The Future of Sports: Jed Corenthal of Phenix On The New Emerging Technologies That Are Disrupting The World Of Sports
An Interview With Tyler Gallagher
The ability to follow-up: It is a lost skill but believe it or not, people just don’t follow-up on calls, meetings, interviews. Seems so simple but forgotten by many.
New technologies have changed the way we engage in and watch sports. Sensors, Wearable Tech, Video Assistant Referees (VAR), and Instant Replay, are examples of new technologies that have changed the way we play and watch sports. In this interview series called, “The Future of Sports; New Emerging Technologies That Are Disrupting The World Of Sports,” we are talking to sports leaders, athletes, sports tech experts, and sports equipment companies who can talk about the new technologies that are reshaping the sports world.
As a part of this interview, we had the pleasure of interviewing Jed Corenthal.
Jed Corenthal is Chief Marketing Officer of Phenix, the technology platform that can stream video in real-time at broadcast scale. Jed is an accomplished marketing leader with nearly 30 years of experience across various industries, having worked in technology via mobile and Over-the-Top (OTT) streaming, sports at the NFL and AVP, and music and entertainment at Sony.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I have been playing the drums since I was 7, so I always had a love for music. I spent over 11 years at Sony Music/Columbia Records in various roles, with the last having created a cross-platform sales and marketing group. Our goal was to work primarily with companies in sports and develop integrated marketing campaigns, which we did for Nike, UPS, the NBA and NFL. From there, the NFL recruited me to help run the Integrated Marketing department, which I did for 4 years. I left the NFL and began my career as an entrepreneur, where I started two companies. The first I merged with a larger digital company, and the second I sold to our investors. With all of that knowledge, I have served as the CMO at Phenix for the past five years.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I took a friend and his 12-year-old son to the Super Bowl. We went to the green room at the NFL Experience — the place where many players hang out. He got several autographs and then we left out a back exit. As we were walking, we saw Hall of Fame defensive player, Bruce Smith. My friend’s son was shy about going up to him, but we convinced him to do it. He went and someone with Bruce forced him away. Needless to say, the boy was crushed. As we were walking away, a car pulled up next to us, and it was Bruce! He stopped, chatted with the boy, signed a few things, and then left. Moral of the story: BEING NICE MATTERS!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite quote comes from the world of sports: “All the good players adjust.” Sometimes in life, things come at you unexpectedly, and you must adjust in order to succeed. When I was at Columbia Records, I was serving as a Product Manager, a job I did not love. I saw an opportunity to start a new division at Sony, so I made an adjustment, submitted a business plan, and it was approved. A move that would never have happened if not for being able to quickly adapt and change.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am grateful for my father. This may be a bit old school, but he always believed that if you work hard, good things will come your way. People aren’t lucky, he said, you make your own luck — something I still believe today.
Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The Bridges of Madison County. First off, I am a romantic sap. This book was so intense, and the chemistry between the two characters was so deep. What is most interesting is that I refused to see the film at first once they announced that Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep were playing the leads. I didn’t see the fit. When I finally saw it, I realized how wrong I was. They were both incredible!
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
1. The ability to follow-up: It is a lost skill but believe it or not, people just don’t follow-up on calls, meetings, interviews. Seems so simple but forgotten by many.
2. Drive: I am an animal when it comes time to getting things done. No need to play games — do your research, come up with an outline, a plan, or however you like to begin a project then make it happen.
3. Multi-tasking: My wife is amazed at how many things I can do at once — apparently not something common with men! Maybe this comes from playing the drums — having both hands and feet working independently but towards the same result. Regardless, this is how my brain works, and it has served me well.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I have always tried pay it forward by helping those either starting out or struggling. Often, college or graduate students reach out for advice on how to start their careers, and I will always take their calls and spend time sharing my experiences. Additionally, to those out of work or looking to make a change — please reach out, and if there is any way I can help, I will. We have all been there, and I believe in treating others as though you would like to be treated.
Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about the sports technologies that most excite you at the moment? Can you explain why you are passionate about it?
I am most excited about what we are creating at Phenix, which is a streaming technology that allows our clients to stream video in real-time, while attaining broadcast quality and scale. This technology is changing the way we watch, interact with, and bet on live sports. Real-time streaming helps the overall sports viewing experience in many ways. First, it helps avoid the ‘Spoiler Alert’ as those moments that come from a game lagging behind other streams/broadcasts, so a text from your friend or notification on your phone won’t come before you’ve seen the play. Next, it allows for the 21st century sports viewing experience through gamification and interactivity, such as ‘Watch Together’ features, in-game trivia, polls, shopping, giveaways etc. It also offers the ability to power in-game “micro-betting” — the ability to bet on EVERY play in a game. All of this allows for real-time streaming technology to open new revenue lines for broadcasters, advertisers, and betting platforms/houses.
How do you think this might change the world of sports?
You wouldn’t want to pay for an awful seat or terrible atmosphere at a stadium, so why pay to have a mundane viewing experience at-home? 2020, the year of no in-person fans, taught us just how important a great at-home viewing experience is. That shouldn’t come with compromises like putting your phone on silent or not chatting with friends until post-game. In addition, incorporating real-time streaming will change the very profitable business of sports betting. It lets the betting windows stay open longer and allows for in-game betting. Imagine betting on EVERY play in a game — the next pitch, the next pass, and so on! Not only is that exciting for the bettor, but it makes even more money for the betting platform or house. That can happen now, but only with real-time streaming technology that gets rid of delays so that everyone watches the game at the same time — regardless of where you’re located or what platform, device, or internet service provider you’re watching on.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
Nope, this technology can benefit all — from the viewer to the broadcasters, advertisers, and betting platforms.
What are the 3 things that concern you about the sports industry today? Can you explain? What can be done to address or correct those concerns?
1. Streaming technology is old and out of date.
2. (Younger) fans are not watching full games as much as watching highlights.
3. Rights fees are getting too costly, which potentially cuts out startups or other new innovative delivery technologies that could better serve the fan.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
Here’s my main two:
1. Information is power. Read everything, do your due diligence on anyone you are meeting with and any company you are talking to. Always be prepared.
2. Your first job does not have to be your favorite job. If you’re just starting out, get in the door of a company you like then prove your value.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Education, education, education. It is the most important thing we can offer to young people. Those who come from backgrounds, environments, and families that don’t necessarily have as many opportunities to succeed need help. There are just as many smart and motivated people, but without the tools or resources available to them, they could get lost. That is where I would put money and time.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
I have always been a fan of JK Rowling. She is the ultimate rags to riches story. Her drive and determination to succeed is second to none. What she has created and built is immensely impressive, and I would love to pick her brain.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can connect with me on LinkedIn.
Thank you so much for these excellent stories and insights. We wish you continued success on your great work!