SportsTech & Media: the 2019 Review & 2020 Predictions (Part 2)

As we glide into a new decade, we are really excited to present Part 2 of our 2019 Review and 2020 Predictions for Sports Media & Tech.

The Review features kind contributions from a wide range of sports industry experts and big-wigs, including their podcast, reading and film recommendations to keep you warm during the early year wintry evenings and commutes!

If you missed Part 1 of the Review, please do check it out here.

Nick German, Producer, Sky Sports Golf

1. Most significant deal / development in sportstech or media during 2019.

At The Open in 2019, Sky Sports debuted Sky Scope: a 3d Swing analysis tool using mobile volumetric capture which created lifelike digital holographic replicas that were then transported into the Sky Zone studio using NCAM technology. These provided a never before seen 360 degree view of the swings of some of the world’s best players.

2. Favourite sports podcast / book / documentary / film in 2019.

Podcast: Quickly Kevin - I came late to this so I’m playing catch-up; but it’s a cracking ramble through some hilarious memories and anecdotes of 90’s football - a truly pivotal decade in the British game.

Book: “The Judge: More Than Just a Game”. Brilliant, brutal and touching autobiography of my cricketing hero Robin Smith. (Honourable mention for 2018’s “Tiger Woods” which I finally got round to reading this year.)

Documentary: The new Maradona documentary is as excellent as expected given the pedigree of its director and the volatile life of its subject. However, despite some of its perhaps overly contrived and gimmicky imagery, “The Edge” (Barney Douglas), which chronicles the story of England’s rise to number one in the test cricket rankings and subsequent ignominious fall, wins this for me. Largely for its final act which explores, reveals and then handles brilliantly, the mental turmoil that was being suffered by members of the squad.

Film: A tie between High Flying Bird (Steven Soderbergh) and Fighting with My Family (Stephen Merchant). The former, shot on an iPhone, is loosely a film about basketball but is less concerned with the on court action, choosing instead to examine the game behind the game. The latter is a straight-up, heart-warming, feel-good blend of fiction and fact (appropriate for a film about wrestling) which happens to be pretty funny too.

3. Prediction for the standout breakthrough tech or media development during 2020.

This isn’t really my area of expertise by any means but I feel that:

(i) The roll out of low latency 5G, as well as playing a big part in the growth and development of VR and AR experiences, will have a massive impact on remote production too.

(ii) Disney’s venture into streaming services will have a big impact on sports rights volatility.

(iii) We’ll see an upturn in the number of bigger budget and larger scope “Netflix-style” documentaries being produced by some of the major players in the UK. Expect a particularly good Tiger Woods Masters documentary in April…..!

Sarah Whyman, Associate, Mills & Reeve and women’s sport specialist

2019 has been a fantastic year for women’s sport, so this is what I’ve chosen to focus my predictions on. I predict that in 2020 women’s sport will continue to grow in its popularity, to extend the reach of its fan base even further.

1. Most significant deal / development in sportstech or media during 2019.

Women’s football in particular has had a fantastic year and FIFA estimated the 2019 Women’s World Cup global audience exceeded 1 billion. So for me this has been the most significant development in media in 2019, as we saw the commercial value of the women’s game sky rocket! Back in April, we saw Boots sign a three-year deal to sponsor the women’s national football teams of every country in the UK and Ireland, the first time that any brand or retailer has sponsored all five FA women’s national teams.

On the Sportstech front, we also saw some really interesting technology being used during the women’s World Cup competition, including a tablet with selected feeds for the FIFA Medical doctor to review injuries.

2. Favourite sports podcast / book / documentary / film in 2019.

I’ve been really enjoying Women In Sport’s newly launched podcast, which covers issues and topics facing women and girls in the sports sector in the UK. I also thought Andy Murray: Resurfacing was a fantastic documentary.

3. Prediction for the standout breakthrough tech or media development during 2020.

I think fan engagement is going to be even bigger next year in lots of different women’s sports, but I think particularly in football, hockey and netball. We saw this at the Women’s World Cup this year with the FIFA Fan Experience. This will continue to grow in women’s sport as its audience viewing figures rise and we will see an increase in the technologies used to enhance the fan match day experience, as well as for fans watching from home. As FIFA’s Chief Women’s Football Officer, Sarai Bareman, recently said: “Women’s football is about so much more than what happens on the pitch.

Dan McLaren, Head of Digital, SQN and podcast host of “Tables Turned”

1. Most significant deal / development in sportstech or media during 2019.

The two big moves in media that come to mind are DAZN's big play in boxing and included in that is the KSI v Logan Paul II fight that was a bold move and one that could pay off in the drive for new subscribers. Also the recent long-anticipated showing of Premier League football. It will be interesting to see how Sky and BT react to the innovations the streaming giant has incorporated.

2. Favourite sports podcast / book / documentary / film in 2019.

Book: Sped my way through Nike co-founder Phil Knight's Shoe Dog book, an excellent read that concentrates on the early stages of Nike climb to world dominance.

Podcast: The F1: Beyond The Grid podcast is a regular on my weekly listen list, always well-presented and has interesting guests (I don't listen to many sports pods!).

Documentary: possibly not sports depending on your outlook, would be the League of Legends one on Netflix - a great insight into how Riot have built up the esports scene over the last 10 years.

3. Prediction for the standout breakthrough tech or media development during 2020.

One to keep an eye out for next year is the VR/broadcast development by esports organisation WEAVR. After being awarded the government 'audience of the future' funding in January 2019 they have started to showcase their beta version. This tech has the potential to cross into traditional sport too and have a great impact on the fan broadcast experience.

Sam Barton, Co-Founder of LSTN (the London Sports Tech Network)

1. Most significant deal / development in sportstech or media during 2019.

I have two offerings here, which both feature Twitch. The first was the move by popular Fortnite gamer/ influencer Richard Bevins (AKA “Ninja”) from Twitch to Microsoft owned streaming platform Mixer and the second was a home grown one for me, the Australian National Basketball League inking a two year deal to stream live games via Twitch.

2. Favourite sports podcast / book / documentary / film in 2019.

Book: favourite read is "Shoe Dog" by Nike founder Phil Knight.

Podcast: favourite would have to be “The Sterling Affairs” based on the fall from grace by former LA Clippers owner, Donald Sterling.

Documentary: favourite documentary series remains the ESPN 30 for 30 series, particularly "The Two Escobars" and “Broke”.

3. Prediction for the standout breakthrough tech or media development during 2020.

Fan engagement through athlete-led interaction and the rise of digital venues offering Esports and traditional sports to viewers looking for an experience away from their lounge rooms.

Thomas Alomes, Director, Vumero Ltd, and Head of EMEA, Vumero Institute

1. Most significant deal / development in sportstech or media during 2019.

The Perform split from DAZN and subsequent merger with STATS to create Stats Perform. That deal encapsulated two of the biggest developments in sportstech and media in 2019:

(i) Proliferation of legalised sports betting in the US and its accompanying thirst for advanced data and analytics.

(ii) OTT and D2C streaming options for sports coverage (e.g. DAZN gobbling up rights and even turning to content creation with KSI and Logan Paul 2; Amazon Prime Premier League streaming). Also part of the broader changes which saw the “streaming wars” pick up pace with the likes of Disney+ entering the market.

2. Favourite sports podcast / book / documentary / film in 2019.

For podcasts it’s the launch of Sports Tech Feed - The Global Sports Technology Podcast. Obviously I'm incredibly biased as the host of the show, but it's been really enjoyable to pick the brains of some of the best in the industry and I think it translates really well into insights for our listeners.

3. Prediction for the standout breakthrough tech or media development during 2020.

I would like to say the realisation of 5G to unleash some pretty cool fan engagement activations (e.g. real-time, in-game AR overlays). Despite the fanfare I don't think 5G will get to that stage in the next 12 months. The cost and issues with patchy coverage still need to be overcome for it to be fully and seamlessly integrated into the fan experience (but I would love to be proved wrong!)

Stephen O’Malley, COO, DataPOWA

1. Most significant deal / development in sportstech or media during 2019.

Amazon entering Premier League broadcast rights market in UK - and smashing it.

2. Favourite sports podcast / book / documentary / film in 2019.

Sean Singleton & Richard Gillis's new podcast (and consultancy) - The Unofficial Partner.

3. Prediction for the standout breakthrough tech or media development during 2020.

Blockchain enabled transactions for the sports deal marketplace.

James Pringle, Founder and CEO, Suggestv

1. Most significant deal / development in sportstech or media during 2019.

Amazon's Premier League coverage with Prime led to record sign-ups in the 2nd best bundle tech product ever invented (Microsoft Office being 1st).

2. Favourite sports podcast / book / documentary / film in 2019.

Amazon Prime's "Andy Murray - Resurfacing". Great story of resilience and hard work.

3. Prediction for the standout breakthrough tech or media development during 2020.

(i) The first Football Index millionaire will be announced.

(ii) DAZN will acquire a documentary company to increase exclusive content production. e.g. Gary Lineker's Goalhanger Films Ltd.

(iii) We will have an eSports star nominated as Sports Personality of the Year. (I don't think this will happen, but it could and it would be monumental).

Oliver Weingarten, Founder & CEO, LDN UTD

1. Most significant deal / development in sportstech or media during 2019.

There are such a plethora the choice is hard, however whilst I was minded to list Formula E’s adoption of live ghost racing (not just because I was involved in it), I think Amazon’s streaming of PL matches is going to massively interesting and the ramifications significant. Yes the rights were sold a year before, but the live output was at the end of 2019, and the consequence of this being successful for Amazon, will have knock on effects potentially for other sports, but also for the Premier League in adding competition to the domestic market at a time the value is struggling to sustain the trajectory it previously had.

2. Favourite sports podcast / book / documentary / film in 2019.

Beyond the Grid – F1 Podcast with Tom Clarkson

3. Prediction for the standout breakthrough tech or media development during 2020.

AI. We’re going to see it everywhere!

Dan Bedi, Co-Founder & CEO, JAFA

1. Most significant deal / development in sportstech or media during 2019.

Amazon taking the Premier League broadcasting rights over Dec 2019 (the new wave), which was executed well and will be tough to compete with them longer term if they want the rights.

2. Favourite sports podcast / book / documentary / film in 2019.

Netflix documentary on F1 - Drive to Survive, was absolutely epic to see behind the scenes.

3. Prediction for the standout breakthrough tech or media development during 2020.

Amazon or Facebook really coming into the media space in sports. They will revolutionise the viewing experience forever.

Hass Aminian, Founder & CEO, Millennial Events, Singapore

1. Favourite podcasts in 2019.

Heavy Strategy stuff that goes over my head : “Feel more Buy More” by System1.

Light conversation stuff with an Asian/China skew: “The Milo Chao Show”.

Skate/Surf News and Reviews and Interviews: “The Monday MASS with Chris Cote”, “The Nine Club with Chris Roberts”

Business Fun/Entertainment: “Business Wars”

2. Prediction for the standout breakthrough tech or media development during 2020.

My prediction last year was for a wider role for environmental sustainability as a key component in event management, to reduce impact on environment (obviously), to drive down costs, and in attracting younger audiences.  For 2020 I would add that all events will need to embrace a social cause in their planning, likely around the environment, but also in other areas that overlap with the target audience. 

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