Comcast NBCUniversal Accelerator Program Focusing On Sports Technology Startups

In January 2020, Comcast Corp. has announced that it is launching a program for startups focused on sports technology. The idea was for the telecoms giant to acquire small stakes in promising companies at an early stage and give them capital and access to high-level executives to help them hone their business plans.

Two months later, when the coronavirus pandemic began and the sports world closed, Comcast executives wondered if there would ever be this initiative. But this week, almost two years later, Comcast welcomes second-class startups to a program officially called Comcast NBCUniversal SportsTech Accelerator. The program is targeted at companies in the following areas: media and entertainment; fan / player interaction; athlete / player performance; team and coach successes; venue and innovation events; fantasy sports and betting; e-sports; and sports.

“At the time (after the pandemic) it was like, ‘My God, what do we do now?'” Said Jenna Curat, head of the accelerator program and vice president of startup partnerships at Comcast. “But really the need for innovation and the ability to do things differently has changed the way we do it.”

Indeed, the pandemic has actually accelerated the growth of technology in sport as leagues, teams and investors re-evaluate their business and seek innovative ways more effectively. Comcast’s first SportsTech accelerator started in February 2021 with 10 startups and was made virtually due to a pandemic.

This year’s program is similar to the fact that it has 10 startups and lasts 12 weeks. But while most programs and sessions will be held virtually, participants will gather in person for a few days in late March and early April in Texas and watch behind the scenes of the NASCAR race on the America’s track. in Austin, PGA Tour’s Valero Texas Open in San Antonio and WrestleMania 38 in Dallas.

A total of 811 startups, which have worked with hundreds of startups since its inception in 2013, have applied for this year’s program, which is sponsored and managed by Boomtown, Boulder, Calaria. The board consisted of three Comcast executives and two Boomtown executives selected to attend 10 companies.

Each of the companies receives an investment of $ 50,000, equally divided between Comcast and Boomtown, in exchange for a stake in the business. Over the next 12 weeks, startups will have a special program to help them with business strategy, marketing, finance and other topics.

Each of the startups is assigned an advisor who is the head of a subsidiary of Comcast (NBC Sports, Sky Sports, Golf Channel and Comcast Spectacor, owner of the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team and Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia) or of the PGA Tour, WWE, NASCAR and three Olympic U.S. sports organizations: U.S. skiing and snowboarding, U.S. cycling games, and U.S. swimming.

“$ 50,000 is a very nominal investment in terms of the dollar,” Kurat said. “Actually it’s about communication and access and giving (startups) a deeper understanding of the program and what they will get from it.”

She added, “You’ll see a lot of times when a company comes along and they’ll say,‘ I just need to sort out marketing, ’and then they’ll understand,‘ Oh wait, I thought I was a consumer product, but I better play in white labeling and B2B. “Business to business.” It completely changes your entire marketing strategy, which eventually becomes your marketing plan. Many times they are the core of the program. “

Of last year’s cohort of 10 startups, there have so far been 29 pilot programs in which companies have had the opportunity to test whether their product / innovation is working in real conditions, and five commercial deals in which companies have completed profitable deals. Commercial deals included XiQ, which developed a digital golf cue key and signed a deal with ComN-owned GolfNow booking application, and Eon Media, which struck deals with three U.S. Olympic sports organizations to use the company’s technology to detect logos on the screen. during sporting events and measure the value of such logos and sponsorships.

In monetary terms, the program is not a big investment for Comcast, which generated $ 116.4 billion in revenue last year and is among the top 50 U.S. companies by market capitalization. However, the company believes the program has the potential for bigger payouts in the future or at least give a look at companies that are on the cutting edge of technology.

“One of the most important aspects of why we do this work with startups is to support entrepreneurial thinking in our company,” Kurat said. “When our employees work side by side with an entrepreneur, this enthusiasm and thinking constantly challenges assumptions, trials, experiments, iterations, it really makes us much more enterprising, which is not easy to do for a company of our size.”

Companies selected to participate in this year’s SportsTech Accelerator:

· BookSeats.com, which allows people to book flights, hotels and event tickets;

· HeadVantage, which develops a camera that shows the athlete’s vantage point;

· Ice Cream Social, a social networking platform;

· LetzChat; a service that translates phone calls, text messages and other interactions with customers into another language;

· Local Sports Network, a digital media campaign for high school;

· Meetlete, a platform through which fans can meet their favorite athletes;

· MoneyLine, a fantasy sports app;

· Movrs, an artificial intelligence-based platform that tracks the movement of athletes;

· Tiptap, a wireless receiver that allows people to make payments and donate money; and

· Uru Sports, a professional social networking platform for athletes.

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