Technology and the Needs of Emerging Sports

Polaris Sports

Technology is a major disruptor in sports today. There is not an aspect of the industry that it has not touched. The way that sports are played, viewed, broadcast, monetized, and regulated are all being revolutionized by the deployment of technological innovations.

Technology also drives the development of new or emerging sports. The growth of esports from a niche subculture into a $1 billion (and growing) global industry is the most obvious example, but there are certainly others. Other perfect example is drone racing, which in the last few years has grown from a backyard hobby to a sport with international leagues, professional competitions, and a solid fan base.

Technology alone, however, is not enough to ensure sustained commercial success for any sport, and especially for new sports. To succeed, emerging sports must meet several key challenges: creating sound and appropriate legal and business structures, protecting and exploiting intellectual property, managing media and broadcast distribution, and generating revenue—all while acknowledging the sport’s cultural roots. Without these solid underpinnings, any emerging sport or league, whether technology focused or not, faces major challenges.

Business and legal structures: No single business and legal structure can guarantee success . Some leagues follow a single-entity model like Major League Soccer, while others are franchise-based, like the American NBA and NFL. The most appropriate structure should make sense for all stakeholders—not only at inception, but also as a sport matures. Legal considerations include investment structures, tax issues, and a centralized infrastructure. As they move from the amateur to the professional realm, emerging leagues may also have to consider basics like formalizing a rule book, code of conduct, and organizational leadership.

IP assets: Developing league and team intellectual property, including trademarks, negotiating licensing relationships, and protecting and monetizing intellectual property is essential for new and emerging sports. They must also consider copyright issues related to logos, publications, slogans, photographs, and video.

Media and broadcast distribution: Distribution of content, whether through broadcast, cable or digital platforms, is critical for emerging sports. New sports may have difficulty selling their television rights, and may have to consider digital strategies for visibility. Lower-profile sports might opt for streaming their contests, and owning and producing their own events. Gaining visibility through a time buy on a broadcast or cable channel or adopting an over-the-top digital strategy are also options.

Generating revenue: Emerging sports face the same challenge as all sports: How to generate revenue. But for emerging sports, gaining enough traction with fans and sponsors to jump-start revenue streams can be a challenge. As those sports mature, they also often grapple with the tension between revenue generation—and the influx of fans, money, events, and structure that go with those efforts—and athletes and fans who want to maintain the authenticity of a sport and its culture.

Source: SportTechie

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