Spotlight on Barn Door and the Sports Tech industry in 2019
Sport, as a market, outpaces GDP in most countries across the world. With over $10bn invested over the last 5 years due to tech advances and regulation changes, the sports tech industry is on track to reach $100bn by 2021. For professionals, rights holders and consumers, the merge of technological innovations with sport has changed the face of every sport imaginable. Whether it is new media and broadcasting services, fan engagement platforms, E-Sports, big data, elite wearables or AI; sport has evolved rapidly over the last few years. Data points and technology are overtaking tactics in shaping athlete’s preparation to obtain crucial marginal gains, whilst the collection of information from data is helping clubs, leagues and tournaments to build future strategies. Sport consumption is now shaped by new technologies and as fans become more engaged and connected than ever, unique experiences are being demanded. With the recent launch of Otro, storytelling around star athletes has again become a focus with fan media increasingly becoming more personalised and immersive. In-stadia, young fans are driving increases in attendance because of an improved match-day experience. The sports marketplace is continuing to be re-invented and 2019 will no doubt be another exciting year for start-ups in the industry.
In view of this growth, early stage businesses and challenger brands are now seeking out athletes as valuable partners. Accordingly, today’s savvy athletes are using their image, expertise, money and networks to advise, invest in and work for exciting new ventures across various different industries. Founders and elite level athletes share inherent character traits that enhance these relationships and translate well into the commercial world. However, it is only as athletes start to appreciate their transferable skillset that they can begin to realise their value as a shareholder. The contingent self-worth that an athlete has both as a person and a professional during their career is contingent purely on their achievements within their chosen sport. Post-retirement, this is no longer the case and athletes often have to go through a period of first understanding what their value set as a ‘real’ person in the professional world really is. With an ability to raise the profile, credibility and identity of a business or brand through their time, image and/or financial resource, collaborating with athletes is not a one-size fits all proposition. It is however, proving a very popular formula and just as is the trend with the breadth of early stage sports tech businesses that exist, US athletes are leading the way. Here at Barn Door, we exist to help try and bridge this gap, introducing a wealth of sports stars across 27 different sports with exciting and relevant commercial ventures within a number of different industries.
It seems prudent to assume a number of key trends will continue on an upward trajectory in 2019. As streaming services continue to gain momentum, niche sports will rise in popularity. E-Sports will continue to grow and make in-roads into traditional sports, as we’ve seen recently with Zwift. There is weight behind the suggestion that E-Sports could soon become the world’s most popular pastime. Why not when 260m fans follow football globally, but 1.2bn play computer games? Wearable tech and VR will continue to re-define and advance human training improving future performance. ‘Datatainment’ serviced by the likes of Opta will continue to enhance the consumer experience. Fans will become more active and influential with clubs making smart stadiums and flexible ticketing systems the norm. All of this makes it an exciting time to be a sports fan and with the engaged and loyal audience that exists, start-ups will continue to thrive in the sector. There will no doubt be an increased flow of institutional money and athlete involvement in the industry and it is something that we at Barn Door are extremely excited to be a part of!
Ben Peppi, Head of Sport Services.
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