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.

       The Mind Matters In Warriors Success      

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      By Adam Grossman  Last night’s victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers provided the Golden State Warriors its second title in three years and capped off one of the most dominant three-year runs by any team in NBA history. One of the reasons this historic stretch is so remarkable is that the Warriors lineup is relatively ordinary from a physical perspective. Of the team’s vaunted “Lineup of Death,” a group known for dominating the competition for long stretches at a time, only Kevin Durant has physical skills that would be considered extraordinary in the NBA. In fact, this lineup is one of the smallest units in stature that played a significant number of minutes throughout the season. For instance, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green were specifically not taken earlier in their respective NBA drafts because many teams believed their physical limitations would prohibit them from becoming star players.     Rather than relying on physical ability, the Warriors have built their team around a motion based offense that hinges on players consistently making the decision that will maximize the team’s expected points for that particular possession. More specifically, the team’s players are asked to survey the court and make decisions quickly to generate open shots. It is the team’s mental strength, particularly focused on cognitive executive function, that enables the team to gain a competitive advantage. In fact, Curry has credited his  “brain training”  as one of the key factors of his on-court success.  Intelligence and decision-making testing have been a component of player evaluation for years. The most well-known example of this occurs prior to the NFL Draft when players take the Wonderlic Test. One of the more surprising findings is that Peyton Manning had a lower score than his brother Eli on the Wonderlic. One of the shortcomings of the Wonderlic, and other intelligence test such as IQ tests, is that they are testing a dependent variable. Essentially these tests measure if people have high levels of intelligence but not why and how they have these high levels of intelligence.  This is not the fault of the tests themselves. Until very recently, humans had very little understanding of how the brain works on a physiological level. At a basic level, the brain has cells called neurons that produce neurotransmitters that are sent across pathways to other neurons throughout the brain to stimulate activity. The stronger the pathways are, the more likely someone will learn a concept. The human mind does not need lines of code to work. It continually adapts as it learns by processing and adapting to new information on its own. Instead of cooking by following a recipe, the brain acts like a master chef that can make changes to a dish by tasting the dish as he / she cooks a meal.    This makes the rise of machine learning in technology particularly interesting. In the past, computer programmers would have to write thousands of lines of code telling a computer exactly what to do and how to execute a particular.  If a line of code contained even the smallest of errors, then the machine would not be able to complete its task. By using neural networks, engineers are enabling machines to be more like master chefs rather than cooks that follow recipes.  However, that is essentially the limit of understanding of how the brain works. In  Possessing Genius: The Bizarre Odyssey of Einstein's Brain   many scientist examined Albert Einstein’s brain posthumously and had tremendous difficulty finding any structural differences between the famous scientist’s mind and the normal person’s mind. Similarly, it is very difficult to understand how a machine learning platform makes changes to its neural network to achieve a task of identifying a logo during games. Essentially, the only way to impact the internal neural network is to change the external training stimuli and data sets. We do not really know how and why a machine makes the adjustments in its internal nodes to more accurately classify objects or identify faces.  New scientific advances may finally shed more light on how the brain and intelligence work. Recently, researchers have found a mutation in a gene in mice that controls communication between neurons in the brain. This mutation makes these mice  “savants of the rodent world”  and gives them superior intellectual ability. Other  scientists  have found 40 genes linked to intelligence showing that some of “your smarts are in your DNA”. We are closer than ever to finding out what physiological elements can lead to intelligence. From a sports perspective, these insights can eventually help teams better determine which players have the cognitive skills to perform at the highest mental levels during games. Rather than being an anomaly, teams could identify and assemble players with cognitive gifts, similar to how the 2016-17 Warriors did.  Human beings have been able to leverage our brain power to achieve extraordinary accomplishments even if we do not exactly how the mind works. Imagine what we could achieve we actually knew how intelligence worked on a genetic or cellular level. Drafting and signing players for the next NBA champion would just be the start.
BY ADAM GROSSMAN

The Mind Matters In Warriors Success

Last night’s victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers provided the Golden State Warriors its second title in three years and capped off one of the most dominant three-year runs by any team in NBA history. One of the reasons this historic stretch is so remarkable is that the Warriors lineup is relatively ordinary from a physical perspective. Of the team’s vaunted “Lineup of Death,” a group known for dominating the competition for long stretches at a time, only Kevin Durant has physical skills that would be considered extraordinary in the NBA.

       From Fast To Sustainable Growth Via Sports      

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      By Adam Grossman  Frisco, Texas was the  second  fastest growing city in the United States in 2016. Over the past 20 years, the city has  grown  from 5,000 people in 1987 to over 163,000 in 2016. The rapid growth is in part due to large sports venue investments made via public / private partnerships the city has made with the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Stars, FC Dallas and the Frisco RoughRiders (minor league baseball team) that make up the city’s  $5 billion mile .  However, Frisco appears to be shifting to a different type of investment when it comes to sports. Last week, Stadia Ventures brought its most recent cohort from its accelerator programs to explore the opportunities available for sports startups in Frisco. Hosted by LaunchPad City, which works with startups and has been in talks to bring a branch of Stadia Ventures to town, new companies from across the country were able to build relationships with leading sports executives throughout Frisco.  Building innovation hubs is not novel practice for cities or states looking to attract new businesses and top talent. San Francisco, Boston, New York City, and Chicago are among the many cities that have made significant investments in building the infrastructure for startups to thrive. In addition, many cities, states, and countries have made similar public / private investments in building facilities that Frisco has, often achieving less success, as we note in our book   The Sports Strategist: Developing leaders for a High-Performance Industry.    What is particularly interesting about this approach is that Frisco is making an investment in ways that will continue differentiate the city from other municipalities. Rather than focusing on just innovation, Frisco can narrow its focus to become the sports entrepreneurship capital. Given that sports is a  $57+ billion  year industry, there are a number of young companies entering the space and looking for homes for their businesses. It is one reason that Blue Star Sports, a leading provider of sports management software and payment solutions, which is in part financed by the Cowboys, has acquired  12+ companies  and has already moved some of them to Frisco.  In addition, Frisco can better monetize its own sports investments. One of the criticisms of public / private ventures involving sports is that they do not provide a significant enough ROI to the public. In particular, they do not directly provide new job growth politicians and citizens expected when the investments are made. Frisco may not have these problems to this extent or at all. Having a sports innovation hub means that teams in area have access to the exact type of innovative startups that will facilitate their own growth nearby. The startups have access to new clients that can provide the foundation for their growth, which will ultimately enable them to hire more people from the Frisco area. This ecosystem likely provides the best opportunity for the city to maximize its ROI from sports investments.  Frisco still has a long way to go to become the center of sports entrepreneurship. Hosting Stadia Ventures as the first step to building on its sports public / private partnerships puts Frisco in a good position to continue to be one of America’s fastest growing cities.        
BY ADAM GROSSMAN

From Fast To Sustainable Growth Via Sports

Frisco, Texas was the second fastest growing city in the United States in 2016. Over the past 20 years, the city has grown from 5,000 people in 1987 to over 163,000 in 2016. The rapid growth is in part due to large sports venue investments made via public / private partnerships the city has made with the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Stars, FC Dallas and the Frisco RoughRiders (minor league baseball team) that make up the city’s $5 billion mile.

       Does Fame Turn Into Fortune?      

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      By Adam Grossman  ESPN has  released  its World Fame 100 ratings to answer the question: “Who are the most famous athletes on the planet?” Through a formula developed largely by ESPN’s Director of Analytics Ben Alamar, the World Fame 100 examines endorsements, social media following, and Google search results to create a 1 to 100 rankings for players. Cristiano Ronaldo and LeBron James were the “winners” securing the first and second spots on the list, respectively.  B6A has examined a similar question using our Revenue Above Replacement (RAR) product offering. Rather than asking who the most famous athletes in sports are, however, we ask who is the most valuable player within each sport (i.e. looking at MLB players as compared to other MLB players rather than looking at MLB players versus NBA players).  On the surface, this could appear to be to a distinction without a difference.  More specifically, being famous often translates to being highly valued and being well compensated for that value. In fact, our Revenue Above Replacement model does factor in social media audience and endorsements into our calculation of off-field value in a comparable way to how the World Fame 100 utilizes it in its formula.  This, however, is the end of the similarities between the two approaches. In particular, the World Fame 100 fails to account for any type of “On-Field” value. More specifically, “Salary is not used as a factor because of differences among sports. For example, players in a league with a salary cap would be at an unfair disadvantage when measured against players in uncapped league.” There are several issues with this assertion. First, even leagues without salary caps have ways of restricting salary. For example, UEFA has introduced  Financial Fair Play  rules to make sure that teams cannot spend money on players’ salaries without being able to “prove they have paid the bills” (i.e. teams cannot consistently lose money even if owners are willing to pay for these losses). Alamar and ESPN could also introduce controls that are typically included in other studies that account for differences in payroll. For example, Alamar could compare athletes who earn similar salaries or make adjustments based on how a player's salary compares to that of the average player in the sport.  Second, if you are not using salary then how would this formula account for the fame generated by a player’s “On-Field” performance? In particular, what a player does on the field is what makes him famous in the first place. Salary could actually be a good indicator of performance. Generally, higher paid players are typically (but certainly not always) higher performing players. Using salary as a proxy performance metric and then doing some comparison to social media, endorsements, and search history would serve to enhance the model. What makes this omission particularly perplexing is that the list specifically does not include retired athletes, which should serveto further enhance the value of on-field performance. Therefore, it appears Alamar and ESPN acknowledge that the on-field considerations are important without examining this as a factor in the analysis.    B6A’s RAR model examines how a player’s on-field and off-field performance generates top-line revenue growth for his / her team / league. One of the reasons we developed our RAR model is that we did not think that players were being fairly compensated for their off-field “fame”. More specifically, players’ drive value to teams through their ability to engage with fans, media, and sponsors. Highly visible athletes and star power often does ultimately lead to revenue generation for teams. However, we recognize that on-field performance needs to be properly evaluated and that it impacts off-field performance, particularly when it comes to social media and endorsements. That is why our RAR model does examine a player’s ability and salary in relation to their off-field performance.  While we appreciate ESPN’s objective in compiling this list, we do not agree that it effectively answers the question of who is the most famous athlete.  It is interesting and important to create a framework to evaluate star power across different sports. This is particularly important when it comes to endorsements and corporate partnerships with athletes. While fame can lead to fortune, however, it is critical to understand why fame is created in the first place. By failing to look more in-depth at on-field performance, however, ESPN does not provide the best answer to its own question.
BY ADAM GROSSMAN

Does Fame Turn Into Fortune?

ESPN has released its World Fame 100 ratings to answer the question: “Who are the most famous athletes on the planet?” Through a formula developed largely by ESPN’s Director of Analytics Ben Alamar, the World Fame 100 examines endorsements, social media following, and Google search results to create a 1 to 100 rankings for players. Cristiano Ronaldo and LeBron James were the “winners” securing the first and second spots on the list, respectively.

       Using Numbers As The Language of Sports Sponsorship      

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      By Adam Grossman  In a recent  conversation  with  RadioLab  co-hots Robert Krulwich, astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson discussed how he broke down many challenging concepts in his new book   Astrophysics for People in a Hurry  . While understanding dark matter, quantum gravity, and electromagnetism may not happen “in a hurry” for most people, Tyson shares a critical insight that is potentially more digestible. He states how humans did not evolve to comprehend much of how the world works particularly on the macroscopic scale of the galaxy or the microscopic scale of subatomic particles. Humans evolved to comprehend things they can observe with their five senses. More bluntly, much of human history has been focused on survival rather than  worrying  about the cosmos.    Tyson explains that math is the language that allows us to explore and understand, which is the reason we use mathematical theories and models is to explain reality. By using the universal language of mathematics, scientists from across the globe can and do share insights that lead to discoveries about the fundamentals of nature. We can than test empirically whether theories we develop actually do “model” or explain reality using data generated from experiments.  Without math and the open sharing of ideas, humans would have a much more challenging time understanding how the world really works.  What does this have to do with sports sponsorship? It is not that sports sponsorship is as complex astrophysics (thankfully). However, the complexity of sports sponsorship is growing at a rapid rate. In particular, new technologies are developing so quickly that it is difficult for sports industry professionals to keep track. This includes developments in virtual reality, augmented reality, geo-fencing, iBeacon technology, and new social platforms, among many others. At the same time, more traditional elements such as in-arena signage, television commercials, digital banner ads, intellectual property rights, and events remain crucial parts of most integrated marketing packages.  The concepts of applying math, facilitating dialogue through transparency, and tracking allowed Tyson to better describe and more effectively facilitate understanding of astrophysics and can be applied to the sports industry. In particular, developing models to predict the outcomes of sports sponsorship spend should be an integral part of a partnership analysis. The best way to build these models is to share exactly how sponsorships are measured and evaluated between buyers and sellers of corporate partnerships. This enables both sides to have shared language using data and formulate insights to create better, more comprehensive models. By having a digital platform that can track results throughout the course of season, buyers and sellers of sports sponsorship can measure whether predicted outcomes reflect the actual results. More importantly, adjustments can then be made to the sponsorship to ensure that the most value is being generated in a relationship.  In an increasingly complex sports sponsorship environment, data driven decision making can help industry professionals understand the value of their partnerships in a hurry. Applying principles of rocket science and astrophysics to the data science of sports should help make that happen.
BY ADAM GROSSMAN

Using Numbers As The Language of Sports Sponsorship

In a recent conversation with RadioLab co-hots Robert Krulwich, astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson discussed how he broke down many challenging concepts in his new book Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. While understanding dark matter, quantum gravity, and electromagnetism may not happen “in a hurry” for most people, Tyson shares a critical insight that is potentially more digestible.

       How Collaboration Leads To Innovation      

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      By Adam Grossman  Last week, FC Barcelona signed a “ collaboration agreement ” with Georgetown University to “explore possible avenues of cooperation within the framework of the Barça Innovation Hub.” Barcelona’s decision to explore this partnership provides an interesting new dynamic to a sports industry focused on innovation.  More specifically, teams in the United States including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas Cowboys, and Minnesota Vikings have established sports accelerators to spur innovation from startup companies. Barcelona, however, is one of the first teams to establish an innovation presence outside of its homemarket. In addition, the team decided to focus on an academic rather than commercial relationship to establish this presence.  The strategy behind establishing an innovation presence is clear. Barcelona has specifically been looking to grow its fan base and revenues in the United States. The team already has an  office  in New York City, has received approval for an expansion team in the National Women’s Soccer League for the 2018 season, and has developed six soccer academies in the U.S. Its new relationship with Georgetown will also further increase the visibility of its International Champions Cup match versus Manchester United in July in Washington D.C., where Georgetown is located.  The collaboration through Georgetown and its master's in Sports Industry Management program is potentially more interesting. Students in Masters of Sports Administration (MSA) programs are becoming increasingly interested in entrepreneurship. In particular, innovation in technology, including machine learning, artificial intelligence, virtual / augmented reality, wearable devices, and analytics provide many exciting opportunities for new companies. This is one reason I developed the “Entrepreneurship In Sports” class for  Northwestern University ; American University has a similar course.  At the same time, starting a company has significant risk. Some of the challenges include finding clients, developing products, securing financing, and hiring talent (among the many challenges). For many students in MSA programs, these hurdles make pursuing a new venture extremely difficult. Even the prospect of entering an accelerator program, where young companies exchange equity in exchange for financial capital and mentorship, does not always mitigate the opportunity cost of finding a more stable job. This means that teams could miss out on the benefits from the new products and services developed by emerging companies.  Barcelona’s relationship with Georgetown reduces this risk because it enables students to develop new ventures through its innovation while still in school. Because most MSA programs operate in a school of professional / continuing studies, students can keep their current jobs while pursuing new ventures. Students then have access to Barça Innovation Hub resources to help deal with the challenges of starting a company and potentially can turn one of the biggest sports organization into one of its first clients. In turn, the club is able  to  “innovate, generate, attract, manage and share knowledge.”  More specifically, Barcelona can incubate new ventures started by future industry leaders at a top MSA program and make investments in the most promising companies without having to commit financial capital.  Win-win is an overused cliché, particularly when applying it to a relationship in the sports industry. The collaboration between Barcelona and Georgetown, however, does perfectly represent a relationship in which both sides should generate significant value.
BY ADAM GROSSMAN

How Collaboration Leads To Innovation

Last week, FC Barcelona signed a “collaboration agreement” with Georgetown University to “explore possible avenues of cooperation within the framework of the Barça Innovation Hub.” Barcelona’s decision to explore this partnership provides an interesting new dynamic to a sports industry focused on innovation.

      Making the Most of Media Rights     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      By Ross Chumsky and Adam Grossman  Over-the-top distribution of sports content has dominated industry news over the past few weeks.  Amazon’s new NFL deal to stream Thursday Night Football,  Twitter’s new agreements  to stream live content from various leagues, and  ESPN ’s decision to lay off approximately 100 employees all have arguably been focused on the changing consumption patterns of sports fans.  The reason that distribution channels, rather than the sports content itself, have taken center stage is that most sports leagues already have long-term media rights deals in place in traditional channels.  For example, the NFL, NBA, and NHL all have television deals that extend into the 2020s.  There is one significant exception to this situation.  Last summer, the sports media agency, WME-IMG, purchased the UFC and its parent company Zuffa, LLC. for approximately $4 billion, the largest ever figure for the sale of a major sports franchise, by a significant margin (about $2 billion).  Much of the impetus for WME-IMGs massive investment stemmed from their expectation that they will be able to broaden the scope the UFCs media rights, both domestically and abroad.  With media rights fees skyrocketing throughout the sports world, WME-IMG is looking for the UFC to be the latest sports franchise to capitalize on this trend.  The UFC current media rights deal, signed in 2011 and expiring in 2018, has Fox Sports paying the UFC an annual average of $115 million. Since the deal was signed, the UFC has grown significantly in popularity.  In addition, the UFC “[is] appealing to media companies looking to grow their audience with the UFC’s fans, who are coveted by all networks because of their youth and passion.”  Prior to the UFC-Fox Sports deal’s 2018 expiration, Fox has an exclusive window, beginning in late 2017, for negotiation of a new deal.  In its next media rights deal, WME-IMG  reportedly  intends to set the price point at $450 million per year for ten years. While the $450 million per year figure would represent a 219% overall increase in annual media rights fees, it is below MLB’s current media rights deals with ESPN ($700 million annually) and Turner Sports/Fox ($850 million annually combined).  With more and more people eschewing traditional television in favor of digital streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, media companies are searching for unique content to attract viewership and buck this trend. Live sports content continues to draw large viewership numbers facilitated the recent increase in sports media rights fees. WME-IMG is in a prime spot to negotiate a higher fee price because media rights for other major sports leagues being under contract and unavailable for the foreseeable future. Couple the increase in sports media rights fees of late with the UFCs building popularity, and the result is enviable negotiation leverage for WME-IMG. 
BY ROSS CHUMSKY AND ADAM GROSSMAN

Making the Most of Media Rights

Over-the-top distribution of sports content has dominated industry news over the past few weeks.  Amazon’s new NFL deal to stream Thursday Night Football, Twitter’s new agreements to stream live content from various leagues, and ESPN’s decision to lay off approximately 100 employees all have arguably been focused on the changing consumption patterns of sports fans.