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Familiar Look: Meta Embraces Athlete’s Likeness for the launch of AI Chatbots 🤖
Plus Netflix takes a swing at live sport, the Sidemen consider a new venture, and the next Sports Pundit Social Club event is set for the 2nd of November
Welcome to Sports Pundit, the sports business newsletter giving you industry news that hits harder than Tyson Fury can throw a medicine ball 🥊
In today’s email;
Meta Embraces Athlete’s Likeness 🤖
Netflix Take a Swing at Live Sport ⛳️
The Sidemen consider a new Venture 💸
I’m on holiday in Lisbon right now and so I‘ve scheduled today’s newsletter in advance… This means I might have missed some of the really recent breaking news, but hopefully I can make up for it by shining a light on events that were less covered in the mainstream sports biz press earlier in the week. Let me know how I did!
Welcome also to all the new subscribers that have joined from London Sports Tech Network (LSTN). Shout out to Dan and Sam for trusting me with such a wonderful community. Big things lie ahead, and I’m excited to get to know you over the coming months! Hopefully at the upcoming event.
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Familiar Look: Meta Embraces Athlete’s Likeness for the launch of AI Chatbots 🤖
What do Tom Brady, Dwayne Wade, and Naomi Osaka have in common with the likes of Kylie Jenner, Snoop Dogg, Paris Hilton, and MrBeast?
Well, apart from all being incredibly famous, they have each accepted millions of dollars from Meta in exchange for the social media platform to use their likeness for fictional AI chatbots.
The bots will answer questions and engage the user in human-like conversations in real time based on the character’s personality, which will not be related directly to the celebrities from whom they have borrowed the likeness.
For example, Brady’s likeness has been assigned to a character called ‘Bru,’ a “wisecracking sports debater,” meanwhile Osaka plays the role of ‘Tamika,’ the “Manger Master” and Wade’s likeness has taken on the role of ‘Victor,’ an exercise coach.
For now, these bots are only available in text-based chat form, however, Meta has said that it is working on adding voice to the bots.
Sports Pundit says
🤔 Speaking at a developer conference earlier this month, Mark Zuckerberg explained that advances in AI will soon allow us to call upon various AI personas to help us with various tasks.
This goes beyond just answering queries for us. Instead, this new world of virtual AI chatbots, Zuckerberg believes, will provide us with entertainment and help us to do things to connect with the people around us – whether that is to chat about sports, ‘geek out,’ or come up with an exercise plan for us.
Right now, this might seem a little bizarre.
But we may not be far away from a world in which AI enables every person on the planet to seek the help of the preeminent expert in that field (or a fictional one), as well as enable one-to-one conversations between an athlete and a fan at scale.
This opens a ton of positive applications commercially, as well as in the space of education. However, it also provides a ton of new risks regarding how athletes and celebrities handle their likeness regarding things like reputational damage.
This potential future is both exhilarating and frightening.
📚 Further Reading: Ray-ban Meta smart glasses make AI convos even more convenient 🕶
Netflix take their first swing at live sport 🤔
Netflix is venturing into the realm of live sports with its inaugural event.
Combining talents from two of its most popular docu-series, "Full Swing" and "Drive to Survive," The Netflix Cup will bring together the athletes in a match play golf tournament.
This event will feature four pairs, each comprising a Formula 1 driver and a PGA TOUR professional, engaging in an eight-hole match. The top two teams will then progress to the final hole, where they will vie for the inaugural title.
The move from the streamer has received a lot of praise which was well encapsulated by Cory Bernstine, Senior Director of Strategy at United Soccer League, who wrote:
1️⃣ Netflix capitalizing, expanding, and differentiating its existing IP without investing hundreds of millions on live media rights (ESPN paying F1 $90m AAV/year with reports of Apple upping to $2B/year) to drive subscriptions.
2️⃣ Netflix continuing its pathway into experiential marketing and activations (recent ‘Netflix House’ announcement) ++bonus points for the timeliness of the event as the lead into the inaugural Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix.
3️⃣ Amplifying the athletes’ stories and expanding the content reach and engagement of original content through the athletes’ channels.
4️⃣ Creating a relatively low risk moment to build out its tech stack to pressure test streaming performance for future events.
As Bernstine concluded, ‘strong IP and attention are a great combo.’
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Rory McIlroy, Anthony Joshua join investors into the Alpine F1 team 🏎
A new British and Irish ‘super league’ club competition has been discussed by executives from rugby unions and leagues 🏉
NBA star Stephen Curry and Marc Lasry will be among the owners of the San Francisco franchise of TMRW Sports’ TGL ⛳️
LFP cancels Ligue 1 domestic rights auction after unsatisfactory bids ⚽️
Paramount has informed employees that Showtime Sports, which has overseen major boxing and MMA events, will be shut down at the end of 2023 🥊
Peloton, the NBA and WNBA announce new multi-year partnership to create special access and experiences for peloton members and fans 🏀
Creating Value: The Sidemen consider raising a VC Fund 💸
Last weekend, The Sidemen's KSI conquered the sporting world as his boxing promotion ‘Misfits Boxing’ held a cross-over boxing event which raked in an astonishing 1.3 million pay-per-views buys.
Since starting out as a content creators making videos on YouTube, the seven-strong group have moved into and excelled across various fields: With members of the group have also launching clothing lines and food and beverage brands, as well as collaborating on songs that have featured in the UK charts.
Now, it appears the group are turning their attention to the world of venture capital.
According to a report from Sifted, Companies House filings reveal that two members of the Sidemen, Vikram Singh Barn, known as Vikkstar, and Joshua Bradley, known as Zerkaa, were directors of Upside VC until recently.
Furthermore, the report suggests that all seven members are registered as directors of Sidemen Ventures, which was incorporated in 2021.
Sports Pundit says
🤔 While a spokesperson for The Sidemen declined to comment about the fund when pressed for comment by Sifted, they did say the group was looking into various investment vehicles.
The Sidemen would not be the first celebrities to throw their hats into the VC ring.
In recent months we’ve seen the launch of athlete-backed funds such as The Players Fund, as well as musician-backed funds like Mantis Venture Capital, supported by The Chainsmokers. And we’ve also YouTubers like Casper Lee move into the space, launching the $20m Creator Ventures alongside former private equity investor Sasha Kaletsky last year.
Whether its athletes, musicians, or YouTubers, these celebrity investors have potential to offer high value for founders beyond a shiny sticker on a press release.
Each can offer potentially high-level insights into their specific domain expertise, as well as strong networks from which to connect portfolio companies to potential clients or partners.
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Last month I hosted the first official Sports Pundit Social Club event in London.
The event brought together people from across the sports industry, including rightsholders, founders, VCs, and even the owner of a football club 🏏 ⛳️ ⚽️
Across the room I heard conversations about investing in women's sport, the rise of challenger leagues and content creators, ticketing, impact of working from home, and creating other ways to utilise stadia.
Following its (relative) success, I'm keen to make this a regular occurrence, offering an opportunity to bring together people and ideas (without spending £000s on a ticket!) - you’ll just have to buy yourself a drink.
Event number #2 is now scheduled for the 2nd of November at Greenwood Sports Bar (next to Victoria station) 📆
It will be great to see the people again who made it last time, as well as hopefully some new faces!
Please RSVP once you know you can make it so I can plan accordingly! 👇
P.S. If you’d like to see this type of event happen in other cities, reply to this email with your suggestions.
I’m now talking to potential hosts for events in New York and Los Angeles… 👀
Manager, Apple Partnership - Major League Soccer (New York, US)
Sporting Communications Manager - Formula E (London, UK)
Senior Manager, Growth Strategy - Sports, EMEA - 2K (London, UK)
Senior Partnerships Acquisitions Manager - Alpine F1 (Oxford, UK)
Director Player Relations PGA TOUR Pathways - PGA TOUR (Florida, US)
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What is happening in the Sports Industry? 🎱 🤔
Sports Pundit has published 75 newsletters over the course of the year so far... In the process, covering a number of trends from application of AI, to competitive socialisation 📰 🗞
While some examples become dated, many of the lessons written about continue to apply... including these eight stories aggregated below in this free to download PDF 👇