Nike became the official supplier of NBA uniforms this season, having agreed to pay $1 billion over the next 8 years for the right to place their company logo on team jerseys, shorts and socks; but the partnership has gotten off to a rocky start. The new jerseys have been tearing and stars Steph Curry and James Harden, who represent competing sneaker companies, have gone out their way to avoid having the Nike logo visible near their shoes; rolling or cutting down their socks to protect their lucrative endorsement contracts. Unfortunately for Nike, nothing in the NBA’s operations manual prohibits a player from wearing team issued socks as they please.
Howie Long-Short: While Nike (NKE) can’t be pleased, they signed this deal to put their swoosh on jerseys; not socks. Adidas was the league’s previous official uniform supplier and their contract didn’t even include socks (Stance was the league’s supplier during the ’16 season). ADDYY held their earning call on Thursday and while the news was overwhelmingly positive, the company did note that the loss of the NBA jersey contract has hurt basketball revenue sales. In this case, their loss is NKE’s gain.
Fan Marino: Want to get a good look at Curry’s (or Harden’s) newest player exclusive? Strap on your Samsung GearVR or Google Daydream headset and pull up a courtside seat to the game. Intel (INTC) has announced a partnership with Turner Sports (TWX) that will enable the company to broadcast select NBA on TNT games using TrueVR technology; beginning with the 2018 All-Star game. Users will be able to choose their camera angle (including courtside) and freeze and watch highlights in 360 degrees.
Nike paid the NBA $1 billion to use its uniforms, and 2 of the NBA’s biggest stars are hiding the swoosh
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MLB offers fans a free weekly (Tuesday evenings) out-of-market virtual reality broadcast, powered by Intel (INTC) True VR. Using the Intel True VR App fans can control the broadcast POV, get access to postgame highlights and on demand replays of each game. To watch the VR steams, you’ll need a Samsung (KRX: 005930) phone, a Gear VR headset and to download the VR app from the Oculus (FB) app store. Curiosity is driving viewers for short windows of time, but the challenge ahead for MLB is figuring out how to keep that viewer tuned in for a 3-hour game.
Howie Long-Short: When Intel was looking for a VR partner, they were looking for 3 things. Defensible IP, scalability and the ability to stream its feed into a two-dimensional screen as well as to head-mounted goggles. It found its match in Voke VR. Intel lead their $12.5 million Series A round in March ’16, before acquiring the company in November 2016.
Fan Marino: True VR offers views down the first base line, from the right field corner and behind home plate, but the most popular views thus far have been the dugout views. That doesn’t surprise me. It’s a chance for fans to get “behind the scenes”, without the content being scrubbed first (i.e. Hard Knocks).
Virtual Reality Reaches The Big Leagues With Intel
The NFL is getting smarter, as its teams and players embrace the recent explosion in digital health & athletic performance applications. Here at JWS, we look to put the companies (that you can invest in) behind those applications on your radar.
Zebra Technologies (ZBRA); Catapult (ASX:CAT) – Both companies track the movement of players during games, providing next generation stats based on location, speed and acceleration. ZBRA places radio frequency identification tags on each player and receivers around a stadium, then triangulates the position of the tags. CAT uses GPS and accelerometers to determine location and movement.
Sparta Science – Strength tool used to measure the force a player applies to a plate in the ground as he jumps (i.e. the push off). Qualcomm Ventures (QCOM) is among their investors.
STRIVR – Developed a virtual reality system that runs players through practice reps. BMW (ETR: BMW) i venture is among their investors.
Kinduct – Intel (INTC) backed data management company, that converts data into actionable insights; recently partnered with Zebra Technologies.
Howie Long-Short: The NFL has its own private equity arm, 32 Equity. The firms most recent investment was in Blue Star Sports, the Jerry Jones backed sports technology provider. The investment capital will be used to fuel technology acquisitions that enhance the youth sports experience and foster youth sports participation.
Fan Marino: STRIVR was developed at Stanford and first used by David Shaw’s team during the 2014 season. Kevin Hogan was the first QB to use the technology. If you’ve never seen STRIVR in action, check out this 30 second clip!
NFL Technology: What’s New for the 2017 Season
Intel (INTC) has agreed on a 7 year deal with International Olympic Committee, to provide emerging technology solutions including: True VR, 3D & 360 video content, AI, drone light show tech and 5G mobile platforms, for the Olympic Games, beginning in 2020. The deal has an estimated value of $400 Million.
Intel Will Work with the IOC to Reimagine the Future of the Olympic Games with New Levels of Fan Interaction Through Leading-Edge Technology
Howie Long-Short opines: I don’t buy this price tag. Long way to go for 5G mobility to be a reality. I’m intrigued to see if they can make VR work though.
Fan Marino says: I found it difficult to watch a 2 hour basketball game in True VR, during March Madness. Short Olympic events (think: track & field & swimming) would seem to be best suited for head-set wearing required technology. Once the head-set is on though, you feel like you are in the front row.