Stadium Live, a digital social gaming platform geared almost entirely to the Gen-Z demographic, has raised a $10 million Series A led by KB Partners and Union Square Ventures.
Through its custom avatars, sports-centric gameplay, trivia and in-house livestreams, Stadium Live has accrued 500,000 users to date and claims 93% of them are Gen Z’s born between 1997 and 2010. The startup’s premise is that its metaverse build-out (trademarked as StadiumVerse), chats and short-form sport content will attract young adults who have grown up in a digital culture and prefer real-time social platforms.
“I started looking at the Stadium Live because the ESPNs of the world, they’re targeting millennials, they’re going to sports betting," the company’s CEO Kevin Kim told SportTechie. "They’re still one-directional sports news and all that stuff. And I said, ‘Who’s building it for the next generation, which is Gen Z?’"
“Gen Z, they love to play games, and they love to meet friends over games. They don’t watch the full games anymore around NBA, MLB, whatever. They like to create things, they like to customize things, based on NBA2K and all those type of games. And I said, well, if these kids are all into that, the sports industry is not following along. So how can we gamify sports fandom? We’re trying to build this digital playground for the next generation of fans."
Stadium Live app users, after creating a custom avatar, can socialize on iOS with other sports fans and earn coins to power up their avatar. Coins can then be spent collecting unique items or used in one-on-one sports trivia match-play, among other activities.
The company recently partnered with Fan Controlled Football, a 7-on-7 indoor league that lets fans vote to call plays from scrimmage for their favorite team. Stadium Live produces pre-game and post-game content for the league and also stages polls to help Fan Controlled Football better engage with fans. Kim said Stadium Live also has digital rights to stream the upcoming Fan Controlled Hoops league, expected to debut in the fall.
Other contributors to Stadium Live’s Series A funding were Kevin Durant’s 35 Ventures, Dapper Labs Ventures, Position Ventures, Valhalla Ventures, 6th Man Ventures, Blaise Matuidi’s Origins Fund and Breakout Capital.
LIV Golf’s New Jersey event tees off Friday afternoon as the new series looks to bring its broadcast production up to speed after conducting its first two tournaments with a less-than-ideal amount of prep time.
“What the plan rapidly became was to launch with a set of innovations on which we had been strategizing, as far as the pieces of the puzzle that would work well out of the gate, and start with a minimum, viable product list,” LIV Golf chief media officer Will Staeger told SportTechie.
For the final six events of 2022, the goal is to roll out a new feature at each stop. This weekend at Bedminster, LIV coverage will include a new zipline point-to-point camera, and refine its additions from Portland that brought drone footage, mini map graphics and ‘tornado pins,’ identifying players from wide-view fairway shots.
The new innovations will come along as LIV more consistently implements current golf staples, like ball tracers and live yardage stats, that have not been readily available for every shot thus far. “Because of the timing,” Staeger said, “we didn’t have the kits available on short notice to have the same level of statistics as some of the incumbent coverage (has) in ball and club data.”
As the season continues, look for more putting prediction graphics around the greens and audio innovations across the U.S. streaming options LIV offers with assistance from tech partners that include Verizon and video platforms Zixi and ViewLift.
Tally Technology, a gaming startup co-founded by NFL star quarterback Russell Wilson, has launched a free-to-play prediction game for Saturday’s I-Tech Cup soccer friendly between Tottenham Hotspur and AS Roma at Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa, Israel. The inaugural I-Tech Cup is being organized to showcase emerging Israeli sports technology startups and integrate their products into the match experience.
Fans around the world can play Tally’s online prediction game, which is available in any language and will post a series of questions before the game and at halftime related to predicting outcomes of the Tottenham-Roma friendly. Jerusalem-based production company MTR7 is funding the I-Tech Cup, which will include an expo for more than 15 sports tech startups and allow executives from Tottenham and Roma to evaluate these technologies for applications across their clubs. Earlier this month, Tottenham launched its own Spurs Play streaming service with Endeavor.
“The I-Tech Cup is a tournament to showcase and integrate new sports technologies into the game and to provide the technological solutions that clubs are looking for,” MTR7 CMO Moti Sobel told The Athletic. “In Israel, we have a big sports tech industry — including different verticals like fan engagement, data analytics, 5G, cloud, etc. The startup companies involved in the match are all private companies, but the [Israeli] government has the wish to showcase this technology and export it to the world.”
Tally was founded in 2018 and has previously made prediction games for teams such as the Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Lakers. Israeli startup accelerator Hype Sports Innovation is hosting Saturday’s match in partnership with MTR7. According to The Athletic, Hype wanted to place Israeli startup MindFly’s body cameras on Tottenham manager Antonio Conte and Roma manager José Mourinho for Saturday’s match, but neither club agreed to the idea. Players previously wore MindFly’s body cam in a friendly match between FC Cologne and AC Milan.
The University of South Carolina will launch a new subscription streaming service called Gamecocks+ for fans to watch behind-the-scenes video content from the school’s sports teams. The service will debut this fall ahead of the college football season and cost $8.33 per month or about $100 per year.
South Carolina has partnered with software engineering firm WMT Digital and content production company Sport & Story to develop Gamecocks+ which will be free for fans who are already members of the Gamecock Club. Gamecocks+ will include interviews and mic'd up moments with student-athletes and coaches, a film-room segment with coaches, as well as documentaries and archived footage on great games and plays in USC’s history.
Sport & Story, which has previously launched the Hogs+ streaming service for Arkansas and OSU Max for Oklahoma State, will also produce the new Cock-A-Doodle Brew new daily email newsletter for South Carolina. Gamecocks+ will be available to be streamed on AppleTV, Amazon FireTV, Roku, and Android devices.
The parent company of PowerHandz, a sports and fitness technology brand, has announced a multimillion dollar investment from Vanguard Holdings Group.
PowerHandz is best known for its namesake weighted training gloves that are used for both athlete training and physical rehabilitation. Among the other weighted products are a powersuit and a training basketball. Charlotte Hornets All-Star guard LaMelo Ball, who was 2020–21 NBA Rookie of the Year, is a general partner of the company and has launched his own 1Ball-branded line of products.
Frisco, Texas-based PowerHandz is operated by PH Innovation Holdings, which was co-founded by CEO Danyel Surrency Jones and president Darnell Jones. They have assembled a star-studded roster of ambassadors and advisors including NFL Hall of Famer Tim Brown, former All-Pro safety Brian Dawkins, Basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman, Olympians Wallace Spearmon and Lauren Chamberlain and pro athletes in golf, boxing, the NBA, NFL and MLB.
Penn National Gaming has moved theScoreBet’s technology stack to run on programs built entirely by in-house product and engineering teams—including its Risk and Trading platform, Player Account Management system and Promotion Engine. TheScoreBet’s new proprietary system replaces Bet.Works, the software the previously powered theScore’s mobile sportsbook.
TheScore was sold to Penn National Gaming for $2 billion last October and in July Penn decided to cease theScoreBet’s U.S. operations to focus on its expansion across the emerging Canadian sports betting market. TheScore Bet’s mobile betting app is now live in Ontario, where its new proprietary tech stack supports expanded in-game wagering options, event props, and stronger personalization of offers to users based off their individual betting activity.
A new Parlay+ feature will be added to theScore Bet’s app this fall to place parlay wagers across all major league sports. Barstool Sportsbook, the U.S. sports betting app also owned by Penn National, expects to migrate its tech stack to the same platform as theScoreBet by the third quarter of 2023.
Paris Saint-Germain has partnered with digital sneaker marketplace GOAT to launch People of Paris, a visual campaign celebrating the club and city, while developing a branded portal in the GOAT platform.
The first physical presence is a billboard to be unveiled at the Louvre Rivoli on Aug. 1, and there will be a digital experience in the GOAT app and website, which have their own dedicated PSG experiences. Throughout the Ligue 1 and Champions League seasons progress, new experiences and limited edition apparel will become available.
GOAT, which launched in 2015, has raised nearly $500 million, mostly recently a $195 million Series F in May 2021 at a valuation of $3.7 billion. Among its earliest investors is Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, husband of Serena Williams, co-owner of NWSL’s Angel City and an investors in sports and tech.
PSG has won eight of the last 10 Ligue 1 titles and reached the UEFA Champions League semifinals in two of the past three seasons. Led by Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé and Neymar, the Parisian club opens its domestic schedule on Aug. 6 against Clermont Foot.
Candy Digital has reached a new multi-year digital collectibles partnership with baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., in what will be the first set of licensed NFTs for The Iron Man. The Cal Ripken Jr. Rookie Collection will be released Aug. 23 on Candy Digital’s marketplace and is dedicated toward highlighting specific moments from Ripken Jr.’s 1982 season when he won A.L. Rookie of the Year forty years ago.
The NFTs include still images and archived video highlights from the 1982 season, as well as footage and audio narration from Ripken Jr. that Candy Digital recorded while interviewing him at Camden Yards earlier this year.
In 1982, an unbreakable streak began. Commemorate @CalRipkenJr's stellar debut season with our Cal Ripken Jr. Rookie Collection. Coming August 23: https://t.co/JpVOnXqoAT pic.twitter.com/AngbnQqKmV
“This new medium really allows athletes to tell their story and connect with a new audience to tell stories about games, some artifacts, and really bring their story to a whole new generation,” Matt Novogratz, Candy Digital’s Head of Partnerships, told SportTechie. “That was a really special day for us to hang out in an empty Camden Yards with one of the all-time greats.”
Ripken Jr.’s rookie collection will span five tiers of NFTs with prices to be announced at a later date. The owner of the 1-of-1 Legendary ICON NFT will engage directly with Ripken over a 15-minute video conversation organized by Candy Digital. Winners of the Legendary NFT and Epic NFT (50 to be produced) will also receive a signed piece of physical memorabilia from Ripken Jr. The Legendary, Epic and Rare (120 to be produced) will also include a digital replica of Ripken Jr.’s Rookie of the Year trophy that was 3D scanned by Candy Digital’s cameras when their team visited Ripken’s warehouse where he stores his own memorabilia such as awards and game-worn jerseys from his career.
“Cal has a warehouse full of all his artifacts throughout his playing career, [and this NFT collection] gives us a chance to volumetrically scan these items and share them with his biggest fans,” Novogratz said. “Things that he would never actually sell, but it'll be the closest the collector will ever get to be able to own one of these things. In essence, we're creating a digital fan club where athletes can connect with their closest fans.”
Ripken’s rookie NFT collection includes two other tiers: the Uncommon (330 to be produced, includes imagery and video from his rookie year) and the Core NFT that features a photo from his rookie year (700 will be produced). Candy Digital has plans to release future NFT series dedicated to later seasons of Ripken Jr.’s 21-year career. Those collections will also include digital 3D scans of items from Ripken’s personal memorabilia warehouse.
“We think [Ripken Jr.’s] kind of the perfect choice to connect a traditional card collector with this new digital collecting,” Novogratz said. “I think elements of a traditional trading card are going to be part of what we're doing. Our whole mission here is to bridge that gap between physical and digital. Sometimes we'll include physical signatures, sometimes we'll have unique digital signatures, sometimes there'll be a combination. We're firm believers that these digital assets are going to become pervasive in fandom and this is how people are going to collect and connect with sports.”
New research from a consortium of nine research universities in collaboration with the Concussion Legacy Foundation has concluded that repetitive head impacts are “a definitive cause” of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE is a degenerative brain disease that can only be diagnosed through a post-mortem brain exam.
Though the CDC and the NFL previously had acknowledged a causal relationship between the two, many influential sporting groups had not, including FIFA, World Rugby, the IOC, NHL and NCAA. The paper was published by the journal Frontiers in Neurology.
These researchers, which included academics from Harvard and Boston University, found that previously published independent studies from the US Department of Defense, BU and the Mayo Clinic indicated that contact sports athletes were 68 times more likely to have developed CTE than those that didn’t. The group also employed the Bradford Hill criteria—a system of assessing causal relationships that had been developed by a pioneering investigator of smoking and lung cancer work—and found that there was “robust evidence” in all nine benchmarks showing that repetitive head trauma was a cause of CTE.
Many sporting bodies and technology companies have been actively collaborating to research the frequency and magnitude of head impacts in their practices and competitions. The NFL allocated $60 million for its Engineering Roadmap for player health and safety, which has included the development of sensor-laden mouthguards, the creation of a Digital Athlete in conjunction with AWS and the distribution of grant money to catalyze helmet innovation. World Rugby has partnered with Prevent Biometrics, also the maker of an instrumented mouthguard, on several projects.
Premier League club Brentford FC is launching its own over-the-top streaming service called BuzzBox to offer on-demand content and audio commentary to subscribers.
StreamAMG was selected to provide the underlying video technology, including its core product, MediaPlatform, to deliver streams to a wide number of devices. The broader company is based in London, but StreamAMG’s sports division is housed in the MediaCityUK
Development in Manchester. Its website notes that more than 75% of Premier League clubs use StreamAMG, as do Paris Saint-Germain, Roma and Premiership Rugby.
The launch of BuzzBox follows an upgrade to the Brentford Bees’ website, which will also include a new ticketing experience in the coming weeks. Brentford, which was founded in 1889, ascended to the Premier League for the first time last season and finished 13th to remain in the top tier of English football.
Dick’s Sporting Goods is launching a new virtual world on Roblox called “School of Sport” as part of the retail company’s back-to-school campaign. The virtual environment was created to mimic a real-world high school and will contain a digital storefront where users can acquire digital shoes, apparel, and accessories to outfit their avatars.
The digital clothing can be acquired for free in exchange for style points, Roblox’s in-game currency that users collect through completing challenges and obstacles courses. Virtual spaces at Dick’s Sporting Goods High on Roblox include a cafeteria social hub, hallways, gymnasium, field, basketball court, and locker room. Users will also be able to collect virtual school supplies for their avatars such as notebooks and water bottles.
"It is important for us to continue evolving the way we engage with consumers. We are excited to make our entrance into the Metaverse with 'School of Sport,' creating a space to share sport and style while also connecting with our younger athletes," Ed Plummer, CMO at DICK'S Sporting Goods, said in a statement.
Dick’s joins Nike as leading sports equipment and apparel brands to have launched their own virtual world on Roblox after the Swoosh debuted “Nikeland” in November. Roblox has also hosted in-game activations from the NFL, UEFA, NASCAR and Wimbledon.