Dear Colleague,

February was another busy month in the world of elite sports with the Beijing 2022 winter Olympics, the Super bowl, the beginning of the MLS season and some other key sports events. Two weeks ago we were in Europe trip where we caught up with pro teams, coaches and national teams. The metaverse, NFTs, and cutting edge sports performance technologies were top of mind based on our conversations with sports organizations.

Despite the Russian/Ukraine situation, things are back in full swing. In the world of soccer, the MLS had a great opening weekend. In Europe, Chelsea F.C. owner Roman Abramovich shocked the world when he formally announced he would sell the team last week, asking for £3B. He has allegedly already received several offers. On the transfer front, some reports indicate that Real Madrid could be willing to spend $373M on Erling Haaland to be able to sign him this summer. Also, nearly a year after the initial project rose and fell in a dramatic 48 hours, the European Super League is reportedly preparing to relaunch with changes to the format and the participants. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, UEFA is reportedly moving the Champions League final out of St. Petersburg. Soccer’s governing body in Europe issued a statement saying it “strongly condemns the ongoing Russian military invasion in Ukraine.” Several sports organizations and figures made similar moves.

In the world of pro basketball, the Phoenix Suns are now 53-13 and leading the NBA season. But the Grizzlies are not too far (45-22). The Miami Heat (44-23) are now third, ahead of the Warriors (44-22).

In the world of American Football, the LA Rams won the Super Bowl after beating the Bengals 23-20 last month. The LA Rams now have two Super Bowl wins, with their most recent appearance improving them to 2-3 all time on the stage. The NFL and the NFL players association also agreed to cease daily COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated players. This week, the Broncos also reshaped the AFC West landscape, agreeing to a massive trade with the Seahawks for Russell Wilson. Aaron Rodgers also agreed to a four-year, $200 Million deal with the Packers.

Los Angeles Rams fight back against Cincinnati Bengals to win Super Bowl

Picture: LA Rams (NFL), Super bowl champion.

In the world of pro baseball, the MLBPA and MLB owners seem to be in a dead end right now. Now the good news is that the MLB’s debt reserve funds could cover the loss of a full season, according to a report. The league can draw up to $2 billion from its A-rated MLB Club Trust Securitization and $1.25 billion from its MLB Facility Fund, which holds an A- rating. But right now due to the MLB lockout, communities in Florida and Arizona are now missing out on combined economic activity worth around $1.3 billion due to the delay of spring training.

In the world of pro tennis, Rafael Nadal made history by winning its 21th grand slam at the Australian Open Tennis. Serena Williams also announced last week that its first fund has raised $111 million.

In the NFT/Metaverse/Blockchain space, the Premier League has shortlisted four blockchain firms for its official NFT license, according to the Daily Mail. The report says that English soccer’s top flight is mulling over bids offering returns of between $298M and $589M over four years. The final shortlist is reportedly made up of Sorare, Candy Digital, Dapper Labs and ConsenSys. Arsenal and Manchester City are set to offer fans the chance to meet players as an incentive to purchase their soon-to-be launched range of NFT. Speaking of Manchester City, they also teamed up with Sony to enter the metaverse while the Atlanta Braves became the first MLB team to launch its own metaverse. FC Barcelona also announced its plan to launch its own metaverse and NFTs. MLS and the MLSPA have signed a multiyear partnership with GreenPark Sports, a social gaming company on a mission to bring sports fandom to the metaverse. NASCAR also partnered with the WAX blockchain to launch an NFT collection to celebrate the Daytona 500 race.

Former world No. 1 tennis player Ana Ivanovic and PSG midfielder Marco Verratti are among several athletes to buy virtual islands in The Sandbox for $2.9M. Nike also created an AR metaverse shopping experience with Roblox that combines the physical & virtual worlds. F1 team McLaren Racing also teamed up with Roblox to release the Formula One team’s new MCL36 race car via the McLaren F1 Racing Experience on its metaverse platform. The NBA also unveiled a metaverse coach voiced by Shaquille O’ Neal. The NBA also announced a shoppable All-Star NFT art gallery in Cleveland. Axie Infinity also broke $4 billion in NFT sales as the crypto-gaming metaverse draws in the crowds. Finally Nike sued StockX, who are accused of selling unauthorized images of Nike’s sneakers as NFTs.

In the world AR/VR/MR, Apple is rumored to be working on some AR contact lenses. Some leaked videos hint that Samsung smart glasses might also be in the works. In the world of wearables, Peloton named a new CEO to try to shake things up. Fitbit smartwatches could also soon detect stress.

In the world of sports tech investments, investments reached $760M and were up +15% in February 2022, compared to January 2022. 26% of funding came from NFT startups, down from 80% last month.

Lastly don’t forget to sign up for the “virtual” Sports Biometrics conference that will take place on March 23 & 24, 2022 by clicking on the banner below. It is Free to sign up. We will be speaking there on the latest sports performance trends and our latest vendor survey results (GPS, HR/HRV, AMS..).

As a reminder, we launched our Upside Global platform to bring together our sports, tech & health community of 6,000+ executives under a single web platform. Members include executives from the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, MLB, NCAA, Laliga, English Premiere League, Ligue 1, Bundesliga, Series A, Brazilian soccer league, Olympic teams, Pro rugby, Pro tennis, as well as representatives of startups, brands, VCs, and athletes.

If you are a head athletic trainer, CTO, CMO of a major sports team or league looking to connect with the most innovative startups or connect with your peers to network, or if you are a startup CEO looking to connect with top teams or investors, you can join our Upside community of executives from the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, MLB, NCAA, Laliga, English Premier League, Olympic teams, top VCs, startups (AR, VR, wearables, sleep tech..) and more!

Your opportunity for growth starts now, create your free executive profile today to join our online community and click on “become a member today” as a first step. It is free to join! It only take one minute to create your profile.

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? Top Stories We’re Reading This Month

?Upside: Our key takeaways from our European trip with top clubs, coaches and national teams.

⚡ ? Upside: Injury Risk Assessment Solutions Ecosystem (Key Trends, Vendors, Recommendations to Teams) Analysis

? ? Upside Article: Biofeedback Applications in Sports, by Len Zaichkowsky, PhD, World-Class’ Sports Biofeedback Expert

? Manchester City head to the metaverse with Sony partnership

? Atlanta Braves (MLB) launching Digital Truist Park in the metaverse

?FC Barcelona joins the sports teams turning to the metaverse and NFTs

? Apple’s Contact Lenses Will Complete Its AR/VR Lineup in the Late 2020s or Early 2030s

? Leaked Videos Hint Samsung Smart Glasses Might Also Be in the Works

⌚ Peloton’s new CEO: I came out of retirement to make the company successful

⌚ Fitbit smartwatches could detect stress before it ruins your day

? Startup investment recap (February 2022)

? Tech Stats of the month

? Snapshots & videos of the Month

Let’s jump right into the insights and upside for all of these top stories

?Upside: Our key takeaways from our European trip with top clubs, coaches and national teams.

Two weeks ago we took a quick break to catch up with some top European clubs (Ligue 1, Premier League..), Olympic organizations and national teams to get a pulse on the latest sports tech trends impacting those sports organizations. We had numerous meetings with top coaches, athletic trainers, head of sports performance and science, and heads of digital and innovation. Without getting into specific of who the sports organizations were, here are some key takeaways based on our conversations during our European trip.

To Read the full Upside analysis, click here.

⚡ ? Upside: Injury Risk Assessment Solutions Ecosystem (Key Trends, Vendors, Recommendations to Teams) Analysis

Over the last decade, injury risk assessment has become a major challenge for many pro teams and leagues. For example, as shown in the graph below, among US sports leagues, the cost of injuries has skyrocketed over the years and totaled $700M and $500M for the MLB and NFL, respectively, in 2017. This is why pro teams and leagues are now investing heavily on advanced solutions in order to try to help reduce this cost which is impacting their top line, and results.

To Read the full Upside analysis, click here.

? ? Upside Article: Biofeedback Applications in Sports, by Len Zaichkowsky, PhD, World-Class’ Sports Biofeedback Expert

This week, we have the honor to have Len Zaichkowsky, PhD, world’s class expert in biofeedback/psychophysiology, and cognitive fitness, write another article on “Biofeedback Applications in Sports”. Of note, Len has worked with many elite pro teams (Warriors (NBA), Penguins (NHL), Vancouver Canucks (NHL), Real Madrid, National Spanish soccer team…) over the years. Len is going to write a series of articles for the Upside on biofeedback, psychophysiology, and cognitive fitness. Today we are publishing his second article.

To Read the full Upside analysis, click here.

Upside Podcast Interviews of the Month

?Upside Chat: Eddie Jones, Head Coach of England National Rugby Team

?Upside Chat with Serial Entrepreneurs & Investors (Siri inventor, VC…) on Best Practices for Successful Exits.

? Upside Chat: Dave Hancock, CEO, Apollo (Leading Athlete Management Systems (AMS) vendor)

? Upside Chat: Massimo Marinelli, Executive Board Member, Aser Ventures (Leading Investment Platform In Sports and Technology)

? Upside Chat: Chelsey Rushworth, SVP Sales, LiveLike (leading engagement platform for sports and entertainment)

? NFTs/Metaverse/Blockchain News

? Manchester City head to the metaverse with Sony partnership | Via : Sportspromedia

English soccer champions Manchester City have announced a global partnership with Japanese conglomerate Sony Corporation to develop new digital fan experiences. The Premier League outfit will conduct a proof of concept (PoC) with Sony, which will leverage the company’s technologies and City’s fanbase to develop new forms of digital content.

The PoC will seek to leverage Sony’s ‘cutting-edge’ image analysis and sensing technologies, as well as the electronic performance tracking systems developed by Sony’s Hawk-Eye Innovations to engage sports fans from anywhere in the world. The burgeoning metaverse is at the centre of the collaboration, with both parties aiming to create a global online fan community where fans can interact with City and each other within the metaverse, which will be a virtual recreation of the club’s Etihad Stadium.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe that this is a good move by Manchester City. Manchester City tends to go first when it comes to new emerging technologies. They were one of the first teams to offer a VR fans experience a few years ago and they are doing the same thing here with this metaverse experience. Now we think that Manchester City will have to use an hybrid approach and not just offer a virtual metaverse experience but also other types of metaverse experiences (AR, NFTs..) in order to appeal to a large audience. Of note, since 2010, Manchester City’s global fanbase has risen to 82 million (40M on Facebook, 30M on Instagram, 12M on Twitter). We expect the club to convert a good portion of his fan base to the metaverse experience. Now how much of a solid ROI will Man City get in the end? It is everyone’s guess at this point. We expect other top clubs to follow suit and offer similar virtual metaverse experiences in the coming months. For more info, you can check out our latest analysis on the NFT Sports market here. You can also check out our sports metaverse ecosystem analysis here. You can also check out our latest recap on our European trip here.

?FC Barcelona joins the sports teams turning to the metaverse and NFTs | Via : Techmonitor

Speaking during the first day of the congress, which is being held in Barcelona, Laporta talked about how the football club, which is owned by its community of members, is looking at how the technologies can provide opportunities for growth. The club already uses virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) for fan experiences at its Camp Nou stadium.

“We want to develop our metaverse, our NFTs and all of these new business [opportunities] that appear in our world,” Laporta told the conference.

One of Europe’s most successful football clubs, FC Barcelona was founded in 1899 as a non-profit association and is owned by its club members. It has 144,000 members plus 1,200 Barça Fans, members of the online fan community of the club. Recently it has fallen into financial difficulties, and digital income streams could prove central to its recovery.

According to Laporta, the club’s Barca Studios audio-visual team is producing and commercialising content as well as developing the club’s metaverse.

“There has been a lot of attention [on] blockchain products and services such as NFTs and metaverse,” says Laporta. “We all know that the digital world will play a very important role in the coming year. We will soon be able to offer digital products to our members, to our fans [and] the fans of e-sports.”

⬆️ The Upside: This should not come as a surprise to see the FC Barcelona being vocal about its plan to enter the metaverse/NFT space. They are in a difficult situation. The club’s debts total 1.35 billion euros, 673 million of which is owed to banks. The priority is stadium renovations aimed at having the new Camp Nou ready by the end of 2025 with work starting next year to expand capacity to 105,000, making it Europe’s largest stadium. We are a bit skeptical if NFTs/Metaverse will be a big revenue generator for them, but we believe this is a good move by the FC Barcelona.

? Atlanta Braves (MLB) launching Digital Truist Park in the metaverse | Via : Fox News

The Atlanta Braves are breaking new ground as the first Major League Baseball team to enter the metaverse. Tuesday, the Braves announced the creation of Digital Truist Park, a virtual replica of the team’s ballpark. The team released a sneak peek of the virtual site, which will feature the ballpark and The Battery. The goal is to give fans a non-physical experience of the venue right from home. Inside the digital park, fans will be able to create their own avatars and have access to exclusive content, performances, and meet-and-greets with the team.

“It’s exciting to create a new way for our fans to connect with our team and their favorite ballpark,” Braves president and CEO Derek Schiller said in a statement. “The digital version of Truist Park will offer limitless opportunities to create unique fan engagements in the metaverse and we are proud to be the first team to offer this immersive experience.”

You can watch the video on their metaverse experience here.

⬆️ The Upside: Similar to Manchester City’s metaverse announcement we think this is a good move for the Braves but the Braves needs to mix things up with other types of metaverse experiences that are non virtual in order to capture a large audience. As a reminder, MLB has the oldest fans among the major sports, with an average age of 57, according to a 2017 survey by Sports Business Journal. The average NBA, NHL, and NFL fans are 42, 49, and 50, respectively. So those older MLB fans will not be interested in a virtual metaverse experience. However, since the MLB is trying to find ways to appeal to younger demographics this type of experience will help there. We expect other MLB teams to follow suit. For more info, you can check out our latest analysis on the NFT Sports market here. You can also check out our sports metaverse ecosystem analysis here.

Picture: Atlanta Braves (MLB)

? AR/VR/Video/Digital Sports News

? Apple’s Contact Lenses Will Complete Its AR/VR Lineup in the Late 2020s or Early 2030s | Via : iDropnews

Apple is a company that changes the scope of each product category it goes into—ultimately making the products better than what anyone thought of them before. Apple will eventually cannibalize the iPhone within the next 10-15 years with the Apple mixed reality headset, Apple Glass AR glasses, and even contact lenses.

A new report indicates that Apple is working on some AR contact lenses that will use some version of the upcoming “realityOS” as its main operating system. Since they will be contact lenses, it will be much easier and cheaper to manufacture them – that means the price won’t be $1,000-$2,000 like the Apple mixed reality headset, or $399-$699 like Apple Glass; the price would likely be priced around $99-$299.

If plans go right, the release date will be sometime between the late 2020s and early 2030s, which is certainly a long while from now. Apple may attempt to replace the iPhone with this AR/VR lineup, but the company will more than likely still keep the iPhone around for some time for people who still want an iPhone in their pocket.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe that this would be a bold move by Apple. Here is why: Apple is not typically a pioneer when it comes to entering new markets. So for Apple to go ahead and offer AR contact lenses would be unexpected to say the least. It will require Apple to get the FDA approval in order to offer those AR contact lenses which will take them at least 2-3 years. Also, only 17% of the US population (40.9 million persons) wear contact lenses so it is a niche market and Apple typically does not go after niche markets. If Apple does decide to enter this market, they will face competition from companies like Mojo Vision, and Emacula. Net net we think that Apple is unlikely to offer AR contact lenses in the near future. First Apple will offer some hybrid AR/VR glasses then it could potentially offer AR contact lenses in the next 3-4 years.

Augmented Reality Contact Lenses

? Leaked Videos Hint Samsung Smart Glasses Might Also Be in the Works | Via : Gizmodo

It looks like Apple and Facebook aren’t the only tech giants developing a pair of augmented reality smart glasses. Over the weekend, Twitter user @WalkingCat leaked two videos allegedly from Samsung showcasing a pair of AR glasses dubbed “Glasses Lite” and what appears to be the company’s vision for “Next Wearable Computing.”

In the first “Glasses Lite” video, you can see a man wearing what appears to be a chunky pair of white sunglasses with a square-shaped embedded screen. The glasses would be capable of letting users watch movies, participate in video chats, fly drones, and project a holographic display for getting work done, according to the video. There’s also a section where it appears you can control the glasses via a Samsung Galaxy Watch. Another neat tidbit is that the Glasses Lite look like they come with a sunglasses mode for when you’re outside. That’s crucial, as many consumer-grade AR glasses have yet to solve the problem of ambient light washing out the projected display. Meanwhile, the second video appears to be more conceptual. In it, a user wearing a pair of AR glasses types on a projected keyboard to do work, takes holographic calls, and is able to collaborate with coworkers on a project by superimposing an AR environment over his real one. It’s very Tony Stark-esque, if Ironman was way more focused on everyday office work and not building robot suits to combat supervillains.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe that this leaked video is credible. Samsung needs to shake things up ahead of the Apple’s AR glasses launch. In our view, Samsung will offer a multi price tier AR glasses strategy with AR glasses at various prices (low, mid, premier) which is what it has typically done in the past to compete against Apple. Samsung is well positioned in the AR glasses market as it has a solid install base of customers, a strong brand and solid distribution channels and a coherent hardware ecosystem (smartphone, tablet, laptop, smart watch, smart TV, etc..). Now will Samsung offer the best AR glasses experience? Probably not. But Samsung will be able to market it in a very effective way and it knows how to sell hardware. Of note, at the end of March 2020, there were 992.4 million active Samsung smartphones in the world, claiming more than a quarter (26.2%) of the global smartphone market.

Picture: Samsung leaked video showcasing its upcoming AR glasses

? Wearables, Health, Nutrition News

⌚ Peloton’s new CEO: I came out of retirement to make the company successful | Via : Bloomberg

Peloton’s new CEO Barry McCarthy is known in tech circles and on Wall Street as Mr. No Bullshit. Direct. No nonsense. A deep strategic thinker who wants to get stuff done yesterday. A man who likes golf, but enjoys explaining the intricacies of tech subscription models and the ins and outs of a balance sheet perhaps way more.

And overall McCarthy, 69, lived up to all of that external branding in an exclusive 30-minute Zoom chat with Yahoo Finance.

“I could have stayed in retirement,” McCarthy said, decked out in his trademark vest and glasses and looking not too far removed from fit Peloton instructor status. “It’s pretty clear to me there are only one or two outcomes for me here — either I’m coming home in defeat or I’m coming out victorious.”

It includes being the innovative architect of Spotify’s 2018 direct listing. At Spotify, he was CFO for several years before retiring in 2019, working closely with founder Daniel Ek. Before then, he worked alongside Netflix’s founder Reed Hastings to build the streaming giant into a powerhouse.

⬆️ The Upside: This announcement from Peloton makes sense. We believe that McCarthy is the right executive with the right experience (Spotify, Netflix…) to try to shake things up. The timing of this announcement is right as Peloton’s market cap has also fallen by at least 80% in the past year. This bolds well with Peloton’s strategy to become an entertainment platform. McCarthy knows how to run a successful entertainment platform. There is no doubt that he knows what it takes to transform Peloton into a high margin entertainment platform so the company can become less dependent on its low margin hardware business.

SUN VALLEY, ID - JULY 11: (L-R) Valerie McCarthy and Barry McCarthy, chief financial officer at Spotify, attend annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 11, 2018 in Sun Valley, Idaho. Every July, some of the world's most wealthy and powerful businesspeople from the media, finance, technology and political spheres converge at the Sun Valley Resort for the exclusive week-long conference. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Picture: Peloton’s new CEO, 2022

⌚ Fitbit smartwatches could detect stress before it ruins your day | Via : Wareable

Fitbit seems to be working on a feature for its smartwatches and fitness trackers that would essentially be able to detect when you might be about to get stressed and offer advice to make sure you stay calm and collected. The potential future Fitbit feature was described in a patent filed at the US Patent and Trademark Office by Fitbit on the 24 February, which talks about the ‘Detection and Response to Arousal Activations’.

The basic principle of how the feature will work seems to be geared around individual or multiple sensors on a wearable device, which could include the EDA and ECG kind. Both of those sensors are already offered on the Fitbit Charge 5 fitness tracker and Fitbit’s Sense smartwatch.

⬆️ The Upside: We think this would be a good move by Fitbit as most OEMs and wearable markers are moving beyond HR and ECG data and are trying to offer data driven insights like stress, fatigue level, and so on. This will help improve the stickiness of Fitbit product offering. The more insights Fitbit will be able to deliver to its users, the more likely they will be to stick around. Of note, an estimated 8.3 million American adults — about 3.4 percent of the U.S. population — suffer from serious psychological distress, an evaluation of federal health data concluded. Previous estimates put the number of Americans suffering from serious psychological distress at 3 percent or less, the researchers said. So Fitbit is targeting a key area here.

Fitbit working on real-time stress alerts

? Sports Tech & Health Investment Recap – February 2022/ January 2022

Here is the recap of the major sports startups’ investments in in February 2022/ January 2022, which investments reached $760M and were up +15% , compared to November 2021. 26% of funding came from Metaverse/NFT startups, down from 80% last month.

Source: Upside, Confidential, February 2022

New Tech fund & M&As:

  • New Zealand Rugby’s (NZR) long-mooted deal with Silver Lake has been agreed, which will see the private equity firm invest $134M in the national governing body’s new commercial entity.
  • Fanatics and a number of high-profile investors are purchasing vintage sports jersey maker Mitchell & Ness for a reported $250 million — five times the amount Adidas sold it for in 2016 to Juggernaut Capital Partners.
  • Miami-based investment firm 777 Partners has agreed to acquire a 70% stake in Brazilian soccer club Vasco da Gama.

? Key Tech Sports Stats of The Month

$4.3B: DAZN is wiping the slate clean with a $4.3 billion recapitalization from its billionaire owner. Len Blavatnik’s investment firm Access Industries Holdings LLC, DAZN’s principal shareholder, has retired loans, converted shares, and taken on a greater stake in the sports streaming service to eliminate DAZN’s debts as of the end of 2021.

Blavatnik saw his wealth grow by $9.8 billion from the beginning of 2021 to $31.2 billion by mid-May. DAZN recorded a loss above $1.3 billion for 2019. The company said its revenue has risen 20%, but it is still far from profitable. Access is putting an additional $250 million into DAZN as it seeks to expand into new markets. Specifically, the company is lining up moves into sports betting, gaming, and NFTs.

$4B: Russian oligarch and Chelsea F.C. owner Roman Abramovich formally announced he would sell the team last Wednesday, with Raine Group — the bank handling the sale — asking for “indicative offers” to be in by last Friday.

The PA news agency reported Abramovich has received several serious bids in the $4 billion range — he has turned down $3 billion offers in the past. Goal reported that Abramovich, worth around $12.5 billion, is looking to sell his U.K.-based assets quickly before sanctions take hold following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

These are the high-profile bidders for Chelsea FC that are emerging:

  • Philadelphia 76ers managing owner Josh Harris is reportedly considering a bid.
  • Harris, who also co-owns the New Jersey Devils and other sports properties, would presumably need to divest from his stake in Premier League club Crystal Palace to buy Chelsea.
  • Having ties to another Premier League club also hasn’t stopped Jamie Reuben from considering a bid.
  • The son of billionaire real estate investor David Reuben could tap his family wealth. Jamie’s brothers, Simon and David Reuben, own around 10% of Newcastle.
Roman Abramovich's sale of Chelsea could go through within TEN DAYS, says Premier League chief | Daily Mail Online

$2B: Negotiations often come down to who has more to lose. A report from Fitch Ratings finds that MLB owners could weather a full season without baseball.

MLB’s “ample liquidity position” at the end of last month and debt reserve funds can cover the loss of a full season, the financial analyst wrote.

  • Potential losses in 2022 could be covered by ticket revenue and media deals, Fitch noted.
  • The league can draw up to $2 billion from its A-rated MLB Club Trust Securitization and $1.25 billion from its MLB Facility Fund, which holds an A- rating.
  • MLB holds around $2.1 billion in debt from those two facilities.
MLB lockout: MLBPA to make new proposal Sunday in first meeting since games were canceled, per report -

$1.7B: Ligue 1 is set to become the next major league to sell a stake to private equity.

France’s top soccer league is taking bids for shares in a new entity that would hold its media rights business.

The league is looking to raise $1.7 billion through the investment and reportedly asking bidders how large a stake they seek for that amount, rather than how much they would like to invest price-wise.

  • Hellman & Friedman, Silver Lake, and Oaktree Capital are all expected to bid.
  • Reports from December stated that Bain Capital, CVC Capital Partners, Advent, and French private equity firms Ardian and BPI had already made bids.
  • Proposals valued the rights between $10.2 billion and $14.1 billion at that time. The league could select more than one partner in an eventual deal.

In December, La Liga ratified an agreement with CVC for $2.3 billion in exchange for an 8.2% stake in a new company to hold the Spanish league’s media rights.

$1.5B: Fanatics announced a $1.5 billion funding round, valuing the company at $27 billion. BlackRock, Fidelity, and MSD Capital were included in the round, a source close to the deal told Front Office Sports. The company raised $325 million in August at an $18 billion valuation.

$766.5M: FIFA is on pace for record revenue for a four-year cycle as it pushes to move to biennial World Cups.

Soccer’s global governing body said it notched 2021 revenue of $766.5 million in its annual report, a 187% increase from 2020’s $266.5 million.

  • Marketing sales accounted for $131 million of FIFA’s 2021 revenue, namely due to $93 million in partnership agreements.
  • Broadcast rights accounted for another $123 million.
  • FIFA said it has already brought in $6.1 billion in the four-year cycle beginning in 2019, 95% of the way to its target of $6.4 billion — and that’s before this year’s World Cup in Qatar.

The organization’s total assets grew 21% in 2021 to $5.5 billion.

FIFA scandal: World Cup TV, host rights in focus in new indictments - Sports Illustrated

$600M: The Premier League is auctioning off its first NFT license, and Sorare is reportedly getting in on the action, despite warnings from a United Kingdom government agency about its product.

The blockchain-based soccer game company is one of four companies in the running for a deal to produce digital collectibles for the league.

  • Bids for the NFT license reportedly range from $299 million to $589.8 million over four years.
  • In October 2021, the UK Gambling Commission opened an inquiry into Sorare to determine whether it should be required to hold a gambling license in the country. The agency noted that Sorare is not currently regulated as a gambling company, and that customers should exercise caution.
  • Sorare offers an ethereum-based game in which users may buy, sell, and trade digital soccer player cards and win prizes when their team performs well.

The Premier League boasts enormous global popularity: Its international media deals total $7.2 billion for the 2022-25 cycle, beating its domestic returns — $6.9 billion — for the first time.

Sorare is one of four companies in the running for the Premier League’s first NFT licence

$373M: In pursuit of 21-year-old superstar Erling Haaland, Real want to meet with his current club, Borussia Dortmund, to discuss the forward’s situation and whether it makes sense to bid for him, according to ESPN.

Real’s interest in Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe has been well-documented, but the club could conceivably add both strikers and finally fill the void left by the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018. That could be costly.

  • Haaland is signed with Dortmund through 2024 with a release clause of around $82M this summer.
  • A deal for the Norwegian could cost more than $373M with the transfer fee, commission, and salary.
  • He scored 23 goals in 20 appearances in all competitions this season — and 80 in 79 since joining Dortmund in 2020.
Is Real Madrid the next destination of Erling Haaland? | CricketSoccer

$208.2M: The NFL has set its salary cap for all 32 teams at $208.2 million for the 2022 season, marking the first time in league history that the cap has exceeded $200 million.

Based on league revenues, the cap took a hit for only the second time in history in 2021 due to lost revenue from COVID, dropping to $182.5 million from $198.2 million in 2020.

  • Adding in benefits, teams will have a total player cost of $284.3 million.
  • Teams are required to be at or under the cap by March 16 — the official start of the 2022 league year.

The NFL also set its salaries for players who receive franchise tags, which allow teams to bring back one player who is set to be an unrestricted free agent for another year if certain conditions are met.

NFL sets 2022 salary cap at $208.2 million | Yardbarker

$111M: Serena Williams just scored a major off-court win — this time, with her venture capital firm. Serena Ventures announced on Wednesday that its first fund has raised $111 million. The fund will “invest in founders with diverse points of view,” according to The New York Times.

  • The company has made angel investments in about 60 brands, including Daily Harvest and MasterClass.
  • Its track record already includes six exits and 13 unicorns.
  • Some of the fund’s limited partners include Liontree, Kapor Foundation, Norwest, and Capital G.
  • 76% of founders in Serena Ventures’ current portfolio come from historically underrepresented backgrounds.
Serena Williams Tells Top Newspaper "You Can Do Better" After Wrong Photo | Tennis News

$47.6M: Top Shot led the way in the NFT space in terms of total sales with a total of $47.6M worth of transaction vs 40.6M for Sorare.

Source: Monthly stats overview of the NFT marketplaces of the biggest sports leagues.

1.13M: Sports-focused streaming service FuboTV reported record earnings in Q4 2021, generating $231 million in revenue, a 119% increase year-over-year.

In addition to the strong quarter, the New York-based company posted record annual revenue of $638 million in FY2021, up from $261 million for the same period the year prior.

Since raising $183 million in its IPO in October 2020, FuboTV continues to grow.

  • The company saw ad revenue reach $73 million in FY2021, up from $29 million in 2020.
  • It closed FY2021 with 1.13 million paid subscribers, a 106% increase year-over-year.
fuboTV - Watch & DVR Live Sports & TV Online

$6000: The $6,000 average price of admission for Mike Krzyzewski’s final home game is more than that of this year’s Super Bowl — a testament to his drawing power.

After all, there’s a reason Coach K’s name is on the hardwood of Cameroon Indoor: He’s arguably the greatest college basketball coach of all time — a reputation he forged in large part on that floor.

In 42 seasons, he’s 572-75 (.884) at home and has compiled a 50-46 overall record against Saturday’s opponent, rivals UNC.

  • Krzyzewski’s five national titles (12 Final Fours) are second to only John Wooden’s 10 national titles (also 12 Final Fours).
  • His 1,196 wins are the most all-time, nearly doubling Wooden (664).
  • He led Duke to 24 straight NCAA men’s tournament berths from 1996 to 2019 — the longest streak in NCAA history — and won three Olympic gold medals with Team USA.
  • Coach K’s annual salary ($9.7M) is the highest in college basketball. He could’ve made more in the NBA — most recently in 2010, when the Nets reportedly offered him $12-15 million.
Duke fans in disbelief after UNC spoils Coach K's home finale - Sports Illustrated

62%: NFTs relating to professional US sports such as basketball (NBA), American Football (NFL) and baseball (MLB) are already popular among consumers, according to research from McKinsey. According to the McKinsey survey, 62% of people surveyed said that they would be more likely to buy NFTs from the NBA. NFTs from the NFL and MLB came 2nd (58%) and 3rd (45%).

40: With his latest Champions League performance, Robert Lewandowski may have finally supplanted Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the world’s top scoring threat.

On Tuesday, Lewandowski recorded a hat-trick in the first 23 minutes of Bayern Munich’s 7-1 thrashing of RB Salzberg — the fastest hat-trick from the start of a match in Champions League history. Bayern advanced to the UCL quarter-finals on an 8-2 aggregate score.

The 33-year-old’s ruthlessly efficient treble has him flirting with history.

  • He’s the first to score 40 goals across all competitions this season, his seventh consecutive season hitting that mark — third all-time behind Messi (10) and Ronaldo (8).
Robert Lewandowski goal matches Ronaldo's mark in second-best calendar year ever | Sporting News

21: After winning the Australian Open tennis, Rafael Nadal won his 21st Grand Slam title, breaking the men’s all-time record for most career Grand Slam titles. He was previously tied with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic at 20. This is actually the first time Nadal has had sole possession of the men’s Grand Slam record.

By The Numbers: Rafael Nadal's 21 Grand Slam singles titles - Official Site of the 2022 US Open Tennis Championships - A USTA Event

? Snapshots & Videos of the Month.

Nike + Roblox + Snapchat: Nike is adding a digital layer to the physical shopping experience at the brand’s New York City store on Fifth Avenue through a collaboration with Roblox. Click here to learn more.

Shaq enters the metaverse: NBA unveils metaverse coach voiced by Shaquille O’ Neal.

Drone show stole the show at the Beijing 2022 winter Olympics. The new drones by Intel played a prominent part in the opening ceremonies.

Alibaba launched four NFTs featuring sports at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, expanding the offerings available in China’s closed, NFT world. “The four badges, each having 8,888 copies, were issued on four different dates, but were only available to Alibaba’s 88Vip paid members, who could purchase using shopping credits and 0.01 yuan (0.16 US cents).”


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