With technology on the rise in all aspects of life, in sports it could not be any less. The past decade has witnessed an increased introduction of technology in the industry, especially in regard to the world’s biggest sport: football. From real-time apps that allow communication between both pros and fans to personalised interactive mirrors that help monitor physical and mental well-being, there are no limits as to what new technology will emerge next in this peaking market.
SportsTech has not only gained an impulse when it comes to revolutionary and innovative ideas, but it has also received an important deal of investment, with venture capitalists understanding that there is a hole to be filled amongst two of the world’s most influential industries.
Despite this market being on the rise for some time, if we look back at just 8 years ago, less than one billion dollars were being invested in this area of technology. However, taking a look at the data collected from 2021, almost $2 billion was invested in Europe alone, the continent which has made the smallest expenditure in this field over the past years. On the other hand, North America takes a pole position with an astonishing $6.5 billion of finance in SportsTech in 2021, up by 161% in contrast to the year prior. Asia and those countries in the Pacific have also made a statement of backing emerging companies, with $3.2 billion throughout last year.
Various cities throughout the globe have emerged as SportsTech ‘hotspots’, acting as the Silcon Valley of this new landscape. With three of them spread across the United States in San Francisco, Jacksonville, and New York, both Asia and Europe also have their particular SportsTech capitals in Paris and Mumbai, with major revenue for both continents being condensed in these two cities.
Adapting to new fan & cultural behaviours in sports
There is always a reason behind every phenomenon, so why has Sportstech boomed in recent years? With the world becoming gradually more digitalised, the sports industry has had no option but to follow the trend or get left behind. Whether it be an introduction to the Metaverse, NFTs, cryptocurrency, or simply digitalising the fan experience and engagement, the world of sports has quickly adapted to keep up with the changing tides.
Another influential factor in the rapid growth of SportsTech companies was COVID-19 and the realisation of how truly immersed we are in the digital era. Almost everything that could be done face-to-face could also be done virtually, which became the framework for many start-up companies and new ideas. New technologies to monitor athlete progress during lockdown emerged, and the halt in everyday life allowed for new ideas to arise in the minds of many entrepreneurs.
Javier Sobrino, Partner at Aser Ventures probably defined it best during Football Innovation Forum:
“Clubs need to understand the change in fan behaviours, then look into which technology will adapt best to them”
In today’s post, we want to highlight the examples of three SportsTech businesses that are shaping the future of the football industry.
Gloria: Changing football through software
Gloria is a global app that will allow football fans all over the world to network as well as offer a new possibility of scouting via video. The start-up was co-founded by Victoire Cogevina Reynal, a real game-changer in the industry who has not only made a name for herself by being part of only 2% of companies in Silicon Valley run by women, but also by being an important advocate for women’s football and all-round equality in sports. Victoire recently spoke to World Football Summit on how software technology is changing football.
This start-up has been extremely successful in obtaining funding, and has been supported by well-known American internet entrepreneur and investor, Alexis Ohanian’s company, Seven Seven Six, among others, acquiring an initial $3 million over two funding rounds from 2019 onwards.
Victoire will join us for WFS Europe and will help the community understand how software is key to developing the future of the beautiful game and, why the future belongs to women, a market of 3 billion potential fans.
"When built intentionally, these online communities are not only as real, but actually more real than offline ones." @alexisohanian @espn @fernandopalomo pic.twitter.com/Jfdgc3ERKZ
— 7️⃣7️⃣6️⃣ (@sevensevensix) March 26, 2021
OneFootball: On a mission to dominate in web 3.0
OneFootball is a German-based football-focused company, founded in 2008, which allows users to access scores and stats in real-time of over 200 different sporting leagues across the globe, offered in 12 different languages. In recent years they have also acquired the rights to broadcast specific football fixtures in various countries, stating that this “increases audience reach and harness powerful data insights to gain a deeper understanding of fan engagement”.
OneFootball has raised steady funding throughout the years, but it is worth highlighting the $300 million that they obtained back in April in a Series D round of funding in their goals to create new digital experiences for fans through blockchain within their company, taking them from Web2 to Web3. This important investment was led by Liberty City Ventures, with the collaboration of other well-known venture capital companies such as Aminoca Brands, who have also invested in Dapper Labs which recently partnered with LaLiga.
Many top-tier football clubs, such as Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Paris Saint Germain among many others, have also become shareholders in the company. In 2021, OneFootball was on the list of Top 5 European SportsTech companies in regard to funding.
Pixellot: Changing sports around the world with Artificial Intelligence
Founded in 2014, Pixellot revolutionized the sports world by devising automated production that enables high-quality video coverage at a fraction of the cost. Using AI, machine learning, camera arrays, software and cloud computing, Pixellot solutions deliver dynamic coverage of the game flow by focusing on the relevant action happening on the field or court.
In June of this year, Pixellot received a new round of funding worth $161 million, lead primarily by PSG Equity Firm, and the company intends to use the funds to support global market expansion and to enhance its video, analytics and highlights value proposition to fans, athletes and coaches at all levels.
Is your SportsTech business ready to shine in front of the industry?
Gloria, OneFootball, and Pixellot are three businesses that stand out for their innovative approach to changing the football industry through technology, although there are countless others.
Is yours one of those businesses? At World Football Summit we recognise game-changing initiatives through our WFS Awards.
Is your project ready to shine in front of the entire industry? Then make sure you apply before the August 10th deadline through our website!
This insight features in the latest edition of WFS Digest, our insider’s guide to the latest and most relevant thoughts and practices from within the football industry. You can subscribe to WFS Digest HERE.