facing the sports industry is what the impact of virtual reality (VR) will have on the fan experience. More specifically, will VR cannibalize existing revenue streams or augment them. If fans can get FPV experiences from the comfort of their homes or through their mobile devices, then they will be less likely to buy tickets to games or watch events on television.  The Allianz World Championships is a good example that these concerns may be exaggerated, at least in the near-term. Rather than cannibalizing current revenue streams, FPV seems to be augmented them. Even though the DRL is only in its second year of existence, the July 28th race features corporate partners such as Allianz, Bud Light, Sky Sports and will be broadcasted on ESPN. This in large part due to its ability to target young demographics in an immersive experience that maximizes fan engagement with the sport using FPV technology. Without FVP, it is not clear that the DRL would be as successful as it has been to date.  
BY PAT MOCHEL AND ADAM GROSSMAN

Entering The Drone Zone Augments the Fan Experience

Imagine being able to sit in the cockpit of a plane racing at high speeds through dangerous obstacles. While watching the Drone Racing League (DRL) does not fully simulate the experience of being a Top Gun pilot, it does enable its fans to see what it is like to be a drone pilot by using First Person View (FPV) technology

       What Makes Pogba, Ronaldo, and Messi $100 Million Men   BY ADAM GROSSMAN, ANDREW JACOBS, AND PAT MOCHEL     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      Soccer’s summer transfer window begins this weekend as the wealthiest clubs in European soccer will likely spend millions on top talent from around the world in the transfer market. The question then becomes how much do you pay? According to Rory Smith’s recent article in   The New York Times      entitled “Soccer’s Confounding Calculation: What’s a Player Worth?” there does not appear to be a good answer. More specifically, “This is also what lends the transfer market its veneer of chaos, the sense that even experts are grasping in the dark: each club and each individual acting according to a value system only they know, and having a willingness to change it from case to case.”  So why are soccer players so hard to value? To start, it is really difficult to determine an individual player’s contribution to winning. Dubbed the beautiful game, soccer is 22 athletes weaving across the pitch, each having a unique effect on the flow of the game. Additionally, soccer has few quantifiable stats over a season, with even the most elite strikers having under 100 shots per year and elite defenders tallying few recordable stats. Contrast this to a data heavy sport like baseball, blessed with mountains of data, with starters amassing over 500 plate appearances a season with easily quantifiable outcomes.  Even with these difficulties, individual player performance metrics are being developed and refined. Expected goals is a way to quantify a team’s ability to create quality chances, a topic near to the heart of both managers and fans. Additionally, Audi’s Player Index (API) has been utilized in the MLS to quantify and evaluate nearly every action a player takes on the field. By allocating positive or negative points for 88 possible action items, like a key pass or a missed penalty, the API attempts to quantify a player’s contribution to the team. Expected Goals and API certainly both have their limitations, but they are only the first steps when evaluating on field success.  If these player performance metrics were perfect, however, that would still not provide a team with a player’s full value. The foundation of Smith’s exploration of this topic centers on the belief that finding players that will help a team win more games means that these players will also help a team generate more money. The problem is that this belief is not correct. More specifically, winning is not the only way that teams generate money from players.  If we think of soccer players as more traditional assets that companies hold on their balance sheet, then we are more likely to be able to quantify their value. In purely economic terms, assets are primarily considered valuable for the cash flow they can deliver to their organization. Soccer players are potentially valuable assets that can help teams generate revenue during a season and / or can be sold to other teams to bring in revenue in one-time transactions. The way we can quantify the impact of player’s on-field contribution to a team is by determining what impact winning has on generating revenue for the organization. In particular, how much more money does a team make in ticket, media, sponsorship, merchandise, concessions, and parking sales when it wins. Once this is determined then we can look at a player’s contribution to winning (i.e. what percentage of a team’s likelihood to win is attributed to a player) and determine his economic value.  Perhaps just as important as an individual player’s on field contribution, however, is his / her off-field impact. More specifically, fans want to see star players and star players do not necessarily mean players that solely help their teams win. Paul Pogba’s record breaking transfer fee to Manchester United is a good example of why off-field impact matters. Before Pogba stepped on the field for the Red Devils, Adidas was able to activate a social media campaign with substantial results. “At around midnight on 7th August, Adidas’ official Twitter account ‘accidentally” leaked a music video featuring Pogba, clad head to toe in Manchester United gear…The 48-second music video features Pogba dancing alongside Stormzy as he raps a verse from his song, ‘Nigo Duppy’. Instantly catchy and shareable, the video had been viewed six million times on Twitter by the end of the day. To put that in perspective, Pogba’s six million views in a day dwarfs the 318,000 views that Granit Xhaka’s Arsenal announcement video received, and dominates the 278,000 achieved by Chelsea’s account as they unveiled N’Golo Kante.” Pogba’s star power translated into immediate success for both United and Adidas.  Pogba also shows how player valuations are highly context dependent and can vary widely by team. For starters, a value of a win varies drastically by team, especially in a sport that financially rewards positive performance as much as European soccer. Two additional league wins for Arsenal FC in 2016/2017 would have resulted in a champions league spot and a nice paycheck of $14 million. Contrast that to fellow London club West Ham where two additional wins would have moved them from 11th to 9th which would lead to no monetary reward. In addition, a player’s ability to command attention will be different on different teams. For example, seven out of the  top-ten selling jerseys in MLS  came from European players in 2016 that had previously played for long stretches on the continent. While the star power of someone like David Villa has faded in La Liga in Spain, these type of players do have the ability to generate significant revenue for teams in the MLS that is not dependent on how much or how well they play in the MLS.    Block Six Analytics Revenue Above Replacement (RAR) is designed specifically to examine how a player’s on-field and off-field performance helps a team generate top-line revenue growth. We first determine how much of a team’s revenue is generated by on-field and off-field performance. We then determine an athlete’s contribution to winning and his / her overall ability to engage with fans, media, and sponsors in ways that generate revenue for a team. Therefore, RAR calculates the revenue a player would generate given a specific team at a specific time using a comprehensive, data-driven, and context dependent starting point in evaluating players. Taking this approach enables us answer the question about how much a player is worth.   
BY ADAM GROSSMAN, ANDREW JACOBS, AND PAT MOCHEL

What Makes Pogba, Ronaldo, and Messi $100 Million Men

Soccer’s summer transfer window begins this weekend as the world’s wealthiest clubs in European soccer will likely spend millions on top talent from around the world in the transfer market. The question then becomes how much do you pay?

      From the Hardwood to the Boardroom  By Adam Grossman     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      It is no secret that  many athletes  that earn millions playing professional sports end up going into bankruptcy soon after their athletic careers are over. One of the most common ways athletes lose their fortunes is through poor investment decisions. In fact, there is no shortage of articles  highlighting  the “worst investments pro athletes ever made” on a variety of deals. In particular, athletes have lost a significant amount of money making bets on technology or working with financial services companies.    This is one reason that the recent announcement of the  Players Technology Summit  co-hosted by Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala along with Bloomberg Media is particularly interesting. Rather than running away from technology or investing in companies, athletes are running towards these opportunities. This technology summit will bring together NBA players for a networking event to “share secrets on how [NBA Players are] disrupting Silicon Valley.”  That the last phrase in the previous paragraph sounds like something you would hear from a venture capital (VC) fund, rather than an NBA player, is no accident. Many athletes have become much more savvy investors and function more like general partners at venture capital firms. Iguodala states that athletes can take advantage of their wealth and fame to be in a  position , "to learn from some of the best in the tech and venture capital business and put those learnings to work."  Proactively seeking out advice from industry leaders is a significant change in wealth management strategy. In exchange, investors from Silicon Valley gain valuable insights into the rapidly growing sports technology space. Image tracking, geo-location, and wearable technologies are some of the areas that are attracting significant VC dollars. Gaining insight from the athletes who use these technologies at the highest level will better enable these funds to identify promising companies for investment.     These interactions have been an impetus for athletes to start their own VC funds. More specifically, athletes can evaluate early-stage investments for potential growth and make investments in exchange for equity in those companies. In particular, athletes can leverage their own personal experience on and off the court to help find the companies that can “disrupt”, or fundamentally change, entire industries. In fact,  current and former NBA players  such as Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Jamal Mashburn have started their own VC funds with industry veterans to invest their personal and outside capital.  It is not clear that NBA players are going to receive the outsized investment returns that VC funds strive to achieve by making bets on growth companies. However, the Players Technology Summit puts the players in a better position off the court to be successful in managing their personal wealth earned on the court. 
BY ADAM GROSSMAN

From the Hardwood to the Boardroom

It is no secret that many athletes that earn millions playing professional sports end up going into bankruptcy soon after their athletic careers are over. One of the most common ways athletes lose their fortunes is through poor investment decisions. In fact, there is no shortage of articles highlighting the “worst investments pro athletes ever made” on a variety of deals. This is one reason that the recent announcement of the Players Technology Summit co-hosted by Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala along with Bloomberg Media is particularly interesting. Rather than running away from technology or investing in companies, athletes are running towards these opportunities. 

      From Education to Entertainment     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      By Andrew Jacobs  Erin Hills in Wisconsin is hosting golf’s U.S. Open Championship for the first time. The new venue, however, is only one change for one of the country’s oldest tournaments.  As part of its live coverage, FOX Sports will implement an array of technological tools to enhance their golf broadcast including augmented reality course overviews, drone flyovers, and shot tracing technology at all 18 tee boxes. Golf’s TopTracer technology and other similar technology offerings allow fans to see the exact flight pattern of the ball, as well as a golfer’s carry and apex of their swing. These new technologies will enable viewers to see data analytics on everything from drive apex to spin rate, throughout FOX’s 45 hours of coverage.  The US Open highlights a growing trend in the sports industry. Today, the numbers are not purely educational. Data  is  entertainment.  More specifically, television networks are using data because fans want to see the numbers to better enjoy watching sports. “The information is important and informative to heighten the viewing experience,” noted FOX senior vice president of graphic technology Zac Fields in an interview with  Geek Wire.  “We view it as a necessity much like the yellow line in football.”    “Strokes gained” is another good example of the analytics viewers will likely see during this weekend’s broadcast. First introduced by Mark Broadie of Columbia University, strokes gained compares a player’s performance in one aspect of the game, such as putting or driving, compared to the field average. Strokes gained has been used for several years by some of the game’s best but it has recently gained traction in the public discourse of fans and sports media. For example, fans can now tangibly see how Dustin Johnson’s long driving ability impacts his score as compared to other golfers’ in the field.  Across all sports, fans have shown an insatiable appetite for more and more stats and information about their favorite teams and players. MLB’s Statcast, a revolutionary tool utilized to analyze movements of both players and the baseball, has made nearly every aspect of the game quantifiable. First implemented into every stadium in 2015, Statcast data has been wholly available to fans for the first time this season and has been   met with great enthusiasm. Walk into a sports bar and you will hear chatter of Aaron Judge’s latest launch angle or Andrew McCutchen’s great outfield speed. Similar advanced metrics, like baseball’s Wins Above Replacement (WAR) or basketball’s offensive efficiency, have likewise been transformed from purely front office tools into media and fan base discussion points.    As fans appetite for data grows, opportunities exist for significant growth for technology, analytics, and media companies within the sports industry. First, opportunities exist for new and innovative ways to track movement and performance across all sports, not only for use by talent evaluators but also as entertainment for fans. Additionally, sports media companies looking to differentiate themselves in an increasingly crowded marketplace can leverage premium data and technologies to offer unique and valuable offerings for fans. For years, television networks have been worried that providing analytics would drive viewers away from game broadcasts. Now data is at the forefront of how networks want to engage fans with their favorite sports, teams, and players.
BY ADAM GROSSMAN AND ANDREW JACOBS

From Education to Entertainment

Erin Hills in Wisconsin is hosting golf’s U.S. Open Championship for the first time. The new venue, however, is only one change for one of the country’s oldest tournaments.  As part of its live coverage, FOX Sports will implement an array of technological tools to enhance their golf broadcast including augmented reality course overviews, drone flyovers, and shot tracing technology at all 18 tee boxes.