This article was written by Rodney Rapson, PlaySight’s Head of European Sales & Operations.
In 2014, Base Tennis became the first “Smart club” in Europe to install PlaySight. People in our tennis community questioned what we were doing. When I first saw PlaySight in action, the company had only two systems installed worldwide, and the closest one to us was at the Queens Club in London. I flew there with my business partner, and knew within seconds that this product would change the way we teach the sport of tennis.
Fast forward four years and “digitalization” is changing our lives even more. When was the last time you used a telephone book as a search directory, or opened a physical map when trying to get to your next destination? How about the last time you booked a hotel or restaurant, or anything without researching it online first? Adaption and adoption of digitalization is happening right in front of our very eyes, and we should understand the implications it has on all of us. So buckle up, because the rate and speed of change is only increasing.
TV was always king of media consumption…not anymore
These days, we all consume more media on our mobile devices rather than television – especially those under the age of 30. Generations Y and Z are changing the game, not only for media companies but for any business vying for any amount of attention for their products. Attention is the only true commodity for companies, brands and advertisers, and it is more fractured and fragmented than ever before. According to Magna, digital ad spend beat TV ad spend by a whopping $209 billion to $178 billion in 2017. The gap will only continue to increase, as TV is dethroned by its more attractive, agile and intelligent “digital” younger sibling.
Give the crowd what they want
I recently heard some “Z” boys, discussing an upcoming boxing match. I heard numbers being thrown around like “1.6 million people watched live, 20 million views total and millions in revenue.” I asked which professional match they were talking about and was expecting to hear names like Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Anthony Joshua or even Conor McGregor. “No Rod, these are two YouTube stars who had a beef and organized a boxing match to settle it.” If you are naïve to think that this was a one off, think again. Early this year, the same YouTube star KSI, had more beef with another YouTuber Logan Paul, and the two decided to box their differences out. Reportedly KSI makes up to £250,000 from advertising revenue on his videos, and that influencer marketers believe he can pull in something in the region of £75,000 for a product endorsement on social media. KSI is also the director of three companies valued at £1.7 million.
This story demonstrates what digitalization has given to today’s consumer: access to a platform to distribute what they want, when they want. Market demand drives interest, and converting the unconventional to the conventional or creating a buzz is ever easier in our connected society.
Shift in our work meetings
From being the first PlaySight ‘Smart club’ in Europe in 2014, to then going on to work for this exciting start-up company, I have seen this dramantic shift first-hand. In the early years, my meetings were predominantly with coaches and analysts who were looking to improve their training facilities or methods. Today, the majority of our meetings will come from the media and telecommunications sector. These companies are starting to realize the value of lower league sports, and how/where people are wanting to view this content.
How does PlaySight fit into this space? Our technology not only provides important insights and tools for coach and player development, it can also push content to any platform that our client desires. The evolution of our technology means that for leagues or media companies who want to film a lower league game of any sport, they do not need to send a production team on site. They can simply use PlaySight’s Smart cameras and the viewers have the experience that they are watching a high quality broadcast, which is fully automated.
The combination of great Innovation and digitalization means that leagues, clubs and fans can have more access and reach. I could be sitting on the sofa in Australia, watching my local team in Germany live through my mobile device. These possibilities of reach, and viewers, is gaining traction in the market, and while the top leagues acquisition rights are bought for billions of dollars each year, there are many leagues or sectors, where these rights are undervalued and up for grabs. And the race is on to acquire them.
But …. There’s a snag
As fast we are moving, and continuously innovating, we can only push so far from our side and need governments to act quickly. In Germany, network speed is an issue (the home of Europe’s first Smart club has an upload speed of 5mb/s). In layman’s terms, it is the equivalent of peddling a bike while your competitors are all driving Ferraris. One of my colleagues in the US told me that they are regularly getting upload speeds of 1000 mb/s, and our neighbours in Switzerland, where we have numerous installations, have mostly fiberoptic cabling laid.
It is only a matter of time until there is high quality broadcast live streaming, multi-angle video, and data/analytics generated from every basketball court, soccer pitch, hockey rink and sports facility in the world. I believe that PlaySight is well-positioned to be the leader in turning all sports Smart with technology.