Jay and Tim welcome their first Hall of Fame inductee to The Game Plan as Olympic Gold Medalist and Sports Innovation Lab Co-Founder Angela Ruggiero joins the show to share her relentless passion for sports and innovation.
Jay and Tim welcome their first Hall of Fame inductee to The Game Plan as Olympic Gold Medalist and Sports Innovation Lab Co-Founder Angela Ruggiero joins the show to share her relentless passion for sports and innovation.
On this episode, our guest shares her experience as an Executive Member of the International Olympic Committee and provides perspective on the decision to postpone this year's Winter Olympic Games in Tokyo.
We discuss Angela's storied professional hockey career and her transition to the corporate world as the Co-Founder and CEO of Sports Innovation Lab. The Sports Innovation Lab is a Boston-based think tank that provides leaders in sports with proprietary research to make decisions that will keep them ahead of the curve in the sports industry. We go deep on Sports Innovation Lab's offering and the sports innovation landscape as a whole.
Listeners won't want to miss the story about the time our guest turned down a job offer from Donald Trump.
*Please excuse any and all typos, errors and mistakes in the following transcript as an automated service is used to generate this text*
That's the thing.
It's almost like a reality. You have to like swallow and accept that. Like you won't get that high anywhere else. And I think that is the biggest shift of you're playing and thought of in front of 20,000 people, you know, there's millions of home watching, like everything's on the line, you get this like massive adrenaline rush.
and then. Literally nothing will come close. So I'm like, all right, I got a big PowerPoint today. I'm going to be in front of an investor or Hey, I'm, you know, there's literally nothing that you can duplicate to get that same kind of rush. so it's, it's like making things relative, I think is what athlete's biggest problem that they expect to have that same rush.
And you also have to recalibrate your expectations.
Perhaps it's a not so humble brag to say we've had Olympic gold medalists on the game plan before, but none have quite the relationship with the Olympics as our next guest who served as an executive member on the international Olympic committee today, we are very excited to talk to hockey hall of Famer, Angela Ruggiero about her story professional hockey career, as well as her transition to the corporate world as the co founder and CEO of sports innovation lab.
Angela, thanks for joining us on the game plan.
Thanks for having me guys really excited to be here.
Yeah, this is great. I got to say, Tim is quite the hype man. I mean, just listing up those accomplishments gives me goosebumps. Does hearing all that still get your adrenaline going.
I live in the now I'm I love obviously my hockey career, but it's, you know, so far behind me now. And occasionally I'll look up and maybe see a, an email or a poster from my basement. Sometimes I forget I played hockey.
Well, you, you did play in four Olympics, which includes winning the gold medal in 98 as part of your first appearance, looking back on some of those memorable experiences or, , are there ones that you specifically look back on and, and cherish from your years playing?
Yeah. I mean, I'm proud that I played more games than any other man or woman in a USA. Hockey Jersey love that Jersey it's obviously defines who I am in a lot of ways. I'd say two moments stand out. you can't. Get through this conversation without talking about the gold medal in 98, it was the first time women's hockey was in the Olympics.
I was actually the youngest player on that team. we weren't supposed to win. We were, the underdogs had never beaten Canada in a major tournament. And, you know, when it came time to shine, our team showed up and, claim that first historical metal. So that was just amazing feeling to be on top of the podium.
See the full power of the Olympics, not just in Japan, where it was hosted, but when I came home all the little boys and girls that signed up for hockey after seeing that game and then suddenly being thrust into a position as a role model, and seeing the effect that you could have on kids. So.
Winning a gold medal at the highest stage in the world at the Olympics has to be up there. a second memory I would say is a one that no one ever talks about, was the world championships in 2008. we were, again, Really bad that year, not going lie.
we lost in, a crossover match, which meant we had to be Canada twice to win a medal. and I just, I keep looking back on that moment now that we're in the middle of this pandemic and, you know, thinking about trials and tribulations and, you know, were characters revealed. And I look back to that team that, I could go into more detail overcame this, almost insurmountable obstacle.
To win the gold. and that was really, something again, I keep thinking about as now, CEO of sports innovation lab of, you know, being in the corporate sector, what are the lessons I can learn from sports, to what I'm doing now.
Yeah. T tell us a little bit about that. I mean, there are obviously so many overlaps that we hear, people in the business world always making references to their favorite athletes with the last dance going on. Everybody is comparing their teams to, you know, how Michael Jordan pulled his bulls along.
So for you, what are some of those lessons that you bring into the business world from your playing days?
there's a reason everyone is a sports analogies there. you can communicate big themes very easily. You can remember where you were when you saw that team or in my case actually competed with that team. Any of us that had the opportunity to play sports. I'm sure it takes those lessons into the corporate setting and uses those strategies to be successful.
I'm no different, I think about all right, what is my goal? What's the strategy, my company, you know, what do we want to do? You know, achieve a goal medal. Do we want to go after this sector? You know, what's the team I need behind me, to, to achieve those things. How do we measure ourselves?
Look back on the good and the bad, make important decisions, the resilience and the grit, the things that, again, you can't measure are almost more important. You learn to fall a lot in sports, you learn to get up. and again, it's how you respond when you lose a game or, aren't successful. what you're learning from that process, what you're learning about yourself and your teammates.
so all of those things are applicable in the middle of ongoing business, in general that, I'm so lucky and blessed to have had so many kinds of repetitions at sports, that I don't have to like search for interesting stories to bring to my team.
It's just like, Oh yeah, that reminds me of this time in sports.
yeah. Yeah, that's right.
You also played a very integral role in the planning of the Olympics as a member of the executive board of the IOC. Tell us a little bit about how the Olympics evolved both over the time period of your time as a player. And then also as a member of the IOC board.
Yeah. So I was elected to represent athletes for an eight year term, from 2010 to 2018.
So I got a really great insider look at the Olympic movement, and probably was on, seven or eight different commissions through that time. The games have evolved quite a bit. When I first joined, you know, we were, what's your fax number?
something as basic as like how we communicate with one another to, even just the visibility of the Olympics. one of the big, you know, Strategies around the Olympics is free to air. So we're all about global access, opportunity for, you know, universality as many countries participating, 50, 50% gender representation.
. I think, you know, having the ability to go to different geographies, spreading the games out and obviously pushing for more gender equality. some would push back on that and proud we're almost there. so the games have changed quite a bit. I think the other thing is, with that increase in revenue with that increase in visibility, with the growth of the, you know, digital access athletes are more empowered now and similar to what we see in the name, image, likeness debate that we're having here in the U S with the NCAA and the recent changes we've seen about there.
So those two. models are quite similar and you're seeing a lot of the same internal dialogue at the IFC level from the athletes, at least. I can go on and on. Give me a specific question, cause I could literally talk about the Olympics for days.
well, yeah, so on that topic, I mean, I think we. We can't miss the fact that we are amidst this global crisis right now. And I saw you brought Paul Gasol on your podcast, the fluid fan, to talk a little bit about the perspective of, what went into the decision of having to postpone these upcoming Olympics and, everything tied to that.
Give us some more perspective on that, just from an emotional standpoint, dealing with the athletes and how to communicate properly to them with such a difficult message.
Yeah, so, I did have Paul on, his training for 2020 now, 2021. he was set to retire after these games and kind of move on with his career. And now he's having to postpone that. in some cases that's a great thing. Especially if you're in the MBA making a lot of money. in other cases it's really hard.
Maybe you're set to start a family. Maybe you're set to go back to business school or medical school. And you already have, you have to defer admission. maybe you aren't, in some cases, athletes, aren't guaranteed a spot. In most cases, they've guaranteed. If you qualified for 2020, you'll get a spot in 2021, but that means you have to continue to train.
And again, the uncertainty of training right now, a lot of athletes are training at home. the discrepancy and availability of an access to, to training a competition is, is very different from country to country. we're hoping to standardize at least pre qualification tournaments. so everything is relative, but it's, it's hard.
And the, and the biggest honestly, obstacle, I think for a lot of athletes that I heard at least. is the mental, you know, being at home like everyone is struggling, but on top of that, the anxiety and the uncertainty, I'd say 95% of Olympic athletes. Aren't the ones, the Michael Phelps of the world making tons of money.
so maybe it had a few contracts in place of the uncertainty. Are they gonna, are the sponsors going to do right by them add another year to that contract, to support them while they're at home, whether or not getting exposure. so a lot of athletes don't have that income. And you see slap major slashing of budgets.
I was on the world, rugby executive board call this morning. I'm on, I'm on the executive board. There every Federation like ours is having a slash budgets. and that trickles down to the athletes as well. So. the money's not there to help them train, the competition isn't there until it's safe.
and there's just a lot of anxiety and certainty over is 2021 actually going to happen. And if so, how do I put myself in the best position to win so really tough for the athletes, but he ended the day they wanted it, no one's going to risk their own health and safety and the health and safety of the fans and everyone that's part of the Olympic movement.
so it was definitely the right decision, but a lot of obviously impact, generally speaking.
Yeah. And you know, on a followup to that, getting back to your journey, we've heard from so many athletes that we've had on the show that when they retire, as you were talking about, right. Some athletes were planning to retire after these Olympics. And now there's some uncertainty there. We've heard about the uncertainty of retirement from athletes that, you know, they've had these pillars of team routine and competition.
From when they were little kids, right. From when they first started playing their sport. And then the day they retire, the day they stop playing, they lose all those things all at once. So would you say that was something that you found was true to you and your career that you had, those things of team routine and competition.
And then I guess if so, how did you fill those after you stop playing.
, I had a few moments where he and I still like, what's your purpose in life, right? When you're playing sports, it's so clear. You got the Olympic rings the back of your head, right? You've got playing at Harvard and the back of your head, whatever that, that goal was, for me.
And when you retire, it's like, what is, what is this crystal clear as, high performance in sport. And, you know, that's just like, what's your purpose? Luckily for me, I was so excited to go back to school. I'm a bit of a nerd. I went to Harvard, undergrad. I got my master's in sports management while I was training for the 2010 Olympics.
and I, and I knew I was ready to retire when I went to, a Harvard business school kind of get to know you. And I was like, Oh, this is so cool. It's so interesting. I want to learn all about everything. and I remember leaving that info session. Thinking I'm so much more excited to go into the classroom, then go back to the rank.
And I had to like, just follow my passion at that point. And so I always encourage athletes. like, you're never going to know what it is, but you have to like expose yourself to new people. mentors could show you a path. Maybe you never even thought about, you need to volunteer for boards or do internships, or just get exposure to the working world because.
Quite frankly, we can't work our full time job as sports. So we're at a disadvantage to our peers. and so I was always searching out those like interesting opportunities people while I was playing. And so my transition, I think, was a lot easier. I threw myself into business school and in a way I was so busy.
That I couldn't, I didn't have to stop and like dwell on the fact that my identity was like dramatically different and shifting, and like, I didn't know what I was going to do. I was like, Oh my head. I'm like, I'll figure it out. But at least I just have to stay on top of my homework tonight.
Yeah. Yeah. You know, it's funny you say that. Cause we, we had, NBA legend, Detlef shrimp on the show and he was telling us, he's like, If you've never run out of a tunnel to 20,000 people cheering for your name, he's like, you don't know that there is no other feeling in life like that. And
it's it's so it, that's the thing. It's almost like a reality. You have to like swallow and accept that. Like you won't get that high anywhere else. And I think that is the biggest shift of you're playing and thought of in front of 20,000 people, you know, there's millions of home watching, like everything's on the line, you get this like massive adrenaline rush.
and then. Literally nothing will come close. So I'm like, all right, I got a big PowerPoint today. I'm going to be in front of an investor or Hey, I'm, you know, there's literally nothing that you can duplicate to get that same kind of rush. so it's, it's like making things relative, I think is what athlete's biggest problem that they expect to have that same rush.
And you also have to recalibrate your expectations.
and you kind of made the most of it where I read that you were doing your sports management program while you were still training. And we know that there's a lot of athletes now we've seen from, you know, the NFL NBA that use our off season to get there, you know, either finish their education or maybe go get a masters.
How did you make the most of that experience that you were trying to do both things at the same time, you know, how were you able to do that?
I mean, I sought it out. I needed something other than sports. I always found. It's kind of like, the athletes that are hyper focused on just their craft. you're encouraged to, to have those blinders on your courage and all the staff around you, almost tries to minimize distraction. I found I worked the opposite, when I had other things outside of sports, I could, The, the littlest things didn't have the same ripple effect.
Right. So if I wasn't starting that game, Oh my God. And all I was thinking about was hockey all the time. then that would impact me, but if I wasn't starting that game and then I could go back to school at night, or I could focus on, you know, my new entrepreneur activity or, you know, my new speaking engagement, whatever I was doing, I could.
Kind of minimize the impact of that and not make it such a big deal. So I, I find in my eye, I tell athletes, get outside your bubble there, everyone in your bubble is encouraged for you to perform on the field, but they're not, they're not incentivized to help you off the field. It's not in their contract.
It doesn't make sense for your agent, your coach, anyone around you, your NGB, your Federation to, to help you be successful off the field. Other than they don't want these nasty statistics to say there's depression and suicide and all these negative things. So the incentives are not aligned to help your athlete.
and I just found I needed it. and it ended up being the best thing for me because I got a lot out of school and it led me to the career I'm in now.
I love that answer. It brings up something else that comes up a lot. Do you feel like success on the ice actually or enabled you to do more? and I'm not asking for like an access and opportunity standpoint, but actually from like, In terms of those surrounding you. We had Trevor Booker on the podcast and he talked about how the Brooklyn nets, actually, one of the reasons they potentially didn't reassign him was because they were worried they had too much stuff going on.
But then Jay and I have talked about, well, what if, what if he was averaging, you know, 50 points and 30 rebounds, would they, would they care that he was doing other stuff? Probably not. So do you, you know, in your experience, you, you achieve so much, do you feel like, that. Made it okay. To also be doing the other things or at the end of the day, you know, it was your own decision.
I had to hide. I mean, I, no one liked it. I was going to school at night. I had to. Get in a car and go down to Minneapolis and it was freezing if you've ever been in the university of Minnesota where I was going at the time. and I didn't tell many people that I retired to go back to Harvard business school.
Cause that seems crazy. Like you're you could go to a fifth Olympics, Angela win another gold medal. and I had to be realistic with myself. Like, no, I'm actually excited to be a nerd and go back to school, and not play hockey, which is like, how could you say that? You're so. I treat every athlete individually, some athletes with the distraction.
Totally. That will mess them up. And other athletes need the distraction. Just the same way we prepare for games. Some athletes are juggling a ball they're, they're loose, they're talking and others are like, don't talk to me. I'm in the zone. I need to focus. So I don't have like a one size fits all solution.
I just think the personalization of training, the personalization of like us as humans is what I think. The best coaches, the best organizations to talk to think about. So if one athlete would say, Hey, I got all these side deals going on and I'm moving and I'm shaking, I'm busy. And it's like the best thing for me, because I'm not, you know, hanging out with the wrong crowd or I'm not doing this, you know, great.
the best study I would, I would argue, sorry, student athletes and answer ballet in season grades higher than out of season grids, because you're forced to juggle multiple things.
And then you have to focus on each one when you're there. My grades are always better in hockey season, then in the spring, or I'm like, sweet. I have nothing to do. I'm going to hang out.
Yeah, maybe in a similar vein and there isn't necessarily a good way to ask this question, but I'm. Just so curious, did it ever bother you or was it something that you reflected on that you were one of the best players in your sport of all time, yet financially the viability or at least the idea of being set for life as others in your sport, you know, and the male side of the sport we're able to achieve.
Is that something you ever thought about or would
yeah, all the time. And I look at my bank account, but you know what? I'm like such an optimist silver lining, if I had millions of dollars, I'd be, you know, if I could have played till I was 40, like Chara, one of these defensemen and NHL, and just sat on a bunch of cash, I'd probably just retire and do nothing as a result of not making millions of dollars.
Like the men I get to do all these other things with my life. you know, I'm, exploring new passions, new things, and money is in everything at the end of the day. I mean, yeah, sure. I'd like a few more figures in my bank. But one, you explore yourself more when you like actually have to. so I think a lot of guys retire with a nice piggy bank and they're not really sure who they are, what they want to do.
So I feel like I've, I was always thinking I'm gonna retire and I'm going to have to work. And I don't know. And I got to, I want to do something I love right at the end of the day. And then two, it gets me excited to think about what are the, how can we change the paradigm? Why is it the women's sports?
Why is it that eliminate that Olympic sports don't have that same model? they don't have the decades of investment. They don't have the decades of fandom. there's a lot of, limiting factors that I think could quickly go away, especially what we're studying at sports innovation lab, around technology and fan engagement that.
I would love to apply to the women's game. so that future stars on the women's side, regardless of sport have that same opportunity access and, opportunity to earn a living at the end of the day. it's going to take time, obviously, maybe not the first generation of female, hockey players.
You can certainly look at like tennis and, some other sports that are quickly, almost where exactly where the men are.
well, well, let's, let's get into that. So you brought up the sports innovation lab in 2016. You co-founded became CEO of the sports innovation lab, which is a digital market research platform at the intersection of sports and technology. We'd love to hear that origin story and understand what in particular excited you about this business opportunity.
so after business school, I worked then with the LA 24, then 28. It in committee as the chief strategy officer, one of the things that we looked at and my job, was around innovation and, what is the future of the Olympics look like?
So we could win the hearts and minds of the IOC members and win their vote and, you know, bring the games back to the U S so, I recognize there was literally no one out there that was thinking, strictly on the future of sport. What is the, what is the business model? What are the technologies? What should we be doing now to capitalize on the future?
You saw ESPN numbers drop for the first time, their cable subscription. And I think 2015, a lot of OTT. I mean, this is five years ago now, but, there's a lot of change in digital and social and athletes, you know, having more of a voice than their teams and their leads. And there's like, There was something there.
And I, and I, met with my co founder, Josh Walker, who comes from a forest or research . When we talked about the opportunity to help define this market on behalf of the sports industry, to analyze the market, to make recommendations.
So as leaders in the sports industry, we're trying to. change their digital strategy or better connect to consumers at home, or, you know, reinvent the venue. Like what are all these solutions is super confusing or is athletes trying to better perform and having thousands of wearables being thrown at them?
Like, what does this market even look like? so we created the firm, we've been around three and a half years and we're just focused on helping our. Big brands in the sports media and entertainment space make better decisions around technology. And, with clarity and confidence, I think at the end of the day, I'm not know, you know, being an objective source of information.
we're not a media company and we're not, challenging any anyone literally in the space right now, we are a very different kind in my, my artist's challenges. Communicating what we do, because when you see all the different information, we put out a super smart team. I have, and it's, it's, it's just analyzing the market at the end of the day and helping our clients make better decisions around sports technology and innovation.
Yeah, and I think it's a long time coming. People don't realize just how fragmented the sports technology and sports business space is, especially now with how many new solutions are out there. and so everyone's trying to analyze and look at these things. From alpha, right. Or, you know, or like try to build their own competency and it's just not even possible.
So to have a group like sports innovation lab come in and be able to do that is pretty powerful. Where do you even begin?
well, Josh has heads up our, our research team. we started with just like these market maps. I'm sure you see every, you know, CBN sites, any of these groups that just literally put together the map. So we started with like, what's out there. how do we organize them? How do we classify them? So we have that classification at lexicon.
That then filtered into moving from Excel spreadsheets to our software and our software. Now I was able to analyze the 5,000 plus companies that we've identified that are sports tech related. And again, this could be Apple sports tech, Google, Intel, anyone that's a big technology coming in using their capabilities, coming into sports.
They're the ones we should be paying attention to right outside of what the typical. No, the Apple watch will say sports tech. They think on the field, it's, we're really focused off the field are really focused around the business. so by doing that hard work the first year, and by looking at the data over the last few years through our software, we were able to see.
pattern recognition. and now we're pulling that up into qualitative and quantitative tools. we launched a tool called the power play index a couple of weeks ago, which is our way of scoring the industry, along, lines of like market penetration and technology capability. So you can, if you're quickly want to say, like, how do I engage my fans?
That's such a broad, statement we've, we've dialed that down by fan behavior and then match the technology that will allow you to do that behavior, and scored it for you. So it's kind of a complicated way of saying like we're, we're following the industry. Our data's telling us what's going on.
Our leadership board members and our, and the industry is talking to us on top of that. And then we're coming up with tools to easily make decisions, and simplify this space. Cause the end of the day, it's super confusing. I don't know anyone. A top of a pandemic that wants to entertain like a thousand RFPs and figure out what's going on, but they all need to like, Make their venue safer and they need like contact lists and like who's in the contact list space.
And like, should it be I's and what's the payment solutions. And like, I'm like, hold on, let me just look that up. And we've just slipped out a laundry list of what's going on in this space. So, I'm really proud that we've done the hard work over the past few years to enable our clients today, to in the middle of a crisis situation, to make the decision on the spot or, or at least give them a short list.
Yeah. So before we get into some of the clients, I want to touch on that piece that you talked about the fans, right? So I've heard you say in the past that the challenge facing us as in the sports industry is that fans are undergoing a metamorphosis driven by technology, which I think is a great way to say it.
We've certainly seen the consumption habits for fans have changed in the past decade, especially given smartphones, but help us unpack that idea a little bit further. What is that metamorphosis and what in particular is changing about the fans that you want to make sure your clients understand
Well, we call them fluid fan. So again, we took a step back as a research company and said, let's like, actually look at what they're doing. we didn't start with sports because we don't want to be that myopic and just focus on our own industry. We looked at the consumer. so a lot of our research comes out of, what is the consumer doing?
You mentioned the phone, like if you order groceries, From your phone. If you've, you know, you're used to Amazon prime and then you walk into a venue, suddenly your behavior goes back five decades and no, I want to use my phone. I want personalized on demand. I want my payment integrated. I don't want to, I want there's this new consumer, this new fan, this fluid fan operates very differently.
They follow, players as an example, I mentioned before, not teams or leagues. Right. You, the MSCI has more followers than, FIFA. well that makes sense. or whatever team he gets traded to. Doesn't matter that you're following messy. so fans follow their values. Again, we see that across, you know, brand affiliation brands are responding differently to COVID as, as an example, we might have a better affiliation.
We might pay more. To the brands we feel like are doing the right thing. So we've changed as consumers. And that behavior in general is moving into sports. So fluid fans in general are more fickle. we say the diehard fan, the old model was built on them. Oh, I'm going to pack. I'm just going to sell season tickets year after year.
And even if our, the service quality is relatively low, they're still going to come back because they'd been with us for decades. It's generation and generation. They pass their tickets down. It's in our hearts. I have a tattoo like those diehards. Yes, they still exist. But the majority now are these fluid fans, which is, which are these younger consumers that have choice.
I can be a be here in Boston, but follow the premier league. Or I can follow the Olympics. 99.99% of Olympic fans will never go to an Olympics. They're all online. They're all, maybe their coordinators. Well, how does the Olympics reach them? Now? They have to go through their digital and social platforms. So the fan in general looks very different.
they have more choice and control. They want more personalization. they aren't stuck with the same old local. Teams. And so those teams, whether they're local or international, have to do more to service them. And we think technology is the way to do that. it's certainly the way to get in front of them, became more, you know, to keep them loyal and to ultimately get more of their wallet share.
and in this attention economy, the biggest risk to sports in our opinion is not, you know, here in Boston, the red Sox versus the Celtics, which was the old competition. It's not the sports industry. It's the entertainment industry. Who's doing it better. It's Netflix, it's fortnight. It's all these things that the sports industry is going, Oh, what are they doing there?
You know, why are these kids on Fortnite? I don't get it. And we're like, well, we do. They're, they're entertaining them better. They're like, e-sports like, so we're looking at all the ways that entertainment is changing engagement. And again, trying to apply that specifically to the sports industry.
I love what you said about the phone. I think, you know, when I launched the global sports venture studio with various, league partners and brands, that was what we would always say was like, you're not competing against one another you're competing against Or, or for the attention on this device and it's not league versus league or, you know, it's, you know, you're competing it's Instagram or you're competing against other social media.
So I think that's a really powerful thing. And it also shows like thinking like Quimby, for example, which now like, is, was not even here today. It's just gone tomorrow. Right. It's just gone today. is another example of that, where it was like, just. This thing that was created in a conference room, you know, as like the thing that media companies were doing wrong, it's like, well, yeah, that's that need or demand was already being served by social media and so many other things on a person's phone.
But it's a good point, like shorter form content again, if, if these fluid fans want quicker punchier, the fact that the NBA selling the fourth quarter, like at a lower price point, like that's smart business thinking. the fact that, you know, a lot of leagues are saying, well, maybe we should, how do we speed up play or decrease the amount of time?
Because he can't sit through a three and a half hour baseball game anymore and no one has attention, you know, do that. Like it's shifting, not just the business, but also the, the sport itself, which I think is really fascinating.
Yeah, well that, that's also to the makeup of the sport itself, which, which I think you guys mentioned the NBA, I'm thinking back to my NFL days, right? The helmet syndrome. It's like the NBA is perfectly designed for this era of the smartphone because. You, you see the players' faces and the game is easier to clip up in the highlights so that you can like, just watch a bunch of highlights to Kevin Duran and you get to see his face.
And it's like, there's some sports that are so perfectly designed to capture upon today's technology. And then there's other sports that I'm sure are struggling. So I guess on, on that lane, who are some of the clients or some of the types of clients that you've been able to work with, an advise who.
Maybe are not quite designed to capitalize on technology and the direction that it's dragging their game.
well, I don't know if I can comment on who's not, but, we love working on groups that are, Again, those that come to us are those like 10 to 15% that are investing, leaning in. I'd say, pre-crisis now everyone's like, what are we doing? one I love to talk about is Intel. because they have a technology called volumetric video and no one's like heard of it.
They're like, what the hell is that? but they're, you know, that 360 degree look that we used to have, that, that they brought to the NFL. Right. Volumetric video now gives you the ability to go in and like personalize what angle you want to look at. And so as fluid fans are changing, like, no, I don't want some commentator upstairs.
And tell me what to look at. Like why put defense, like, what is the defenseman doing? I don't care about the Ford. You always have the camera on the floor. Like, I want to see what the D was doing. And volumetric video allows you to do that instant replay, from the perspective of the fan, what the fan wants.
So there's. There's big, big tech companies like that out there that are investing billions of dollars to take the technology they already have. Maybe they're creating it for a movie studio and put it into sports. And those are the things we're really paying attention to because that will redefine the fan experience that will redefine.
what the NFL should be thinking about investing in and how they can further differentiate their property from others, because yes, you're, you're competing with and against leaks, but you're also competing in against again, entertainment. And if you, if these sectors are doing it better than sports, Yeah.
Th the diehards will stay, but these fluid fans, these more fickle aren't going to stay. So the companies like Intel or, Amazon, what are they doing? Like, how are they, how are they using their technology? Cisco, you know, the, these big tech brands are the ones that we like to work with. they're actually the majority of our clients.
we do work with the property side, the NFL, the NHL groups like that. but the majority of our clients are actually the technologies that are coming into this space.
speaking as somebody who is working with the technology companies interfacing with these league properties, and I can tell you on the other side where I know how slow the league moves when it has even sort of small decisions, right. It's just the whole idea of protecting the shield and so on. What have been the biggest points of friction for you when, when you are working with your clients?
To actually implement some of the strategies that you're suggesting.
Yeah. So you said the leagues, I can come from the IOC where it's even slower to change.
I mean, you go, well, those are for profits, I guess. Well, actually, technically than that, NFL is a nonprofit,
It it's. It's a, the, the, the status is shifting technically. Yes, that's right.
international federations, national Olympic MES, the Olympic space. Again, all nonprofit.
So different motive operating in general sports properties have operated. But the same kind of, you know, the same business model. I've got my broadcasting, that's going up. Good thing. I've got my sponsorship, which is going up. It's a good thing. I've got ticket sales, you know, going up, I've got merchandise and you know, there's, you know, food and Bev and other other sources, but you know, sort of your three or four main sources of revenue are going up.
So everyone's going, why do we need to change? Like times are good. My valuation is going through the roof. I, you know, these billionaires I could sell my property. Well, it's because of the rights fees are going up. Well, what happens again? Forecast 10, 20 years from now is everyone cuts the cord. We're already doing it and we're all on social.
We're all have our smart TVs. We're all on, you know, a plethora of OTT. Options, maybe it gets unbundled and bundled again, who knows, but the point is the model is changing. And so we go into any of our clients, they understand what's going on. It's those that are willing to take the risk now and invest in the future.
That's really the biggest value prop we have is, is, in some cases you have to change. You have to redo your venue, right? You have to keep your athletes safe. but we all this all rolls up into the fan. What is the, what does that consumer end, end up wanting the most and how are you servicing them?
And if you stay on your old business model, which is making everyone at the time, rich, You may not be able to service them in the future, which could lead to, to declines in revenue. And you can just look at, you know, FIFA or, or an international property. they're all investing in, in their immersive media strategies.
We call it. How do you, how do you keep your fans, you know, give them social accessible, interactive ways to consume, share, create content other than just like streaming a broadcast, like they're investing in that like interactivity, and new forms of, content, et cetera. So those proactive are the ones that we obviously love to work with the most.
Yeah. And, and I guess, I want to click in on one point that you said there, that was so great. Cause I say this all the time that ML, bam couldn't have come out of anybody, but baseball, they realized that they had so many games that fans were just not engaging with. It's almost like you have to innovate by necessity.
Whereas the NFL that has, you know, a set number of games or the NBA that already had their partnerships could couldn't have, and wouldn't have put the investment forward to create something like BAMTech. And now BAMTech is, you know, as big as it is, and it's servicing all the other clients, but, but your point is spot on there, which is you have to think about how the shifting needs of the fans are going to prompt different properties for innovation, you know, perhaps before other ones.
Yeah. And I'd say in this pandemic, there couldn't be a better time to think about that too. Out of necessity. If fans aren't in the stands, well, there goes your ticket sales. So suddenly my, my media strategy has to be insane. Because there's thinking about how many properties are gonna like all launch in September, September is the date or January.
And now suddenly there's you go from zero sports to a thousand options. and how do you find those? How do they, how do you stand out? How do you differentiate? how do you shift your investment today to again, to capture those fans tomorrow?
And there's a lot of. I think there's a lot of startup leaks, thinking about like drone racing league or, you know, women's sports, I think absolutely has this opportunity. If say like Kevin Duran, you mentioned like, what if there was a league that was 90% shoulder content, 90% get to know the athlete, the reality star, which is again, if, if fluid fans care about the athletes more than leagues and maybe 10% games, like w.
Would you watch that maybe you would, because you actually care about the personalities behind the mask, more than the, the what's going on on the field. Like, so all these different, again, shifting or changes of behavior during this pandemic, I think there's going to be like a massive shift in what's going on and who's going to win at the end of the day when we kind of come out of this.
So it's a great time to innovate, great time to do things differently instead of cutting back. Which is know what a lot of leagues are forced to do right now. I would say double down on the areas where you think you could, gain an advantage. When we, when we come out of this,
who do you, who do you guys all think will come out of this? Who are you betting on?
I think, well, I think sports in general is just. going to have a huge boom. sports has always been the unifying thing, especially in America. Right. And that's another thing that's been so odd about this pandemic is our country. Hasn't had sports to unite us. I mean, think about everything from whether it was like nine 11, hurricane Sandy, all, any, any disaster that our country has experienced, always been like sports that brought people back together.
And I think that's going to happen again. It's just been. challenging not just sportsmen, but for everyone like to not have that. I think that's also why the li like the opportunity, the leaks, see to get back into it. And what I'm wondering if you would agree with that?
Yeah. And, you know, once they can gain my trust to go back into a venue, I mean, how wonderful it'd be when we can actually go into a venue, feel safe and feel that like, You know, humanity, which you get, you only get at concerts and sports events and things where, you know, those large volume of people.
I think sports is in a position to absolutely heal the nation, heal the world. That's why I'm excited for Tokyo 20, 21. but can we get there in time? Right? Can we, can we, be in a place where, you know, I walk in with my phone contact list, maybe you're scanning my face. It's a digital ticket from my, my face.
You know, I don't have to go
scan my temperature.
No, honestly like that technology already exists. It's just a matter of, are we willing to give up some of our privacy, in return for, , safety right now? Or are we, or that personalization? I always say I like IPA. I know I don't have to, I go right to my seat.
You order my, you know, my. My hamburger and my IPA, and I'm ready to go out. I don't have to get out and miss a second of the action or Santa Ana line anymore. , technology enables all that. So again, it's, it's not that you need it. It's more, , you need it to be safe now. Not to just engage with fans.
One of the things we were just saying is there's just too much money on the line for sports not to come back. But on the flip side of that one thing, I think people don't realize because of all the dollars they see with sports, whether it's because they're spending money by going to games or they see contracts or media agreements and all the money that's involved is actually within the business of sports.
It can be very challenging because leagues and teams, they're used to cashing checks. They're not used to writing them to anyone but players. So what's that been like for you at sports innovation lab and. You know, how have you modeled it or had breakthroughs when it comes to revenue and getting those groups that again, aren't necessarily used to writing checks.
So used to just, Oh, okay. Well, we'll give you a, you can put our logo on your website, you know, stuff like that. Right. It's like negotiating in these things that aren't very real. what's been a breakthrough for you guys over at sports innovation lab.
Well, we've taken the approach as a company, , that we want to help. So we've started to create more. , these webinars asked me anything. So we started a, , a global Slack community for free. , if you go onto our website sports, icloud.com, you can sign up for our research platform, , for, for no charge, just sort of a custom, a way to understand the market there's.
So we have a lot of different assets that we're, we're pushing out into the, , sports industry to, to help at this time of need. We're not looking. For anything other than to be a thought leader, to bring the thought leaders that are part of our network, part of our leadership boards, a particular, , to bring their voice out, , so that, so that people can learn from them and understand what's going on in the market.
So our job is a facilitator more than anything right now, in my opinion, , to enable best practices, best companies, best people to have that platform to talk and to allow that communication, which is so essential right now. To doing business and to understanding, , kind of the, the temperature. , so our again position right now is, is what are the ways that we can enable and support the sports community as they're weathering the storm, knowing that look we're thought leaders, we're going to continue to push research and help you weather this storm.
And we'll be here when you're able to write a check again. But your question is a really good one because when we started particularly on the team and league side, the property side, it's like. Well, you can use our logo if we do business with you. I'm like, no, no, no, no, no, no. Wherever you
you ever dealt with a research company, a real market research, like, you know, in other industry, that's the thing that shocked me when I started this company, it shocked me.
We don't have this research. We don't have a company like ours in the entire space. Yes. Nielsen's do fan metrics. Like there's companies that offer different kinds of research, but what we do and truly understanding the market, there's literally no one else that does this. , and so, but it exists for every other industry.
You know, where there's big dollars at stake and I'm like that can't be possible. There's no way that no, one's done this before. Like Josh, like why wouldn't an industry with this billions of dollars at stake, like have a sports innovation lab. And, and so that's, again, part of the reason we started it was just, you know, there's a need for it.
Yeah, I think part of that is also the coming from like the industry, being a consumer of industry publications, there's certainly been a boom in the last half decade of, media content that's out there, whether it's like SPJ or sport techie, or even like events like Sloan, MIT and hashtag sports.
And it, there is a ton of content that's out there. Now, obviously the quality you can speak to better than most. How do you believe, or how do you try to get sports eyelash to stand out when there is this increasing amount of content and yet somehow a shockingly lacking amount of research?
yeah. Great question. , so we're not a media company. So we're not competing with the sports business journals of the world. We're not an events company. Although we had put on the CES show on behalf of CES, the sports zone, the past three years, they brought us in because they said this space is blowing up and we need a research company that's independent.
To actually facilitate conversations, bring in the right speakers. , so our job, again, as a, as an independent third party research company is to create data tools, strategy for our clients. If they really want to understand the market right. Other than. Have an editorial piece here and there, or put it on event where we invite speakers to just say whatever they want.
And our job is to just, you know, make sure people are on stage. No, our job is to again, objectively rank the market objectively have an opinion based on data and analysis and not, some pay to play model. So I'm very proud of that within the context of sports innovation lab, our power play index is a fantastic, if you haven't.
We just did a webinar on it. If for any listener wants to hear about that, we'll have it on our website or maybe you guys can share it. , I'm super proud of it. We've been thinking about this and building the data to support it for four years. And it's a very simple way to understand the market. It's not influenced by, you know, Pepsi's our sponsor and we're ranking brands, and we're going to put them at the top, which you see all the time in sports history.
It's one of the reasons I started this company. Say, well, how do I know who to work with? If I'm again, chief strategy officer of the Olympic bid, and we're going to have to start bringing partners in and thinking about why, if I don't actually understand technology, it's easy to be mystified by fancy marketing or mystified by a couple of big partnerships.
when those partnerships. Could be facilitated by a sponsorship, not actually what the right technology is. , so we're very adamant on this objective third party where we're facilitating the right information for the leaders in the market and, and the network and everything that comes with that. , and again, so I don't, I still don't see us as a competitor.
If you pull back the layers to how we're different, it's that there is no pay to play, that we have data. You have a team of research analysts looking at the market every single day, lots of smart people are covering. I love reading all these articles and attending these events. And, but I always have to come in with a grain of skepticism, , understanding like where is that coming from?
And, and, , , you know, what can we unearth? That's different than what's already out there.
well, unfortunately the, the business model of media today, especially ad supported media has been, you know, sponsored content and, that
That's how it works.
into everything I will say for you guys, your business model being quite a bit different. I am curious, especially given the I'm guessing overhead that goes into conducting this research and building these technology platforms.
Have you gone out and raised outside capital to stand this up or has it all been self-funded today?
yeah, we've done, some, seed capital private investors. so we did a group. , private, we haven't done anything public. haven't done a series a, that could be something we look at in the future. , right now , we've been able to use the capital that we've raised internally, , to facilitate the growth of the company.
So, , you know, it depends honestly, on how quickly we want to sprint. , right now, , we're super happy with, again, the, the ability to. , to command the market and, and be differentiated. , , but you know, time will tell if we decide to go down that other path, you know, the, the strings attached with going series a , , and you know, in a, in a way it has allowed me as the CEO, to look at what's needed and not be under the pressure to just.
Hit a number every quarter. , obviously that's important for my investors. I want to do that on their behalf. , but by having that flexibility, we're really still looking at like, where's the biggest opportunity to serve the market where the biggest needs and what is, how can we match our data and services to match those needs?
well, we're, we're kind of over time already, but just want to wrap with a couple of questions. We ask all our guests and the first one is what advice would you give the younger version of yourself as it relates to the journey from athlete to entrepreneur?
I would have more coffees with people in the industry. I, as a younger person, didn't realize I was very, , entrepreneurial. I, I kinda, I ran my own hockey schools. I managed my own brand at times. It was, you know, working for, you know, XYZ, but I didn't do enough just like. Get to know people while I was on top.
Right. And then I realized that right when I retired, , not that people wouldn't open the door and have a cup of coffee with me, but man, I missed out on all those years where I could have just been accumulating that Rolodex of people that I got to know, they got to know me and were there to support me when I, when I needed to call on them.
, and so I would have had more, more coffees, more, , Yeah, not beer at the time. I, you know, you're training. So cup of cup of coffee.
And I have to ask is we can cut this if you want, but, , you wouldn't have told yourself to take the job offer from Trump after the apprentice in 2006.
No, you know, what's crazy with that. My, even my father told me to take that job. Everyone was like, you're crazy not to work for Trump. He wanted me to work with his kids downtown New York. Is before he's running for president. , and so, and I actually went to high school with Ivanka. So I already knew her from, from my Choate Rosemary hall, my or prep school.
So I had all, you know, all the cards are laid out. I'd be making a boatload of money, blah, blah, blah. And, , and I looked at all of his properties. I said, well, maybe the golf, maybe I could run him one of his golf courses or he had a foundation. I'm sure you've heard about the foundation, how that wasn't, invested in properly, but.
But I had to follow like my heart and by following my heart, I'm super proud of this. I went back to my fourth Olympics. I got elected on the IOC. It opened up a million different doors. I mean, I was at the Prince of Monaco's wedding. Who's an IOC member. Like I've done like. Insane things. I was, you know, I go to Buckingham palace and meet the queen and, you know, I've been able to go back to business school.
And I just, I look back at that one decision. when the world was telling me go work for this guy named Donald Trump, because he's got a flashy name, he's going to pay a lot of money. And I was like, no, I need to play hockey. One more Olympics. , anyway, so follow your heart is my advice in, and don't follow the money.
The money will come though. Believe me.
Yeah, no, that's a, that's great. I mean, even looking back on it, it seems like the, the path that you ended up going down, , you know, you're, you're pretty content with, I guess, looking forward now. What are you most excited about? Both when it comes to sports I lab and then also for you personally.
Yeah. So I'm really excited, , at the growth of my company and what we're able to do in a short period of time. And, and really we're just getting started. , we've had to, Accumulate data accumulate an understanding of the market. And now we're able to actualize on that really, understand it in a way that no one else can.
so we're in a position to really lead and I think there's never been a more needed time to have that thought leadership than today. It's so critical for our industry to make the right decisions and really, , bring sports back. , in a thoughtful way, , in a safe way and in a way that, you know, we're able to make changes now that we won't be able to make maybe for decades to come.
So again, I'm really excited about the leadership position my company can take, , right now and, and with our data tools and services. , personally, I get, I just like you guys, like having guests on and just following this industry, I get to interview. Talk to work with clients across brands, properties, agencies, athletes, , investors, where we literally service the entire industry.
And again, being the nerdy learner that, you know, growth mindset, like I get to learn from all these amazing people that I consider my friends now. , and that to me, in the back of my head, I'm like, man, one day I want to start the ultimate sports property. I don't know what it looks like. I don't know where it'll be, what it'll be, what sport, what gender, but like, can you imagine literally cherry picking best practices of venues, media, sports, you know, like just the whole ecosystem in my hand, I'm like, that's what I want to do on day is like, start something.
That's gonna fucking crush it.
I love that. I love that. Look, you've clearly got so much enthusiasm for this ecosystem. And as somebody who, you know, played in it, worked in it from the IOC side and now is servicing all, you know, the, the sort of different nodes of the ecosystem. I think you are so well placed to understand. What the fans need.
And so that, you know, one day when you go start a sports property, you'll know exactly how to address those issues, that the brands of today aren't doing. So we are incredibly excited for you. We can't wait to see all the great stuff that comes out of sports. I lab. We just want to thank you so much for joining us on the game plan today.
My absolute pleasure, Tim Jay, for having me, what you guys are doing is great too. It's there's such a, , a void of telling athlete stories and giving them the visibility to make their transition be successful. , It's a, it's bigger than your viewers even know. , and so I want to commend you guys for what you're doing, because there's, there's absolutely, , a necessity to, to bring light on, on these athletes and give them the ability to share their story, to inspire others.
So thank you for what you're doing and thanks for having me on.
We appreciate you
That's awesome. Thanks
Thank you so much.
At the end of every episode, Jay and I like to recap what we heard and share our own thoughts on the companies, our guests, our building, we call this segment, our partner meeting the term we borrow from the meetings we have when evaluating investment opportunities at our respective funds. So Jay, it was fun to go deep on sports innovation lab with Angelo Ruggiero.
What did you take away from the conversation?
Yeah. One of the biggest things that I'm glad we touched on with her, Tim was the difference between a media firm and a media property and a research firm, because I think coming into it, you know, we are, our guests could also be forgiven for thinking that, Hey, there are plenty of trade publications out there, and there are plenty of folks that are covering.
The business of sports. And I'm sure a lot of executives myself included when, when I was at the NFL, , read these things daily, right? They're on these newsletters are checking them religiously. And a lot of them have a ton of great content about how fans are responding to new league and brand partner initiatives.
But I think taking it from a research perspective is, you know, really taking it one step further and really not only informing like what is happening. But also what should happen, right? What, what fans actually want to see? It's not reactive. It's proactive. So that was actually really interesting to me where I'm thinking back to my days on the league side.
And then even after looking at it as an investor, as we're trying to assess interesting properties that are coming our way, understanding what the customer actually wants. Somebody who's got a finger on the pulse of that. I think that's pretty powerful.
Yeah. And then being able to go deep and actually service specific clients for their specific needs because. The information is out there. And I kind of hit on this a little bit when I was talking about how fragmented the whole space is, but unless you have like a team of experts that know how to sift through that information, then also have the time to go out and do diligence on all.
Like, let's say, you're looking for a better solution to collect player data, like, okay, I have to go out and have to talk to each of those companies individually. At first I have to identify like who the leading companies are. It's just. The the times, the amount of times I've seen leagues and other groups and teams like try to reinvent the wheel on looking at all that stuff.
It's like every single time falling into that. And it's, I wouldn't even call it a trap. It's just that there has not been a solution out there to help them sift through all of that. You know, you have like, BCG who can come in and help with your positioning and maybe some like restructuring organizationally, or you can hit on like a Deloitte or a big four and figure out how to, make things as efficiently, as efficient as possible from like a financial and accounting perspective.
But there hasn't been a group. Historically, that's been like, we know everything about the solutions that are out there and also like where things are headed and here it is for you synthesize. And then also here's what's best for you.
right. Well, the problem, I think Tim is that the industry itself is so insular and it has been for such a long time. I mean, she's talking about how technology is disrupting, what it means to be a fan. I mean, I think technology is also disrupting what it means to work in sports. Right. And I know that we didn't really get into this with her, but.
A decade ago or, you know, even whatever, 2012, when, when I started working at the NFL, there were only a certain number of jobs that you could have. If you wanted to work in sports, you work for the league, you worked for a brand like Nike. Maybe you worked on the agency side to service these brand partners.
And sure. There's, there's a couple of, you know, ESPN and media properties that you can be at now to work in sports. There are so many different opportunities for you. Research, I think being one clear part of it. So she's coming in as somebody who is an athlete understands the athlete perspective coming in as somebody who has worked in the IOC understands the league or organizer perspective.
And then now is working with Intel and sort of these broader brands that maybe aren't necessarily endemic to sports, but have a tremendous amount of interest in trying to find the money. That is at stake, both from, you know, as an advertising and sponsor, but also as a vendor and a provider to these different folks.
So it's like, Hey, it's so cool. Because I think we've talked to people that come from each of those different worlds, but then to really see somebody who comes from all three of them and then says like, At the end of it, she was telling me she's like, I want to bring all that together and create maybe a brand new property that doesn't have to deal with the sins of the past.
And doesn't have to deal with some of the entrenched interests that you have. I mean, she talked about it with the NFL and we sort of like bonded over that, which is like, why do leagues move so slowly? And the reason they move so slowly is that like, they don't have an incentive to change. Money is good.
Everything is rising. All the KPIs are up until they're not.
Right. And if we're making $16 billion in our media rights deal like comparatively, are we really gonna move the needle on finding like a better solution for any. Any given one thing. And also like each team wants to do things their own way and they have got their own relationships that they want to serve.
And they're determined determine like what kind of money they want to put into their own resources. And so I think you're right, that a lot of the change is driven by technology, but it also just ties back to like, Okay, well, because of technology, sports is the only thing where live rights have retained value.
So then, okay. The team values have gone way up and since the team values went way up then, Oh, you know, the old guard of owners sold and realized the earnings from, from the value increases of their teams. And you have new younger people oftentimes like tied to hedge funds or taking a private equity type mindset.
Okay. How can I extract as much possible value out of this? And that comes with. A playbook. That's like, Oh, I'm actually going to invest capital into this so that I can do more. And that's the other thing that I think has changed to make something like sports innovation lab viable is to the point of thinking too, about like historically sports teams and leagues were never the ones.
Writing checks, arrows always cashing checks. Well, now there's a new mindset. That's like, no, actually we do want to invest. We do want to write checks. We do want to maximize our return on this asset that we've spent so much money investing into. And so I think that's really another place or reason why a sports innovation lab can exist.
I love that point. I love that point. It's it's coming back to the idea of like NFL teams used to be this heirloom asset. That would get passed down from father to son. And then by the third generation, you'd realize that nobody's actually invested in the stadium or investing in growing the fan base and
Shout out, shout out to all the bears fans out there as, as the family gets bigger and bigger and they invest less and less into the team.
Right. And you kind of come back and realize, listen, that that's, that's a shot that I think our fans that know that you're a Packers fan are gonna remember. So, what I will say to him is that, that I think one of the biggest shifts and you touched on it is actually it's being driven from a league side.
Right? Like we always talk about you and I off Mike that like. NFL is really old money, MBAs and new money. Right? You talked about these hedge fund guys, these VCs that are coming in the NBA and they're investing in digital and they're investing in their players, they're investing all these different opportunities.
And the NFL is still the biggest media property comparatively to sort of all the other leagues and historically hasn't. And I think now they're coming around to doing it. And we touched on it in the, in the conversation that like MLB and ML, bam, which has become this like crown jewel property in the world of sports.
It was like, it came out of a necessity because imagine a world today, imagine baseball today in a world where BAMTech doesn't exist. And like baseball probably doesn't exist in, in the popularity that it currently has. So this idea of like, forward-looking, this almost has to come from there being new blood in the league, there being new owners in the league that recognize the problem as fans.
And are not just happy to sit there and collect a paycheck, but again, who the hell are we to tell billionaires how to spend their money?
Right. Yeah. I mean, I love BAMTech as an example, too. It's also like, One of the very few, like sports specific companies that ever realized, , like a venture type exit, but it only took, you know, 20 years and $60 million of dedicated capital from a group of owners. So even that's not something you can necessarily point to as a startup to say like, Oh yeah, we're going to follow the path of Advantix.
Okay. So this is a 20 year
do you think, do you think it's a mentality issue, do you think in the sports world, because everybody is so year to year season to season that from like a mentality standpoint, folks, aren't patient enough to say, like, this is a 10 year investment that we're making. It's going to suck for four years and then we're going to realize the gains at the end of it.
Do you just think that like the folks that are behind this don't think in longterm ways.
well, maybe that's part of it, but I actually think it has more to do with the fact that there's just not enough alignment. Across all the parties. And so Amtech was great because every single team was going to have experienced the upset and they were all in it together. They all invested in it together.
And you know, I think NFL is trying to do that a little bit with, , NFL 32. , But that's the key part and that's the thing, you know, I think sports, innovation left trying to do, but that was also a thing, especially with when I ran the global sports venture studio, that was the idea is like, what can happen if we all truly collaborate and come in on something together because we aren't competing against each other at the macro level, we're competing for the attention of the consumer against.
Other things like social media, , or, or Fortnite, you know, video games, whatever. And so to me, that's the key thing is like, how do you bring the groups together? And the only ones that can do that are the leaves, but we all know, I mean, are you, and I especially know like teams have. A love, hate relationship with the leagues and the types of things you hear from teams as it relates to like a directive from the league office on like, here's the new plan, here's the new thing we should use for digital.
Like, it's like, okay, we got it from your thanks guys. But then there's other teams too that are like, Oh yeah, like they'll eat that up and they'll take whatever they can get. So it's also just this really broad spectrum of expertise and interest where. Where some are going to lean in and need that support from the league.
And others are like, no, we have that whole function built out.
, my old colleague at the NFL used to describe it like office hours and being a TA at office hours. He was like, we have 32 teams. There are the straight a students that come in every week. And they're just trying to figure out how they optimize the revenue from every seat. And he goes, then there is the, you know, DNF students that are just trying to figure out how they get fans into the stadium and maybe how do they sell local sponsorship?
I think it goes, then there's the 22 teams in the middle that I don't hear from, I hear from day one. And I hear from them after the super bowl and that's it. And you're absolutely right. It's like, These, these companies, these teams that are companies that are so used to operating independently, to get all of them rowing in the same direction, it needs a major shock to the system.
And I think for MLB that major shock to the system was probably looking at their declining ratings. And hopefully, you know, if there's a silver lining that comes out of COVID and realizing how these teams are situated in a, in, in a. A environment like this, maybe that's a big enough shock to the system to get some of these teams operating cohesively.
Well, it certainly always ties back to ratings because again, the media rights deal is everything. And so even if one through 32, the way one operates is completely different than 32. Like the. The difference in how much the needle is moved is still very small because they're all still part of the same media rights deal.
And so, like, it's not, there's not like a tremendous incentivization 1432 to
there's plenty of local. There's plenty of local revenue, Tim. There's plenty of local revenue that even the small market teams just. Don't capitalize on well enough because either they haven't invested in their own staff. Like they don't have a local sponsorship head that knows all of the great local companies to like come be sponsors.
And that would be stuff that like the leagues can help you with, but you have to like go and ask for the help, right. The leagues are there to help you with it. But if you're not going to ask, they don't even know.
That's fair. Specific to like sponsorship and ticketing revenue. That can be significant. I think the last thing I want to end on and then I'll throw it back to you. If you have any other thoughts is. That one thing, a lot of teams, especially in the NBA have really doubled down on, is developing like the surrounding area of their arena experience and like really investing into it as like a real estate play.
But it's going to be interesting to see how that develops and if there's a pull back on that, because right now all of those properties are completely empty. Right. , so like the bucks had excellent job with that and they had a really good deal. When they bought the team with the state or with the city of Milwaukee to be able to acquire so much land, , basically for free.
And, you know, so that was like a big thing for them was like, Oh, how can we optimize that real estate as an entity in addition to the team. And so, and then, so they built out the programming for that, but right now nobody's out, nobody can be out. And so that real estate is not being used.
Yeah, Tim, I think, you know what we're going to realize in the world of sports overall, and this sort of ties back to where we left it with Angela was that for the world of sports, there's going to be a new normal. And really being able to capitalize on that is going to come from being forward, looking willing to make investments and then understanding what the fans and the customers actually want.
And so, you know, hopefully that means for Angela in the sports I lab that, , there's going to be plenty of work to go around, but we're excited to see where she goes with that. And I just want to thank you so much for joining me on this edition of the partner meeting.
Well, that's it for this week's episode of the game plan with Jacob pore and Tim cot as always thanks so much for listening. It was so great to speak to hockey hall of Famer. Angela Ruggero make sure you follow Angela and the sports innovation lab across social media. You can also subscribe to her podcast, the fluid fan.
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