SportsInnovation Future Summit 2019: a recap


by Marco Lorenzi

Off the back of the hugely successful first edition of SportsInnovation Summit last year in Düsseldorf, 2019 brought the conversation of where the world of sport technology is heading overseas with two roadshow events.


by Marco Lorenzi

Off the back of the hugely successful first edition of SportsInnovation Summit last year in Düsseldorf, 2019 brought the conversation of where the world of sport technology is heading overseas with two roadshow events.

Beijing and New York were the two chosen destinations to host the SportsInnovation Future Summit and bring together leaders from the sports, tech and business industries, in September and October respectively.

Messe Düsseldorf, DFL and Sportcast, in collaboration with us at Deltatre as a Gold Sponsor, organised the two gatherings. The invite-only events brought together top executives from all over the world to take the pulse of an industry entering a decade that will be characterised by continuous innovation in tech and will see a number of world-class, globally-viewed events take place.

A series of panels and conversations took place across the Summit, shining the spotlight onto the most debated topics of today’s business in sports. Expectations for the near future, especially in correlation with technology and how it can influence the fan experience, were at the core of the conversation. Below is a recap of what came out of the SportsInnovation Future Summit. Enjoy!

The future of sports in China; the future of China in sports

Beijing was our first stop on our Future Summit tour, providing a prestigious lineup of speakers with a platform to discuss the current activity of sports businesses in one of the most exciting territories across the globe.

The main panel, chaired by Deltatre’s Carlo De Marchis, featured Ma Guoli, Consultant to Chairman at CBA, Ao Ming, Vice President of PP Sports, Shoto Zhu, Founder and Chairman at OCEANS Sports & Entertainment Marketing, as well as Niclas Ericson, an independent industry consultant. Their objective was to unpack the trends of a country that has the ambition to build a CYN 5 trillion sports industry by 2025 (about $715 billion). Challenges and opportunities of the current ecosystem were analysed and discussed, all through the lens of today’s 21st century sports fan. What emerged was a picture of a highly complex territory at the forefront of technological innovation, rewriting the rules of sports consumption to transform itself into a powerhouse of digital production. China, it is clear, is playing a big role in shaping the way fans engage with rights owners and holders.

The region is also facing the so called ‘5G revolution’. This is set to disrupt the market even further, opening new opportunities for broadcasters to reach new, mobile-first audiences. From the headline panel emerged the concept of the ‘fluid-fan’ - a tech-savvy user who, despite being still accustomed to watching sport on TV via traditional operators (e.g. pay-TV and national broadcasters), is willing and eager to move across many digital touchpoints for a more enhanced experience.

Our own Carlo De Marchis, Group Chief Evangelist, summarised the panel nicely. He said “one thing is clear - the challenge in China is how to monetise the ways fans consume sports, particularly across social media and digital platforms. The attention span of consumers is shorter than ever and there is less prominence being placed on watching the full live game. Operators have to leverage technology to fill the white space and keep users engaged across platforms.”

The digital decade

From Beijing to New York, the ‘Big Apple’ was the home of our second SportsInnovation roadshow, hosted within the walls of the Bundesliga’s International US headquarters. On a brisk, Manhattan afternoon a number of world-class executives and a strong lineup of speakers sat down to discuss the status of the next digital decade of sport in the US that will come to a head withthe North American FIFA World Cup and the Olympics set to take place in LA in 2028.

An introductory conversation between the NBA Commissioner Emeritus, David Stern, and John Kosner - formerly ESPN, now advisor to and investor in sports technology start-ups - brought to the audience some invaluable insights into the story of the NBA and its transformation into a globally-watched powerhouse through years of strategic investment.

The main panel, moderated by Deltatre’s Carlo De Marchis, shifted attention to the aforementioned ‘digital decade’, with the input from a particularly prestigious lineup of speakers. Bonnie Bernstein, sports journalist, John Brody, Executive Vice President of Global Sales and Head of International at WWE, Kathryn Carter, CEO of US Olympics, Alex Kaplan, President & General Manager at Discovery Golf, and Blake Stuchin, NFL’s Vice President, Digital Media Business Development, sat down and talked all things sports and tech.

In particular, the debate moved from OTT as a core revenue driver, to the rising prominence of eSports, and the increasingly important role played by TikTok in attracting younger generations, and - more than ever - the necessity to push the boundaries of what is technologically possible continuously.

Innovation was, yet again, one of the keywords in New York as it was in Beijing. The DFL brought onto the American stage the latest developments from their technological research and development work. The last decade has seen the German football federation show great progress in the use of technology to enhance the potential of the game and its following among fans. Andrea Heyden, EVP Digital Innovations DFL Group - presented a case study on the launch of 5G solutions for the first time in a Bundesliga stadium on a joint project with Vodafone.

The Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg became the first 5G stadium in Europe and staged the first live showcase of the in-stadium mobile communications potential of the future. For the first time, selected guests in the arena were able to test a prototype for the new real-time app that Vodafone and DFL are developing for an enhanced use of the 5G network. The app allows users to access immersive content created in augmented reality via their smartphones, deepening the fan experience. A giant step forward for the entire industry, the DFL integrated approximately 3.6 million position data points and 1,600 match events per match (i.e. goals, passes, fouls) via its subsidiary Sportec Solutions - a joint venture founded with Deltatre.

It’s a wrap

SportsInnovation Future Summit 2019 was the perfect platform to convey insightful conversations about technology in sports worldwide and the natural evolution of this business in the next few years. It was also the ideal preview of what 2020 will have to offer. In a year of world-class events such as the UEFA Euros and the much-awaited Tokyo Olympics, Düsseldorf will host the second edition of the flagship event SportsInnovation Summit next year - we can’t wait.

Save the date! 25-26 March, Merkur-Spiel Arena - that’s where the future of sport will meet again. Click here for more details.


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