Sports Tech in 2017: A Year-in-Review

From Venture Capital investment to streaming services to a host of big name entries into the Sports Tech world, 2017 was a landmark year for our industry. We thought it would be fun to take a look back at 3 of the most significant trends in Sports Tech over the past year.

So without further ado…

  • VCs Jump into Sports Tech – Technology has disrupted practically every industry on earth, so why should sports be any different? Maybe that’s why over $3B has been invested in Sports Tech startups since 2015. This past year saw a continued wave of excitement, as funds like Sapphire Ventures – the corporate venture arm of SAP – raised a $100MM investment vehicle dedicated to seeding and early-stage financing of Sorts Tech startups. Sapphire will follow the likes of big name players like Intel Capital, which this November announced an early-stage, $1.9 million stake in ScoreStream, a crowdsourcing platform to engage fans in high school sports. It seems that VCs of all stripes are eager to get a foot in the Sports Tech door… expect this trend to continue into 2018 and beyond.
  • Streaming Goes Mainstream – Let it be known that 2017 is officially the year that sports streaming finally went mainstream. Networks like ESPN and Fox Sports stream live games, while online services like Hulu feature NCAA live-streaming. And even social media is getting in on the act, with Twitter featuring WNBA and Arena Football games, and Facebook streaming college basketball games via their partnership with online platform Stadium. Not to be outdone, Major League Baseball also cut streaming deals with both Twitter and Facebook.2017 also saw record numbers of ‘cord-cutters’ (folks who have given up on traditional cable), and as a result, streaming services like DirecTV Now – which launched last year – are picking up the slack. DTV Now reached 1 million subscribers in 2017, while other services like PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV are also gaining momentum. No doubt, sports streaming will continue to heat up in 2018, as NFL games are expected to be streamed on smart phones as early as next year, thanks to the massive Verizon deal struck earlier this month. In case you haven’t heard, the NFL and Verizon announced the renewal of their 2013 deal, except with one important caveat: the latest contract allows other wireless carriers to stream NFL games. In addition to the NFL app, Verizon plans to stream games on its Yahoo and go90 apps, but now other services can now stream NFL games on their own devices, something they couldn’t under the terms of the previous Verizon-NFL deal.
  • Big Names Make Some Big-Time Moves – What do Disney, Intel and Amazon all have in common? They each made a huge move into Sports Tech in 2017. In August, Disney increased its stake in MLB Advanced Media subsidiary, BAMTech, which serves as a base for online services including WatchESPN, WWE Network, HBO Go, and others. Disney’s increased stake in the company will likely lead to a boost in its overall streaming services. Meanwhile, Intel deepened its Sports Tech penetration with a Series A Round in ScoreStream, a social media platform which crowd-sources local sports scores. The $3.7MM Series A puts ScoreStream’s total fundraise to-date at $6.8MM. And last but certainly not least, 2017 saw Amazon picking up the rights to Thursday Night Football, in addition to men’s tennis and pro beach volleyball. That comes on top of its recent announcement that the company plans to partner with the NFL to power Next Gen Stats. Hey, Amazon is taking over the rest of the world, so why not Sports Tech too?

RockDaisy’s Big Year

There’s a lot to get excited about in the Sports Tech Universe as we enter 2018, and RockDaisy is proud to be an expanding star in that Universe. 2017 was a big year for us: We entered our 3rd year in existence, and in the process partnered with our 7th NFL team to centralize and organize their sports science data. We’re now working with teams in 3 of the 4 major sports leagues (NFL, NHL, NBA) helping cover their sports science, player contracts, and player and team performance, in addition to several non-sports organizations (NYPD, National Geographic). We’re also proud to announce our recent graduation from the prestigious Stadia Sports Tech Accelerator Program. Only 5 startups were accepted, out of over 250 that applied. We learned a great deal, made some extraordinary connections, and we’re excited about putting our Stadia knowledge and network to use in the years to come.

Oh… and 1 more thing – 2017 also saw the introduction of this very blog you’re reading, as well as our LinkedIn page! Speaking of which, feel free to click the link at the bottom and give us a Follow on LinkedIn (we’re allowed 1 shameless plug per year).

2018 and Beyond

As the year comes to a close, we’re grateful for all that we’ve accomplished, and eager to face the challenges and opportunities awaiting us in the year ahead. 2017 was a fun-filled and action-packed year, and here’s hoping for an equally productive 2018 and beyond.

Have a happy and healthy New Year, everyone.

– Chris & Elvis

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