I attended this week the first meeting of a group focused on sports venture capital. The attendees included representatives from the major sports leagues, venture capitalists and a number of initial stage companies with some technology or other services applicable to the sports industry.
MLB and NFL digital media execs gave a fascinating presentation on how those leagues use digital media to interact with and gain new fans, and what they look for when considering their own investments and other partnerships with sports technology companies.
The major sports leagues clearly see potential financial benefits from investing in initial stage technology companies, at least in part because social media is integral to their business models, as well as owning their own content. With the importance of social media for teams and leagues in heightening the fan experience (and increasing revenues), the proliferation of sports start-ups focused on technology and social media is likely to continue and teams and leagues are likely to continue to invest their own funds in these ventures. Technology companies like Apple and Google have been rumored to be bidders for sports media rights such as the English Premier League soccer.
The convergence of technology and sports, and start-up ventures, particularly social media companies, is a trend to watch.