The Crossover: The New Mashup of Sports Business, Entertainment & Lifestyle

In recent months, much has been made about how technology is fragmenting the sports-viewing audience. Indeed, cords are being cut at an accelerating rate while new distribution channels seem to pop up daily. Certainly, it’s a challenging time to be in sports business.

But dig beneath the surface, and you’ll see a far different picture. Because the same technologies that have disrupted viewership have also allowed franchises, leagues and sports businesses to build themselves into multi-asset properties.

In short, it’s no longer just monetizing your sport. It’s about monetizing everything that goes with it — entertainment, lifestyle, technology, brands & sponsorship, distribution and investments. I call it the Crossover, and it will forever change the business of sports.

From Sports to Lifestyle: How the Business Changed Forever

The Milwaukee Bucks’ Wisconsin Entertainment and Sportscenter, designed by Populous

Fans have always been insatiable. They want more access, deeper connections with their teams and, above all, better experiences. And with technology, they can now get it, as they’ve curate their own lifestyles around the sports, teams and athletes they love.

For sports businesses, this presents unlimited opportunities, because rather than being restricted to monetizing only broadcasts and stadium experiences, they can now deliver a full spectrum of experiences.

Sports have transcended the boundary of being merely sports. They’re now a lifestyle.

And with a lifestyle comes endless monetization opportunities from entertainment to fashion, food and a myriad of branded experiences. Owners of sports business and properties can now more effectively activate sponsorships and partnerships, control their own distribution channels and deliver enhanced fan experiences.

In addition, this has opened numerous investment opportunities — in venture funds, technologies, media properties, real estate and a number of sports-related businesses.

So the question is, with all these options, where do you go from here?

The Changing Face of Stadiums

T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas: the ultimate in sports entertainment

One area that’s seeing tremendous crossover is the development of full-fledged entertainment districts around sports stadiums. Numerous teams have revitalized downtown areas around their arenas and many others are building theirs from scratch. SunTrust park, home of the Atlanta Braves, was conceived with the Battery Atlanta as its anchor.

The Patriots have transformed a set of parking lots into Patriot Place. The Cubs have revitalized the area around Wrigley… and the list goes on and on.

And as fans desire more integrated experiences, these multi-use districts will only increase in scope and magnificence.

The Rise of Sports VC’s

Other franchises have capitalized by launching venture funds and seeking alternative investments. The Dodgers Accelerator seeks to “innovate and shape industry growth” in what it dubs “the fastest changing sports market in history”.

17 NBA franchises have partnered with video game maker, NBA 2K, to launch an eSports league.

And NFL franchises such as the Cowboys and Patriots are notorious investors in DraftKings.

Formula 1: The Ultimate Crossover

The Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix: the most exclusive sporting event on earth

Perhaps the sport with most potential in this new era is Formula 1. Although largely unfamiliar to the U.S. market, it’s long been a global phenomenon. Its unique combination of speed, excitement, luxury and exclusivity, drama and technology provide it with natural entrees into a number of crossover opportunities.

And with Liberty Media’s recent $8 billion acquisition of the series, we’re likely to see a larger push into the U.S., much greater sponsorship, broader fan engagement and a host of growth-related deals.

What Can You Do?

The big question is, of course, what can you do to capitalize on these trends? Even if you’re not a billionaire franchise owner, the opportunities are for partnerships, co-branding, the creation of event experiences and fan engagement are endless.

With so much disruption, I’ve personally found no shortage of people who are both looking for deals and willing to talk. The key is simply to get creative, dig deep into your business to identify subsidiary opportunities and start reaching out.

Pete Davis is a Special Advisor to Whitecap Sports Group, a boutique sports M&A firm that brokers the sale of franchises, leagues and sports entities.

He is also a partner in Eventia Sports & Entertainment Group, a Las Vegas-based event management that delivers premier events and athlete & celebrity bookings.

My specialty is driving deal flow and developing events. To learn about our opportunities or to chat, please contact me at petedavisventures@gmail.com.

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