Comcast NBCUniversal believes its can entry startup innovation whereas supporting future Olympic gold-medalists.
The American mass media firm launched its new SportsTech accelerator right this moment, based mostly partly, on that impetus.
TechCrunch attended a briefing with Comcast execs at 30 Rock NYC to be taught extra concerning the initiative.
The SportsTech accelerator is a partnership throughout Comcast NBCUniversal’s sports activities media manufacturers: NBC Sports, Sky Sports and the Golf Channel.
The program brings in business companions NASCAR, U.S. Ski & Snowboard and USA Swimming — all of whose sports activities broadcast on Comcast NBC channels.
Starting right this moment, pre-Series A sports activities know-how startups can apply to grow to be a part of a 10-company cohort.
Accepted ventures will acquire $50,000 in equity-based funding and enter SportsTech’s three-month accelerator boot camp — with sports activities business help and mentorship — to kick off at Comcast’s Atlanta workplaces August 2020.
Boomtown Accelerators will be a part of Comcast in managing the SportsTech program, with each sharing a minimal of 6% fairness in chosen startups.
Industry companions, resembling NASCAR and U.S. Ski & Snowboard, will play an advisory function in startup choice, however received’t add capital.
An overarching goal for SportsTech emerged throughout conversations with execs and Jenna Kurath, Comcast’s VP for Startup Partner Development, who will run the brand new accelerator.
Comcast and companions intention to entry innovation that might advance the enterprise and aggressive features of every group.
From McDonald’s McD Tech Labs to Mastercard’s Start Path, company incubators and accelerators have grow to be frequent in massive cap America, the place firms look to faucet startup ingenuity and deal-flow to adapt and hedge disruption.
Toward its personal objectives, SportsTech has designated a number of most popular startup classes. They embody Business of Sports, Team and Coach Success and Athlete and Player Performance.
SportsTech companions, resembling NASCAR, hope to entry innovation to drive higher viewers engagement. The motorsport sequence (and its advertising-base) has grow to be extra device-distributed, and NASCAR streams extra race-day information dwell, from the pits to the motive force’s seat.
“The focus has grown into what are we going to do to introduce more technology in the competition side of the sport…the fan experience side and how we operate as a business,” mentioned NASCAR Chief Innovation Officer Craig Neeb.
“We’re confident we’re going to get access to some incredibly strong and innovative companies,” he mentioned of NASCAR’s SportsTech participation.
U.S. Ski & Snowboard — the nonprofit that manages America’s snowsport competitors groups — has an eye fixed on efficiency and medical tech for its athletes.
“Wearable technology [to measure performance]…is an area of interest…and things like computer vision and artificial intelligence for us to better understand technical elements, are quite interesting,” mentioned Troy Taylor, U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Director of High Performance.
Some of that know-how may enhance prospects of U.S. athletes, resembling alpine skiers Tommy Ford and Mikaela Shiffrin, on the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
In a $7.75 billion deal inked in 2014, Comcast NBCUniversal bought the U.S. broadcast rights for Olympic competitors — summer time and winter — by means of 2032.
“We asked ourselves, ‘could we do more?’ The notion of an innovation engine that runs before, during and after the Olympics. Could that give our Team USA a competitive edge in their pursuit for gold?,” mentioned Jenna Kurath.
The reply got here up within the affirmative and led to the formation of Comcast’s SportsTech accelerator.
Beyond supporting Olympic achievement, there’s a strategic enterprise motivation for Comcast and its new group.
“The early insights we gain from these companies could lead to other commercial relationships, whether that’s licensing or even acquisition,” Will McIntosh, EVP for NBC Sports Digital and Consumer Business, advised TechCrunch.
SportsTech is Comcast’s third accelerator, and the group has a VC fund, San Francisco-based Comcast Ventures — which has invested within the likes of Lyft, Vimeo and Slack and racked up 67 exits, per Crunchbase information.
After finishing the SportsTech accelerator, cohort startups may obtain series-level funding or buy provides from Comcast, its enterprise arm or business companions, resembling NASCAR.
“Our natural discipline right now is…to have early deliverables. But overtime, with our existing partners, we’ll have conversations about who else could be a logical value-add to bring into this ecosystem,” mentioned Bill Connors, Comcast Central Division President.